Harley has been able to sit on her own for a while now. It’s absolutely divine – I can plonk her on the floor surrounded by her toys and she will just sit and play for a little while. Sometimes a little while is a few minutes, sometimes it’s way longer, but either way it’s nice for me to get a bit of time not holding onto her, and for her to get to explore on her own. She has learned how to get on all fours and back onto her back. In fact, she’s so good at that I’m hardly able to encourage tummy time anymore; she just pushes herself back up to a seated position. Despite hints of it coming, Harley has been SO close to crawling for weeks but has yet to do it. She does, however, pull herself up to standing. While she might seem poised to jump into the world of walking, I really want her to crawl first.
I know, they are milestones and not set in stone or something, but I do think the crawling thing is important. I don’t want Harley to skip crawling and go straight to walking. Sure, it will be great when she does both, and she already has her own unique way of getting around sorta like an inchworm, but with all the developmental stuff that crawling encourages, it’s not something I want her to breeze past.
Crawling is a big deal for both gross and fine motor skills. I think the gross motor skills part is fairly clear; they have to move big muscles in their bodies in order to traverse an area. That means strengthening arms, legs and core – just get down on the floor and crawl for a few minutes yourself… it is hard work! The more those muscles are strengthened, the better equipped your child will be when she starts walking and running, climbing and maneuvering various situation. But it’s not just the gross motor skills that are improved by crawling, fine motor skills also come into play. By bending the wrist backwards the way is necessary for crawling, the muscles of the hands and wrist are developed, helping to improve dexterity as the child grows up. This might even mean your little one has better handwriting.
Crawling for midline crossing
I’ve already written about the importance of midline crossing, and crawling does that on a massive scale. Babies learn how to balance themselves using both sides of their bodies, plus how to move around by moving their right hand and left leg at the same time. This isn’t just a couple movements done on purpose the way I’ve helped Harley by touching her right hand to her left foot. This is day to day use of the midline crossing skills, something that cements the connections in her brain and set her up for more success going forward.
Crawling for spacial and texture awareness
When Harley is playing with her ball, it will occasionally (okay, often) roll away from her. She realizes it’s not in her immediate reach, stretching out her hand for it. When she can’t grasp it, she then tries to move towards the toy, rocking back and forth and move her body any way she can to get closer to it. Just think about all the skills necessary in that exercise. She needs to visually process that something she sees is out of reach. She needs to understand how far away it is – can she stretch and reach it or does she need to move closer? Plus, as she moves, she can feel carpet underneath her, or tile, or wood flooring or grass depending on where you are. Let your little one feel her way through the world and understand the various textures she encounters.
But my baby isn’t crawling, so what do I do?
Harley is now 10.5 months old and still hasn’t mastered the fine art of crawling. I know, babies hit their milestones in their own time, but of course as a parent it can be frustrating. Of course I’m doing everything I can to encourage her to get into that crawling pose and move around. Here are some ideas I’ve been trying:
- Keep placing her on her tummy during play time. Sure, she can get herself back into a sitting position, but at least it does something for the few moments she’s in the position
- Putting her on her tummy over cushions, blankets or other elevated objects. Even if she doesn’t quite move from there, it helps her to experience being in the crawling pose
- Arrange her favorite toys just out of reach. It makes me feel a bit mean, but it motivates her to lean, push and inchworm her way to them.
- Attend a baby group where other babies are crawling; I’ve never seen Harley as frustrated as when she watched a couple of her baby friends crawl off to play with some toys. She was so determined to join them. She didn’t exactly crawl, but she certainly got herself to where she wanted to be.
- Get on the floor and crawl with her. I know, it feels silly, but showing how you crawl can help her figure out what needs to be done – babies love to copy us and sometimes we just need to model the activity ourselves. This is the one that’s working the best for me at the moment, mainly because Harley laughs hysterically when I crawl towards her and it makes both of us happier to just stay in that position.
What age did your little ones crawl? Did they crawl for a long time, or was it a quick step along the path to walking and running circles around you?