Why Crawling is Important for Your Baby’s Development

By Katie Briggs, MSPT, CIMT2, CPMT, CKTP

Recent Confusion

In 2022, for the first time in 20 years, the CDC updated its list of developmental milestones. They Eliminated 216 of them, including crawling. This decision left parents confused. One question they’ve asked: If crawling is no longer an official milestone, is it important that my baby crawls?

This Physical Therapist’s answer: yes. You might be thinking that someone you know (or maybe you!) never crawled and they’re doing just fine. And you’re right. Some babies don’t crawl, go straight to walking, and never look back. But here’s the thing: If we can help them learn this skill, the benefits are pretty awesome.

 

Why Crawling is Important

Crawling allows for exploration through movement.

Not only do babies learn about the environment they are crawling around, but moving on their hands and knees provides them with a variety of sensory experiences (think carpet, hardwood floors, grass, sand, etc.). Crawling also teaches them about their body in relation to space and improves their depth perception.

Crawling strengthens a baby’s muscles.

The core, shoulders, and hips work hard and get stronger with crawling. Less obviously, a baby’s hands and fingers also get stronger with crawling. This helps with fine motor activities like feeding, playing with toys, and (in a few years) handwriting.

Crawling develops a baby’s coordination.

To crawl, a baby’s arms and legs as well as their right and left sides must work together. This helps babies learn how to move their different body parts in a coordinated way for eventual walking, running, climbing, sports, etc.

 

When Should You Be Concerned?

The CDC’s former guideline said that babies should be crawling around 9 months. Please don’t panic if your little one is 9 months old and not yet crawling. There is a range (typically 6 to 11 months) that the skill emerges.

Instead, ask yourself if your little one is demonstrating any of the following:

  • favoring one side of the body in the way that they position, reach, or move
  • showing less interest in their environment, toys, or social interactions than you would expect
  • feeling a little “floppy” or conversely, “stiff,” when you hold and move them

If any of these things describe your baby or if your gut is telling you that they’re not moving as they should, a physical therapy evaluation is a great idea.

Some babies will crawl on their own and some need a little more support getting there. If that’s your kiddo, please reach out. We’re happy to help.

 

 

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