Starfish Therapies

April 6, 2009

To Crawl or Not to Crawl…


Do Babies Need to Crawl from is an interesting article that looks at a portion of the controversy surrounding the importance of crawling.  (Before you read any further, please be warned that I have a bias towards the significance of crawling.  I mean what do you expect, I am a pediatric physical therapist!)  It brings up a question that many of my parents ask me, and that is, ‘Is it important for my child to crawl?’   My answer is usually multi-faceted.  I believe that crawling is an important developmental skill for children to obtain and use however, I am okay if they never use this as their primary mode of locomotion.  I’m even okay  if they learn to walk first!  It just means parents get to be a little more creative and put in a little more time in with their kids, which in my book is never a bad thing!  Although there is not solid research at this point and time proving that skipping crawling is detrimental to a child’s development, I have seen from experience that it is beneficial for kids to crawl.  In fact, I will go back to crawling as an exercise for some of my older kids (once again, a chance to get creative).  Crawling can: development of core muscle strength, strengthening of arms and shoulders, improved coordination and body awareness, increased hip stability, and improved postural stability and head control.  An additional speculation of mine and one of my colleagues is that crawling also improves standing balance as a result of input a child gets on their shins and ankles from crawling across the floor.  My personal opinion is that crawling in and of itself has not been found to be detrimental so why not encourage it.  The following are some great ideas that you can utilize to encourage crawling whether in your already walking child or your child who has just started to crawl:

  • tossing all the couch cushions on the floor and crawling over the mountain
  • tunnels (ikea has a reasonably priced one)
  • playing chase with younger siblings who are crawling
  • pretending to be cats and dogs (you can even chase after balls or each other)
  • crawling races
  • going up and down stairs on hands and knees
  • putting pillows, cushions, legs, or any other low obstacle up with a toy/food reward on the other side
  • crawling up a shallow slide at the park

These are just a few ideas that can be incorporated with the whole family.  Who doesn’t need to work on their core muscle strength?  I’d rather crawl around playing with a child than do several hundred crunches!  Simple Guide to Encourage Your Child to Crawl or Walk and Helping Baby Learn to Crawl and Walk are two articles that give further suggestions for encouraging crawling.  What I hope you take away from this is that, while it hasn’t been proven that there is no harm in children not crawling, there is plenty of evidence to the benefits of crawling.  Why not just get down on the floor and play with your kids, its what they want anyway!


  1. […] precursor to rolling as well as to pushing back onto all fours to learn how to crawl (see ‘To Crawl or Not to Crawl…‘ for more on crawling).  Tummy Time also provides your child with new sensory experiences […]

    Pingback by Tummy Time: What’s the Big Deal? « Starfish Therapies — May 5, 2009 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

  2. […] only have fun with your child but to encourage gross motor skills.  Strategies for Tummy Time and To Crawl or Not to Crawl both offered ideas as […]

    Pingback by Holiday Gift Guide « Starfish Therapies — December 7, 2009 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

  3. […] addition to working on core strengthening it also gives kiddos a chance to crawl which many kids skip in this day and age.  With crawling they get to work on motor planning […]

    Pingback by Core Strengthening with a Tunnel « Starfish Therapies — November 5, 2012 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  4. Hi! I also work with children, mainly on sensory integration: from babies to grown teenagers and from premature infants to severe cerebral palsy or injuries and strokes. I found crawling to be very important and helpful and also would definitely suggest all babies to crawl at least two months before they start walking. I find that crawling helps bring the symmetry to the body, it’s good for the corpus callosum and coordination across the midline of the body. All that is good for cognitive skills, too. And the reason I suggest parents to have their child crawl first is because once the baby starts walking it is sooo hard to make them be in a non-vertical position and thus they don’t get this great and healthy experience of crawling. Plus, I agree with you on how helpful it is for the trunk strength. Sometimes even I get down on all fours with the children I work with and crawl myself (I have low muscle town) so it helps me, too!

    Comment by Sensory Hub — June 2, 2014 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

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