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A Baby's First Steps

How your baby is designed to crawl

Crawling is SO important for your baby. A normal cross-crawl pattern is expected to develop around 9 months of age. Whenever this starts in your baby, they should continue this habit of locomotion for 3-4 months before transitioning to walking. Why is crawling important? It sets up so many things for your child: development of the corpus collosum (communication between the two hemispheres of the brain), math, left/right, sense of direction, multitasking, core strength, balance, pelvic floor integrity, foot arches, shoulder strength, posture, vision, ability to sit still comfortably, and academic achievement. I don’t think we yet understand its full importance.


How to give your child the crawling advantage

TUMMY TIME and other horizontal play. This is vital to an infant’s development. Put them on the floor and let them play as much as possible. They need to be in a horizontal position almost all the time from age 0-3 months. Baby containers impede development. Don’t put walkers, bouncers, bumbos, and jumpers in your house—the baby needs to be in arms, be worn, or be on the floor/crib/playpen instead. Choose baby wearing over a stroller. Carseats are important for safety, but don’t tote the baby around in them; carry the baby in your arms or wear them. Things that promote general neurological healthy development: skin-to-skin, movement of all types (play with them!), gentle touch, singing and talking to them, contact naps, feeding on demand, gazing into their eyes, and holding them.

Things to avoid/minimize: Anything that restricts movement; too much swaddling, too much “container time,” rigid feeding schedules, screen time before age 2 (limit to video calls with family only), and lack of human touch/holding.


The normal road to crawling

At 3-4 months of age they will grab their feet and also be able to pass an object across the midline from hand to hand. At 6 months of age, your child will begin to work on coming up to sit from their back; they will also play on all 4s between 6-9 months and rock back and forth. All these are signs your baby is on track for crawling.


When to seek help

If your baby is not on track for the above milestones, I would seek help from a qualified chiropractor (search at ICPA4kids.org). If your baby’s crawl is anything other than on hands and knees and moving the opposite arm and leg together, chiropractic care is warranted. If your baby skips crawling and goes straight to walking, they have missed some important neurological development, and you should be cognizant of regaining that information for their nervous system, so seek care.


  • Sara J. Mays, D.C


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