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How Important Is Crawling?

The most important developmental motor milestone of infancy

Every child is born with a set of infantile reflexes that are imperative in the first year of life. These reflexes are initially used to move the body in different ways, that will eventually help the child to develop volitional movement patterns. These volitional movement patterns are established through the occurrence of developmental motor milestones: i.e. bringing hands to mouth, rolling, sitting, crawling, cruising etc. The development of these self-directed movements assists in turning off the infantile reflexes and facilitates the growth of the child’s physical and emotional self, and allows the child to learn in their environment in a typical way.

Sometimes in development, our children will experience a “hiccup” in their ability to switch off (integrate) these reflexes. When these hiccups occur, children will frequently find ways around the difficult circumstance by skipping the steps that are not working. This skipping occurs because the reflex patterns are too strong to work through and it becomes easier to just work with the reflexive tone, than against it.

One of the key motor milestones that I see skipped most often is Bauer Crawling, also know as the “Army Crawl.”

So often I see, and hear, families discuss the “advanced” skills in their infant, and how they started walking by 8-9 months. Although to a parent this may seem exciting to have a child doing things early, as an OT, this bring about alarming indications for future physical, emotional and cognitive development of the child.

Bauer crawling is a developmental motor milestone that is important for a wide variety of future skills. It is a milestone that integrates the cerebellum, which is the part of our brain that helps with coordination, balance, and attention. It is a milestone that teaches our children to look outside themselves and seek others within the environment. It gives our children the ability to pursue peer relationships, explore the environment, and move forward (physically and emotionally). As a therapist, I would have to say that it is probably the most important skill a child can learn in the first year.

Skipping Bauer crawling can indicate immaturity of the central nervous system and lead to the following delays in early childhood:

  • Toriticollis can cause the skip of crawling
  • ADHD
  • Poor balance/clumsy
  • Difficulty reading (convergence/tracking issues)
  • Difficulty moving forward emotionally
  • Difficulty attaching/connecting to others (peers)
  • Dyslexia (reading or spelling related)
  • Poor sense of direction (Left/Right)
  • Poor academic abilities
  • Impulsivity
  • Confused handedness
  • Foot problems (very high or very flat feet)
  • Bowed legs

Any of these symptoms require development of the central nervous system and can be remediated with Reflex Integration.

If you feel your child experiences any of these difficulties or has recently skipped this crawling stage, set up a FREE consultation to discuss options for improving your child’s ability to learn.

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