Crawling, like walking and sitting up independently, is a major milestone in a baby's life. Crawling requires balance, coordination and muscle, which means that crawling easily prepares an infant for the next stage of development, which is walking.
The Value of Crawling
While other milestones symbolize progression in a child's development, learning to crawl is significant because it marks the first time a child is able to make it from one point to another on his or her own. Once mobile, children have a new sense of pride and accomplishment. Crawling opens a world of opportunities for children as they discover new places and objects that were previously inaccessible. After mastering the art of crawling, babies progress quickly to other milestones like standing and walking.
Learning to crawl is significant because it requires a child to use his or her mind and body. Children generally learn to sit before they progress to crawling, which is a major milestone and a good foundation for crawling. Crawling, however, adds complexity to sitting as it requires the child to use visual cues in addition to physical strength to reach an end destination. As with learning to sit, it may take some time for a child to learn how to crawl across a given space effectively. Children might start with a series of odd crawl strokes, such as the classic crawl, which involves moving an opposite arm and leg at the same time to reach an endpoint; a scoot, which is a shuffle movement where the child moves across the floor on his or her bottom; a crab crawl, where the child moves forward or sideways with one leg bent and the other straight; or commando crawl, where a child uses his or her arms only to move forward. Children can also learn to move backward before they move forward. If a child appears hesitant to start crawling, parents can use several techniques to encourage motion. They can make crawling more appealing, for instance, by placing toys and other fun objects just out of the child's reach. Other good incentives are pillows, sofas and cushions, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Childproofing the Home
Regardless of technique, crawling can bring a range of emotions. Children may express joy and excitement when they reach a new object via crawling. They might also express frustration or disappointment when the object they strive to reach is snatched up by a parent or caregiver. Once children learn to crawl, they can move around quite quickly and easily. Therefore, parents should take precautions to childproof the room that the child is in and surrounding areas, notes BabyCenter. Parents can put up safety gates on the top of stairs, for instance, to prevent children from falling down. They should also remove all objects that pose a choking or safety hazard from the child's reach.
Although children differ in the age range at which they start crawling, some physical signs can indicate potential problems. Parents should consult a pediatrician if their child has shown no signs of mobility by the one-year point, or if the child appears to be crawling by only using one side of his or her body.