Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year: Part 5 – Crawling

While rolling is an initial means of transportation for babies, crawling turns up the engine quite a bit.  But crawling is an exciting major developmental milestone that is so much more important than getting around.  Crawling has many overall physical, cognitive and sensory developmental benefits that will help your baby well beyond infancy into her school-aged years.  Today we’re looking at the benefits and mechanics of crawling as part of our series on major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year.

Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year:  Part 5 - CrawlingThe Benefits of Crawling

Crawling yields many benefits that your baby will carry with her for years to come.  On a physical level she will develop her muscles and joints required for gross motor skills.  This will help her with postural control, which is when the body maintains alignment by activating muscles around the body part your baby is trying to control.  It’s all about stability and mobility.

In addition, crawling promotes transitional movements as the all-fours stance makes it easier to get into other positions.  Crawling also strengths muscles around the rib cage that are linked to talking and eating.  Furthermore, the bilateral coordination necessary for crawling supports brain development.  Specifically it improves nerve fibers that allow the right and left brain hemispheres to communicate with one another.

Here’s something you may be surprised to learn: crawling helps develop fine motor skills too.  Because crawling is dependent on bearing weight on the hands, many important muscles are activated and movements are strengthened.  These include lengthening fingers, developing hand arches, improving grasp and even improving the ability to hold a pencil for future writing.

On the sensory side, crawling requires a lot of visual coordination, depth perception, special awareness and interpreting sights.  Crawling also helps babies process many senses at one time as they are seeing, hearing and feeling many new sensations at once.  Plus, babies learn “motor planning” by being faced with new experiences and learning how to manipulate themselves and their surroundings to accomplish something.

Helping Your Baby Crawl

Pre-crawling skills incorporate all of the smaller and major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year, including strengthening the core, neck, arms and legs through tummy time, back and side playtime, rolling and sitting.  Let your baby spend as much time as possible practicing these skills.  Belly crawling and pivoting may emerge from time spent playing on the ground, which are super duper for learning to crawl.

Other helpful ways you can encourage crawling is by elevating your baby’s upper body to force her to bear weight on her knees.  You can also put a rolled towel or blanket beneath her belly to reminder her to lift her core when on all fours.  An exercise ball or other dynamic surfaces can help your baby learn balance, stability and coordination while also continuing to strengthen the essential muscles for crawling.

Of course motivating your baby into motion with exciting toys and your own encouragement is also a big help.  Just as you have down throughout the other major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year, place toys or yourself just out of reach so your baby has to work hard to reach her goals.  Using vibrant toys, mirrors, a tunnel or going outdoors are all terrific ways to promote crawling.  Always give her plenty of safe space to explore.  Discovering new delightful experiences will only support your baby’s desire to be active.

Now that your baby is on-the-move, it’s time to get ready for the big leagues: standing and walking.  We’ll discuss those major developmental milestones in your baby’s first year tomorrow.

Source:  MamaOT