The Importance of Crawling for Childhood Development of the Brain

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The first steps of a toddler are considered to be milestone events for parents who wait eagerly. But early walking doesn’t assure the advanced development of your child. It might also mean that the brain might have missed some critical developmental steps which can lead to a problem later on.

The Importance of Crawling for Childhood Development of the Brain

​Crawling – Two Main Types:

Experts believe that a baby uses 25 different combination of body parts to move through a ground. The two primary types are known as belly crawling and also crisscross crawling which is on the knees and hands.

Belly Crawling: It is known that 50% of babies start crawling with the help of belly against floor. Such children usually start crawling earlier that babies who start crawling on knees and hands. Crawling on belly requires lesser balance and strength.
On several occasions babies usually use this method for crawling right till the moment they walk. There are others which move by crisscross crawling before they start walking.

Criss-Cross Crawling or knees and hands crawling does require limbs from the opposite side. It needs coordination of the hands and sides. A baby usually alternates legs and arms. Arms usually get on a side to meet floor at same side as the opposite leg does.
This is also known as contra-lateral or also known as cross-lateral crawling. Such a diagonal kind of movement is necessary for developing the pathway in the brain, which belly crawling doesn’t usually impact.

Brain Development and Criss-Cross Crawling is Important for Brain

The corpus callosum refers to a band of nerve fibers which lie between the different hemispheres of brain. With crisscross crawling the corpus callosum is stimulated which develops in a balanced method. This helps the different hemispheres of the brain to communicate.
The lateral or movements of the baby works well on both sides of body quite evenly and also involves coordinate movements of hands, feet, eyes, ears and also core muscles. This offers total support to the cognitive function, helps in problem solves and makes learning easier.

​Hip Sockets Benefit

Crawling is considered to be a psychological stepping stone to walking. The various crawling muscle start to reshape hips as they pull them inwards and then forwards. As baby becomes strong, she gets a better position to lift the body and then balance for walking.

​Crossing Midline of Body

In case of criss-cross crawling, a baby moves the limb to the opposite side of body which involves touching of right hand to left shoulder. Such kind of movement is essential for the development of integration of reflexes, learning, hearing and vision development.
There are other ways by which crossing the midline helps babies:
It helps in increasing the lower back strength and prepares the body for excellent upright position.
It also prepares the ankles for the flexion which is required for walking
It exercises spine rotation
Helps in strengthening eye-hand coordination.​

Other Kinds of Crawling Methods?

Parents often notice that the baby is using different combinations of limb movements to easily move through the floor. This can be scooting on bottom, using a foot or a knee to gradually pull or push, leapfrogging, crab crawling and also repetitive rolling. Repetitive rolling or other kinds of movement might be an indication of difficulty in coordination during cross-body movement, which is essential in case of knees and hands crawling.
This might happen due to a variety of reasons and it can also mean that your child is missing a few developmental stages.
In case you notice that your baby is not showing any desire to crawl, you need to look for a functional neurology practitioner, who will help in learning supportive, nonjudgmental and fun ways to crawl, so that the baby can enjoy all brain benefits.

​Be Careful of Pushing your Baby to be in an Upright Position

Many babies do not crawl on knees and hands. Many parenting trends might tell that crawling is not important, but this doesn’t mean that it is not important for development.
For example, there is a popular trend which can inhibit developing of motor function and reflexes is when babies are propped in an upright holding device quite often.
If you often place the baby in an upright position, she might not get into a position on her own, whether it is by hand or in device. It might make it difficult for her to meet the normal developing milestones.
Also, it does not mean that your baby shouldn’t be propped up. You can carry the baby upright and hold the baby at face for interaction or can sit in high chair for the purpose of eating. However, you need to give the baby a lot of time on floor so that the brain and the body connections.

Helping My Baby to Learn Crawling

Here are some suggestions which encourages crawling

  • Let your baby have a lot of floor time. A little bit of exploration will help your baby learn newer movements.
  • Help your baby discover newer ways of sitting and standing on own. Thus, it will help in building strength and coordination which is extremely important for crawling on the hands and the knees.
  • It is important to minimize propping or holding your baby in an upright position. This will ensure that excess muscle tension is not allowed which will make crawling difficult.
  • Do not think much about trends which mention that crawling isn’t important.

Science has mentioned it many times that children who miss the crawling stage might experience learning difficulties later on. It is important for babies to crawl on hands and knees. This is crucial for the development of body and the brain.
Help your baby crawl for a long time or as long as she desires. When your baby starts walking on her own she will definitely benefit from this.
For more advice, get in touch with our functional neurology office.