By Katie Greeley BS, DC
Chiropractic and the Importance of Crawling of Babies
Crawling is one of the many milestones we look forward to experiencing with our children. In my office, I often encounter many children who have not done enough crawling. Most children start to crawl around the age of 6 to 10 months. Parents need to be aware that early walking does not mean your child is more advanced; in fact, it could actually hurt your child’s ability to learn.
According to Glenn Dorman, crawling stimulates the brain to develop convergence of vision, and children who have skipped this phase as babies may find it difficult to learn to read and write. It is very important that your child develops a cross-crawl pattern for at least five to six months before they start to engage in walking.
The Correct Method of Cross-Crawling
When crawling, the baby needs to move both extremities opposite of each other. For example, when the right leg bends forward, then the left arm moves forward. The importance of this cross-crawl pattern is to allow the motor nerve impulses which begin on one side of the brain and cross over the brainstem to supply the motor activity to the opposite extremity.
When we cross-crawl, we use both the right and left side of the brain to enhance neurological coordination. Studies show children who were categorized as early walkers, or those who have crawled for a comparatively short time, demonstrated lower performance scores on preschool assessment tests. This supports the importance of the early crawling experience in the development of sensory and motor systems of the body and general motor skill development.
Methods to Replace Cross-Crawl Patterns
When children are already past the crawling age, what can we do to enhance this cross-crawl pattern that is so important to development? If your child did not crawl for at least six months before walking or if your child crawled backwards or scooted, then you can play games on the ground and mimic crawling.
In early preschoolers or grade school children, you can pretend to be their favorite four-legged animal and crawl around, making sure to use opposite limbs in the process for five minutes a day for at least 30 to 60 days.
In older children or adults, you can march in place using opposite extremities and turn your head to face your arm to even further stimulate the brain hemispheres. Repeat this exercise for 50 to 100 steps.
Babies and the Importance of Tummy-Time
If your baby has not reached the crawling age yet, you can help the development process by giving your child plenty of tummy time which will allow the limbs, joints and muscles to strengthen to become ready to be mobile. Never force a child to crawl or walk before they are ready. It is equally important that the muscles are developmentally ready to support the weight as it is to cross-crawl for six months.
Potential Health Issues for Non-Crawlers
If you notice that your child is older than 10 months and has not begun to crawl, it is time for an evaluation. Babies can be born with a series of congenital disorders which can affect their crawling abilities. Some might include neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome or autism. Others could include muscular skeletal disorders such as congenital hip dysplasia, coxa vera or sacral iliac subluxation.
Conclusion: The Importance of Crawling
So when your baby is ready to begin achieving the next milestone of crawling, be excited to help the brain develop the cross-crawl pattern that is so essential for future learning.
About the Author:
Dr. Katie Greeley is a board-certified doctor of chiropractic and a mother of two living in Simi Valley, California. She has completed extended courses on pediatrics above and beyond the regular doctorate degree. Her office, United Family Chiropractic Center, is located in Wood Ranch at 1070 Country Club Drive West, Suite D, in Simi Valley, California. The office can be reached at (805) 522-2324.