Crawling Crooked: Why It’s Best to Let Your Baby Crawl Naturally (And Not with a Walker)
Not all babies can master the Huggie’s baby speed crawl, but here’s why letting them go at their own pace is better
By Shannon Gallagher
Coraline was a funny crawler — she did the left-knee/right-foot scoot. I spent several weeks crawling behind her with her right foot under my thumb, trying to coach her knee to the floor with little success. Today, at just shy of two years old, she runs around with remarkable agility — no perceptible imbalance from her days as a freestyle crawler, or even evidence to suggest that being one is a bad thing.
Unfortunately, I know it's not a great thing either. I’m not saying you should freak out if your baby likes to do the worm instead of the Huggie's baby speed crawl, but it's worth keeping in mind that the way we move (or don't) as babies does effect the way we move as adults.
Try this: Get down on all fours and crawl across the room moving unilaterally, with only one side at a time (right arm with right leg, left arm with left leg). Pretty awkward, right? Now, crawl across the room in a way that feels natural. I bet you were moving contralaterally — right arm with left leg, and vice versa. Stand up and walk across the room nice and slow, paying attention to how your arms swing in relation to your legs. See that contralateral pattern again? Now try walking unilaterally. Awkward! See where I'm going with this...?
When a baby begins crawling, millions of pathways are laid down between their brain and muscles that form the foundation for more advanced motor skills like walking. The body likes symmetry, so while crawling with one leg up or skipping straight to walking is certainly not a gross-motor kiss of death, it is guaranteed to produce some errant pathways while leaving out some crucial ones altogether. This is why pediatricians stress tummy time, and why the use of a baby walker can actually lead to late-walking (and is strongly discouraged by the AAP) — when it comes to motor skill development, every milestone counts.
If your little one has a funny habit — maybe they walk on their toes, for example — it’s better to address it now than in their teens or adulthood, according to Structural Integrator Eli Thompson. Rolfing, structural integration, chiropractic, and movement therapies like Feldenkrais are all non-invasive, kid appropriate ways to assist proper motor skill development.
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