Educators often hear from therapists, “When in doubt, crawl, crawl, crawl!” It seems from the onset, crawling is an amazing develop-mental activity that translates into all kinds of academic success.
The importance of a long crawling and creeping period in development is often overlooked by Pediatricians and parents. Many just don’t know the vital importance of this developmental milestone and impact later on in life.
As Occupational Therapists, we see children daily that have poor reading skills, difficulty tracking visually left to right, poor hand dominance or crossing of midline, decreased trunk strength (may look fidgety or ADHD), poor handwriting, immature grasp patterns and difficulty with fine motor skills all due to short or missed belly time!
Head Start For Crawling
Infants should spend as much time as possible on their bellies from the time they can turn their head at a few weeks when playing.
Babies should not spend their “floor time” in supported sitting, car seats, entertainers, walkers, or johnny jumpers! Floor time should be a priority every day, getting down in the floor on belly learning to control their bodies, gain core strength, learn what their hands can do while their vision is engaged, and making millions of neural connections for later skills.
Getting on their bellies sooner will prevent a myriad of developmental and learning delays later in development!
Common Hurdles To Tummy Time
If an infant does not like belly time or is not crawling by 7 months or creeping by 9 months, then there could be issues that need to be evaluated by a pediatric PT and OT.
Some children who have food sensitivities to cow’s milk and heavy sinus pressure avoid this position due to the pressure on their ear canals.
A child with touch sensory defensiveness will avoid being on belly and hands, a sure sign that pediatric sensory based OT is needed asap!
Infants with clinically low muscle tone will need therapy to help get them in this position and help this important stage develop.
All red flags need a pediatric OT or PT eval, this is not something to wait and see about.
Please don’t “wait and see”…the time is NOW for therapy evaluation if a child is 9 months and is not crawling and beginning to creep, or avoids belly time all together. Most infants start creeping within a few therapy sessions!
Crawling is when you are on your belly “like an army man or snake”. Creeping is when you are on your hands and knees like a “cat creeping up on a mouse”