I am thrilled to introduce you to my former colleague and guest blogger, Dr. Rebecca Talmud, PT, DPT of Dinosaur Physical Therapy. Rebecca is the an extremely talented pediatric PT, not to mention, the kids go absolutely bonkers over her! She can make even those extremely difficult children do literally anything just by engaging them in silly, lighthearted play. Even more impressive than her fun demeanor is her extensive experience and pediatric PT knowledge. I have had the pleasure of working alongside her in our younger years, when we were both new therapists practicing in New York City. She now runs her own Physical Therapy practice in Washington, D.C. and also writes her own pediatric PT therapy blog.
I am really excited to partner with her and feature one of her articles, entitled Teaching Children to Crawl. I know this article will be helpful to so many moms out there trying to figure out how to help encourage crawling skills with their little ones.
Teaching Children to Crawl by Dr. Rebecca Talmud , PT, DPT
Crawling is a motor milestone that requires strength, coordination and motor planning. As children practice Tummy Time and begin to weight bear more through their arms, pushing up and exploring the environment around them, they will develop more dynamic control.
You will first notice your child reaching out one arm at a time to grab at objects, pushing up into a quadruped (or 4 point pattern), and rocking back and forth on hands and knees.
Motivating objects or people can help to encourage the child to move forward, first on their belly using mostly upper body strength to pull themselves along, then arms and legs in an army or commando crawl pattern and finally in a true reciprocal pattern alternating moving arms and legs in a coordinated and efficient manner. Once your child masters crawling there is no stopping them!
- Prone Position Pushing Chest off Surface Weight Bearing through Hands: 4-6 months
- Prone Position Pushing Up and Shifting Weight to One Hand to Reach with Other Hand:6-8 months
- Belly Crawling: 7-9 months
- Maintain Quadruped Position: 8-9 months
- Commando Crawling: 8-9 months
- Independent Reciprocal Crawling: 9-11 months
All milestones exist on a continuum as each child builds upon their motor development as a foundation. Motor Milestones, such as crawling, may develop earlier or later based on the child’s unique developmental sequence, strength, coordination, motivation and opportunities for practice.
Tips to Encourage Independent Crawling
1. Encourage Tummy Time -While playing on their stomach, children develop strength in arms, shoulders, upper back and trunk. All these muscles are necessary for crawling! For more Tummy Time Tips and Tricks read our post here!
2. Encourage Upper Body Weight Bearing - By allowing child opportunities to push up through arms, we can help develop strength and stability of shoulder girdle, facilitate tactile and proprioceptive input into hands, and allow the child opportunities to explore their environment with more control and independence.
3. Encouraging Reaching - Placing desirable objects within reach, allows the child opportunities to lift hands off support surface and manipulate objects. This will allow for weight shifting which is essential in the development of crawling. We can continue to challenge the child by moving objects farther from their reach, encouraging movement towards objects and facilitating independent mobility
4. Promote Quadruped Position - By facilitating weight bearing through arms and knees we can promote stability and control in quadruped. Using bolster, wedge or therapy ball can encourage dynamic stability in quadruped and facilitate motor learning in a fun manner.
5. Change Up the Environment - Bring child to park, to a friend’s house, to an indoor play space. New environments, different floor surfaces and novel sensory experiences may help encourage development of motor skills.
6. Ensure Obstacle-Free Space to Explore - As parents and caregivers we are always mindful of ensuring the environment is a safe one. Once we begin to think about a child’s mobility we need to reevaluate each new space we expose them to. Make sure the floor is free from any obstacles or objects that can be potentially dangerous. A play tunnel can be a great safe space to promote crawling!
Crawling Red Flags
It is important to contact your Pediatrician or a Pediatric Physical Therapist if you notice the following by child’s first birthday:
If child does not seem motivated to move independently
If child is unable to bear weight through hands and/or knees
If child seems to drag one side of body when crawling
If child is not making incremental progress in motor milestone acquisition
Feel free to contact us directly with specific questions or concerns via email at email@example.com