Crawling is commonly considered an important developmental milestone in a baby’s life. Crawling requires the baby to support his/her own weight with hands and knees while propelling in a forward motion. There are a few reasons why crawling is so important for a baby’s developmental milestone: First, crawling strengthens the trunk, shoulders and hand muscles. The mechanics of crawling stimulate different areas of the brain that are important for future learning. When an infant begins to crawl, the repetitive movements will help to stimulate and to organize neurons which allow the infant’s brain to control cognitive processes such as comprehension, concentration and memory.
Crawling also helps with vision skills. An infant visually determines where they want to go and physically moves in that direction. The hands become the guides and the infant tests his/her hand/eye coordination so it is established. This skill set is used later in life for reading, writing and sports activities. Next, another important piece of development that occurs during the crawling stage is binocular vision. This involves training the eyes to look off into the distance and then back at the hands while crawling. Binocular vision is a skill that helps a child complete many activities, such as copying something from a blackboard at school, catching a ball, or driving a car. Finally, crawling develops bilateral coordination. It crosses lateral movement that strengthens both the left and right side of the brain. It allows the increasing communication between the two sides of the brain and enhances learning.
Not all babies crawl in a traditional manner which is on their hands and knees. There are many other types of crawling, so if you have any concerns about the way your baby is crawling, please seek the advice of your pediatrician or have you baby evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist.
Hien, Physical Therapy Team