To see your baby meet her developmental milestones as she grows is possibly one of the most exciting things you can experience as a parent. One such milestone is crawling. While babies are capable to learn and do a lot on their own for their age, every parent should know how to teach baby to crawl on hands and knees.
Why is Crawling Important?
Research shows that crawling is extremely important for a baby’s brain and body development. Not only does it develop baby’s core abdominal strength and back strength; it also strengthens the shoulder and hip joints, which are foundational for future gross motor skills like walking, jumping and lifting, among others.
According to the 10 important principles of growth and development, a child’s body goes through developmental changes that are predictable, as they follow a certain sequence and a specific pattern. Crawling too, is part of the developmental process, and follows a sequence.
Crawling is also foundational for fine motor skills like writing, turning lights off-and-on, brushing teeth and other important everyday things she will do as she grows up. It also aids in controlling her body positions including proper body posture and creates balance in her body’s overall stability and mobility.
Neurologically, crawling has a huge importance in the growth and development of your baby, as it can help her get smarter. The brain is made up of two hemispheres (two sides) and crawling falls under what is called “cross lateral movement”, which requires your baby use opposite sides of the body working together.
As she practices and uses this skill, she will be activating a part of the brain in the middle of the left and right hemisphere, called the Corpus Callosum. The job of the corpus callosum is to help the left and the right sides of the brain to communicate with each other effectively.
A strong and thick corpus callosum of the brain correlates with its processing speed, problem solving abilities and intelligence. This means by the time she is ready to crawl, she’s already mastered several other milestones that have strengthened her muscles and has made her brain and body to make connections that have prepared her to start crawling.
For instance, when she has mastered tummy time and is able to start sitting by herself, these are signs that she is ready for crawling. And when she planks on her hands and feet, rocks back-and-forth as she planks, or if she is in a hands-and-knees position, she’s already army-crawling.
Here are the 7 best ways to teach baby how to crawl on hands and knees:
1. Show How To Crawl
Remember, always, that children learn what they see. There is therefore no better and powerful way to teach baby to crawl on hands and knees than you showing her how to do it. Just get on your hands and knees and crawl in front of her. It’s that simple.
As you crawl, narrate what you are doing. Don’t think too much whether she can understand what you’re saying. Leave that to her. The more she sees you (or her old sibling) doing it, more she will be to encouraged to join in the fun and learn the skill faster.
2. Place a Long Mirror
Babies love to look at themselves in the mirror. To be able to look at themselves is a great motivator for them to scoot up to it and admire their reflection in it. The best part of all the admiration is that they’re also watching how their body works.
If you put a long mirror horizontally against the wall, it will make it perfect for your baby to watch herself crawl across its entire length. It also is a great way to keep her engaged during tummy time.
Looking at herself in the mirror is possibly the earliest of stages where she is developing her observational skills.
3. Let Her Swivel
Be it on their bellies or their bottoms, babies learn how to pivot around. That’s why you sometimes see her just going around and around in circles, which is great, because she’s learning how to send messages to her body so that she can move.
If the floors of your home are tiled or wooden, it makes it easier for her swivel and scoot around, as there’s very less friction.
4. Do Tummy Time with Birth Ball
When your little one is learning to crawl, she has to figure out how to balance her body as she moves forward, as gravity shifts to different parts of her body.
With your baby’s belly down on the birth ball, hold onto her waist. Then roll the ball in four ways: forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally, so that she can experience how her body weight shifts while being on the ball.
She’d love doing this activity, especially in front of the mirror, as it gives her something to look at as you’re doing it.
5. Place Her Favourite Toys a Little Out Of Reach
Put that pacifier just a little out of her reach or that favourite light up toy of hers just a bit farther, so that she is motivated to work her body to get to it.
A tummy time wobbler is one of the toys that is designed in such a way that it encourages babies to meet and master a few developmental milestones, including crawling. Babies love playing with this toy, as it keeps moving away from them wobbling.
6. Create a Tunnel
This is possibly the most fun way to teach baby to rock on hands and knees. The interesting thing about getting through a tunnel is that there’s no other way one can get through it, be it a baby or an adult, other than to crawl through it.
Setting up this activity will encourage her to do just that. While she will be enthused if she’s at one end and you are on the other, she will be more enthused if her sibling or another kid of her age is on the other side of the tunnel.
7. Let Her Prop Upon Elevated Surfaces
To start with, try using a shorter elevated surface like a couch-cushion placed on the floor. This encourages your baby to comfortably bear weight on her knees. It also helps her practice on upper body and core strength, therefore helping her to crawl freely.
Once she gets used to the shorter surfaces, you can increase the height gradually by stacking the couch-cushions onto a mattress on the ground or something similar. You can even let her start navigating the stairs – with your help, of course.
Note: Some babies are movers from the very beginning and start crawling fairly early on, while others take their own time figuring out how to perform each movement before they eventually start crawling. Babies grow at their own pace. This makes every baby’s development look different, which is natural and normal.
As part of the natural growth process, from the very day your baby is born, she’s been developing many skills, including a set of pre-crawling skills.
But every parent can do his/her bit to teach baby to crawl on hands and knees, so that the child can crawl with ease and confidence and enjoy the new-found freedom to move around freely.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.