April 3, 2017

Child Physical Therapy: Walk before Crawl

          “My child is walking but he never crawled. Will he have developmental problems down the road?” Susan Buttross, professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of child development along with behavioral pediatrics at University of Mississippi Medical Center, says no. Years ago, people believed that children who did not crawl would have learning disabilities or other developmental problems later in life, but there is no evidence to support that claim. More children may be crawling later or skipping it all together due to “The Back to Sleep” campaign. The campaign promotes sleeping on the back instead of the stomach to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Crawling is an exciting milestone for families because it is the first time their child is moving around independently. Parents become worrisome if their child is not following the typical growth pattern, but crawling can take many different forms. The traditional crawl involves the child moving on their hands and knees, but other types include bottom shuffling or scooting on their bottom, army crawling with their stomach on the floor, bear walk with hands and feet on floor, or rolling from side to side. Mobility is the most important aspect of “crawling” not the style.

Crawling (scooting, army crawl, pulling up, etc) usually begins around 7-10 months. Tummy time is essential to develop the core muscles necessary for crawling. Facilitate tummy time for several minutes a few times per day. Motivation is a great way to encourage movement. Place a toy or desired item just beyond your child’s reach. Your child will likely try to move closer to the toy. If your child is starting to walk, have one parent hold the baby’s hand and the other stand a few steps away cheering him or her on.

If your child is already pulling to stand or taking steps while holding your hands without crawling, do not be concerned. Some babies develop the gross motor skills needed to walk earlier than others. It is important that your child can roll over and sit-up independently, but the milestones leading up to walking may vary. As long as your baby can coordinate both sides of their body equally, then they are developing on par. If your baby has stiffness or weakness that is limiting their gross motor develop, contact your pediatrician.



Carr, Nancy. “Why Some Babies Skip the Crawling Stage.” Today’s Parent. N.p., 17 Mar. 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

The Baby Center Team. “Is It True That Babies Who Skip the Crawling Stage May Have Learning Problems Later?” BabyCenter. N.p., 20 Mar. 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

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