Did you know that this generation of kids is less likely to crawl than any generation in the history of toddlers? That is, if you live in the U.S. or the U.K. We have embraced the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) “Back To Sleep” program which trains new Moms to place their babies on their backs to minimize suffocation risk. Gratefully, there has been a decrease in SIDS. We’ve just forgotten the second part of the message…”Tummy Time for PLAY.” Why care if kids don’t crawl? Many pediatricians advise us to use a different developmental milestone to guage a child’s development. However, crawling creates capable kids.
Bucket Babies. Have you noticed that our babies are now placed in “infant carriers” for a good part of the day? We apparently can no longer carry a baby, or transport a baby with out an infant carrier. What happened to the old-fashioned supporting a child with one arm? And juggling daily chores with a baby, dipping and bending to get things done…baby in tow? Their heads could perceive this movement, building a foundation for balance reactions. Their little bodies would be challenged by gravity, building core muscles. Our sweet babies now spend hours a day, flat on their backs, in rigid plastic…then go to sleep, where else, but on their backs!  

Why crawl? The Walk The Walk  blog by Susan Simms is an excellent description of some of the benefits of crawling. As a school-based occupational therapist, I was often asked what the best tool or activity was to help handwriting. Teachers were confused when I said, “a tunnel.” If you are a teacher of pre-K, K, 1st and 2nd grades, you can help our kids by using tunnels, animal walks and tummy reading. You will strengthen all the muscles that are developed in our generation of “bucket babies.” These muscles of the neck, shoulders, wrists, back and even the muscles that help our eyes work that are essential for schoolwork. Here’s a list of some of the reasons crawling creates capable kids:

  1. Strengthens neck muscles used for reading and looking from the desk to the whiteboard
  2. Builds wrist strength, essential for writing control
  3. Strengthens shoulder muscles used in all fine-motor tasks, especially writing
  4. Builds core muscles of the back and abdomen used for sitting comfortably in a chair
  5. Strengthens ocular control essential for reading and locating objects in the classroom
  6. Cross crawl integrates reflexes to ensure efficiency in motor tasks like drinking from a drinking fountain
  7. Cross crawl helps the body reach across midline making tasks, like getting crayons out of the box, or drawing diagonal lines and letters, executed more efficiently
  8. Crawling builds core muscles that help breathing, and breathing effectively calms the body 

-Sue Wilkenson