This article outlines why crawling is good for little kids.
We think of crawling as ‘Baby’s Work” and once we pop up onto two feet, we shouldn’t go back to that baby way of moving. But crawling is an incredibly healthy way to move for children. Healthy for their bodies and healthy for their minds! Even in Kindergarten and grade school! When I see a group of school aged children on the floor playing with blocks, trucks, imaginary play or anything else, I am very happy. Here’s why:
- Crawling works all the trunk muscles hard…that means a stronger core!
- Crawling involves a complex sequence of steps using both sides of the body. This motor sequencing helps build pathways and make connections in the brain!
- With each movement forward, the center of gravity shifts. This means the body has to balance four different ways with each crawling sequence. That really helps improve the child’s sense of balance in preparation for sports.
- Crawling is heavy work! Because crawling uses muscles and work the joints so rigorously, “organizing stimulation” occurs in the brain. This helps with attention and focus for the classroom.
- Crawling requires weight bearing into the hands and arms. This strengthens all the muscles critical to fine motor skills-especially handwriting!
Your child didn’t crawl? Don’t panic. Many babies skip crawling. This may have been a result of slightly weak trunk or core muscles when your child was a baby. Notice that the points above all require a lot of body action. The best thing to do is to get your child back on the floor playing. Games that require reaching while lying on the stomach will help strengthen the back muscles critical for crawling.
Here are some great activities to make the body strong and lead to learning how to crawl:
- Playing with cars, trains and trucks in this position really facilitates crawling
- Have your child lie on his tummy to play with puzzles, games, looking at books and just about everything.
- Encourage reaching while in this position.
- Be goofy- have your preschooler crawl off your lap, chair or pillows head first so the arms have to “walk” onto the floor. (Make sure the arms are strong enough to do this).
- Teach your child to wheel barrow walk and crab walk-do this every day!
- Rolling across the room to retrieve puzzles pieces works the core.
- Commando crawling is a great way to do imaginary play like “super heroes.””
- When sitting, encourage reaching to the sides…puzzle pieces on the left and template on the right.
Playing with cars, trains and trucks in this position really facilitates crawling; moving these toys requires reaching and moving while in four-point.
By Jill Mays author of Your Child’s Motor Development Story – Understanding and enhancing development from birth to their first sport.
Jill has worked with children for more than 30 years. A mother of three children, she has juggled motherhood with her work in a private occupational therapy practice and consulting where she helps parents and educators understand the complex concepts of sensorimotor development.