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Is the crawling milestone no longer necessary for a child's development? |

Is the crawling milestone no longer necessary for a child’s development?

This article provides helpful information about if the crawling milestone is still necessary. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

Is crawling no longer a necessary milestone? Many studies and experts in the past have championed crawling as one of the most important milestones for a child’s motor and cognitive development.

In fact, experts like Dr. Carla Hannaford, Neurophysiologist, have gone so far as to say, “We have known for years that children who miss the vitally important crawling stage may exhibit learning difficulties later on.” (Dr. Carla Hannaford, Smart Moves)

Why do experts believe crawling is so important?

Crawling requires cross lateral movement, which many believe activates both the right and left sides of the brain. These types of exercises can help the emotional and logical sides of the brain develop for better learning growth.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new milestone guidelines in March 2022 for babies and toddlers without crawling listed as a key milestone.

Was it an oversight or a mistake?

In the study, under “Motor Milestones,” it lists…

“Pushes up with straight arms when on tummy” as a milestone at six months,

But then skips to “Pulls up to Stand” at 12 months (with a few sitting milestones in between).

Crawling, as a milestone, is nowhere listed in the new milestone guidelines.

Many Occupational Therapists, Pediatric Therapists and other specialists were surprised at the results of the study and are questioning why it was removed from their guidelines.

One even joked, “Maybe babbling will also be removed from developmental milestones.”

Are what therapists saying a real concern and should we continue to work on crawling with our children as a necessary milestone? Or, will future generations show that crawling doesn’t necessarily guarantee an “academically advanced” child?

And what about the Bauer Crawling Reflex? Will this lead to more kids with a retained Bauer reflex if they skip the crawling phase?

While many kids who skip the crawling phase do reach their academic potential, it’s important that ALL children are allowed to have the opportunity to build their motor skills.

No matter if a child crawls or not, we strongly encourage parents give their babies access to a full range of toys, tummy time, swings and other tools that give kids the stimulation their brains need to learn and grow.

If a child shows signs of crawling and the desire to creep and crawl, encourage them and give them every opportunity to do so within their environment.

Crawling and creeping on hands and knees contributes to many sensations, which is important for a child’s overall sensory development.

In addition, it will help strengthen a child’s visual spatial skills and spatial awareness as they begin to read and write letters and words on the page in years to come.

“As he [a child] crawls and creeps from one place to another, he learns the physical structure of space, and this helps him to understand what he sees. If the child at this age has difficulty integrating the sensations of crawling and creeping, he may have trouble later on judging distance and size.” (Jean Ayers, Ph.D., Sensory Integration and the Child)

So even if crawling is listed on the study or not, is it still good practice to help kids crawl when they are ready and willing?

Give Kids a “Roadmap” to ALL Types of Movement

As long as kids are given a “roadmap” to ALL types of movement that incorporate…

  • Sensory (touching, smelling, seeing, hearing, etc.)
  • Vestibular (swinging, rocking, jumping, rolling, bouncing, etc.)
  • Proprioception (pushing, pulling, etc.)
  • Tactile (chewing, grasping, sucking, etc.)

…then chances are your kids will be just fine. But, without a wide-range of activities that give kids the chance to explore and move their bodies, there is a greater potential for learning delays in the future.

Is it really worth the risk?

Such a simple exercise may not be listed in the new guidelines as necessary for all kids, but it could be the KEY exercise for a select few. No matter how your child develops, we want to give them every chance possible to reach their fullest academic potential.

“The more the child explores, the more his senses are stimulated and the more complex the adaptive response required. The more varied his play, the more it contributes to his development.” (Jean Ayers, Ph.D., Sensory Integration and the Child)

To download a PDF version for some crawling benefits and recommendations, enter your email address below for the free printable.

Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs


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