Why is Crawling Important?

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy

Hello! My name is Sara and I am an OT at TEAM 4 Kids Pediatric Therapy. Crawling is a skill that usually develops between 6-10 months.  I have been asked why crawling is important by parents and frequently explain why skipping the crawling milestone and going straight to walking can have other impacts on their child.  Below are some areas that crawling helps to develop that we work with through occupational therapy and tips to promote crawling for your little one! 

Strengthening: Crawling strengthens muscles of the arms, trunk, hand, fingers and increases shoulder stability. 

Bilateral Coordination: Crawling helps the left side and the right side of the body learn to work together which is important for many daily activities including coloring on paper, dressing, playing, walking, and more.

Postural Control: This is the ability for the body to remain upright in space.  Crawling helps the body learn how to co-contract different muscles and increase postural control so that it can remain upright even while playing, moving, and eating. 

Motor Planning: This is how the body remembers and performs the steps needed to complete and make a movement happen.  Crawling helps the body develop a body map which leads to an easier time learning and performing movements. It can help connect your brain to your fingers!

Fine Motor Skills: Crawling can impact and improve a child’s grasp and ability to hold and use items including utensils like spoons and forks and writing utensils like crayons and pencils. 

Development of the arches and layout of the hand: Crawling can help develop arches in their hands, web space, and thumb opposition (the ability for the thumb to go across the palm and touch fingers) which is important for holding and using tools such as utensils. 

Visual System: Crawling can help strengthen the muscles of the eyes allowing increased control over eye movements as the child explores and looks around their surroundings.  It can impact visual perception skills, depth perception, and spatial awareness. As a baby crawls and explores it can see and “feel” how big, small, or far away things are. 

Promote Crawling in babies:

1. Make sure they get enough tummy time! Place toys in front of them while they are in tummy time to practice reaching with their arms.

2. Decrease the amount of time in child carriers and have them play on the floor. 

3. Place toys off to the side to encourage the baby to twist and turn for toys.

4. Place motivating and favorite toys about 3 feet away from the child to encourage them to work towards wanting to move forward and crawl.

5. Be hands-on to support your baby and demonstrate crawling in front of your baby to provide a visual. 

Promote Crawling in Toddlers:

1. Encourage children to crawl inside or under objects.  This can include a tunnel toy, crawling under a bench, chair, or table! Put motivating toys underneath furniture or in the tunnel to encourage the toddler to crawl under or in.

2. Use push toys such as cars to have them crawl while “driving” them on the floor.  You can use tape to make roads on the floor!

3. Crawl with your toddler and pretend to be different animals. 

If you have any questions or concerns with your child’s development, call us at TEAM 4 Kids!

Sara Reid, M.S. OTR/L