By Tara Liddle
Young infants playing on their belly will eventually begin to weight-shift, belly pivot, and push up, and reach for objects (see our blog on Tummy Time). They may also spend time moving forward and backward on their tummy (commando crawling) and in and out of side-propping positions as well. The strength needed to crawl on hands and knees comes from all the earlier tummy time play.
Eventually, the infant will push back onto their knees. The quadruped position is the hands and knees position. Once in this position, the infant will begin to rock forward and back. This rocking provides both vestibular and proprioceptive input. Before actually moving forward to crawl your baby may move backward. Sooner or later, crawling will be the primary mode of locomotion.
Crawling requires core strength, motor planning, coordination, and balance. Quadruped crawling helps to improve the proximal strength of the hips and shoulders and also the wrists, hands, and fingers. Crawling builds confidence and learning by allowing for exploration. It is an important milestone for the typically developing child and helps to prepare the body for more advanced activities.
Activities for Crawling
Encourage balance and strengthening by having your baby reach for toys when they are up on their hands and knees. First, have the toy within reach and then slowly begin moving the object slightly out of reach.
Have your baby crawl over you or large pillows scattered on the floor. This is great for strengthening, coordination, and balance.
Explore crawling through large boxes or tunnels. This an excellent activity for proprioceptive sense and coordination. The infant will figure out how to get in and out while also learning about size-does my body fit in this box or tunnel.