Many parents think that if their child skips the crawling stage and starts walking early that they are actually ahead of the rest of their peers. In fact, crawling is one of the most important stages for your little one! Crawling helps develop many important skills that are necessary for success in the future. Crawling can help with shoulder and hand strength, learning to control flexor and extensor muscles simultaneously, improve bilateral coordination, and strengthen the muscles that assist in eye movement.
Crawling will allow your little one to weight bear through both arms, which then allows the stabilizing shoulder muscles to turn on. Crawling is also great for strengthening the muscles in the hand. Strong hand muscles will help your child hold pencils or other objects while grasping. Not only is crawling helping strengthen the hand muscles, it also assists in stretching the fingers, palm, and wrist with an open hand placed on the ground. In the long run, your child will be set for success in his/her writing abilities when it’s time for school.
Another important factor that comes with crawling is learning to control flexor and extensor muscles. Being able to control the muscles on both sides of the body helps us stand up straight without too much sway in movement. Allowing your child to differentiate the different muscles allows your child to use both sides of the body required for coordination. This leads to a better understanding of one’s environment and surroundings, as well as spatial awareness. Some long-term benefits include increased comprehension, memory, and concentration that can be used in school, sports, or reading.
The most commonly missed benefit of crawling is improved eye musculature strength. This improvement is because the child will have to look up at the environment than back down to their hands throughout the duration of crawling. This can later help with copying notes from a whiteboard at school. With more experience, crawlers will be able to adapt to changes in the environment, such as level changes, hills, or objects in the way of their desired path to crawl.
In conclusion, we all want to see our children succeed in life and a great way for physical success is through crawling!
Lauren Yoshida, Pt, DPT