If you’ve ever spent any time with a toddler, you probably got an incredible workout! Babies traditionally begin crawling between six and ten months, and WOW can they get around! If your little one is not yet crawling- never fear! Be sure to provide ample tummy time and they will begin scooting and crawling before you know it.

Many parents are excited to see their babies begin to stand and walk, and encourage bipedal movement. In every case, more crawling is actually healthier than walking (at least in developmental brain stages) so crawl, crawl, crawl! Getting down on the floor with your child and crawling a bit yourself can help encourage quadripedal motion. Moving the arms and legs in sequence helps strengthen the bridge between right and left brain hemisphere (called the “corpus callosum”) and is essential for your child to learn to multitask as a student and an adult.

There is also an interesting theory about a link between lack of crawling and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It all has to do with a reflex we are born with called the “symmetric tonic neck reflex” (STNR). This reflex helps us operate our upper and lower body independently. Usually this reflex is inhibited, or matures, between nine and twelve months. (1)

When a child gains independent control of his or her neck, arms and legs, this reflex is matured. This can be achieved through alternate hands and knees crawling for at least six months. When this reflex does not integrate, some of the symptoms are:

  • Tendency to slump when sitting at a desk
  • Difficulty keeping bottom in seat and feet on the floor when sitting at a desk
  • Poor eye-hand coordination
  • Slowness at copying tasks
  • Difficulty copying from a blackboard while at a desk
  • Difficulty with vertical tracking (important for math equations)
  • Poor attention
  • Clumsiness

The book “Stopping ADHD” cites a study by Dr. Miriam Bender that found that at least 75 percent of the learning-disabled people surveyed had an immature symmetric tonic neck reflex contributing to their disability.

Children will crawl when they are ready, but parents can make things more enticing. Clearing large spaces for mobility practice, keeping floors and carpets clean for the little ones and safeguarding against sharp corners or other hazards will all help babies stay safe as they navigate with their new skills. Some ways to encourage your child to crawl are to:

  • Use a tunnel or a short tent to crawl through.
  • Place toys out of reach so the child has to move to pick them up or crawl to get them. Make sure the toys are stimulating in color, shape and texture, as well as easy to play with. Try something he really wants but doesn’t usually get to play with, like the TV remote or cell phone!
  • Pretend to be a dog and chase her around while she is on all fours!

To learn even more about the importance of crawling, check out this issue of “Family Wellness First” from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association on “Baby Crawling: How Important It Really Is.”

Crawling will always been an important part of childhood development, even if researchers disagree on the exact number of benefits crawling provides. For more information on childhood development and perinatal health, check out the ICPA.org website as well as more articles from Boulder Women’s Chiropractic!

Thank you for reading- I hope you enjoyed learning all about the benefits of crawling!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at amanda@boulderwomenschiro.com or if you’d like to book a session you can do so here.

Heather Haring, Ohio Health, “What’s So Important About Crawling?”