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A Baby’s First Steps

By Sara J. Mays, D.C.

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.

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