“Crawling is an important gross motor development milestone,” says physiotherapist Karen Rothbart. In order to crawl, babies need strength and stability in the muscles around the shoulder blades, also known as the girdle. They also need abdominal strength, as well as the ability to rotate the trunk over the hips (so that they are able to cross over the body’s midline).
To encourage a baby to start crawling, the above three components need to be addressed, and Karen suggests the following helpful and easy exercises that you can do at home.
4 exercises to get baby crawling
1. To strengthen the shoulders girdle, do activities that get your baby to put weight on his arms, such as lying on his tummy and pushing up on straight arms.
2. To strengthen abdominal muscles, sit your baby on a ball and, while holding his hips, bounce the ball gently. Roll the ball slowly in small circles while he is sitting on the ball. Make sure that he holds his body upright.
3. After nappy changes, hold your baby’s hands and encourage him to lift his upper body off the mat and to come up into a sitting position.
4. To encourage rotation (crossing of the midline), place toys on either side of your baby while he is sitting up and playing. Encourage him to reach across his body with the opposite hand to fetch his toy.
“Some people believe that their children are more advanced and intelligent because they skipped the crawling stage and went straight to walking, but this is not the case,” says Karen.
More helpful tips to get your baby crawling
Babies should be given “tummy time” from 12 weeks onward to encourage muscle tone and core strength, according to clinical sister Larraine Mey. “Babies need at least 15 minutes of tummy time, three times a day, to develop their neck and back muscles. Start with just a minute or two until your baby gets used to the concept,” she says.
Another way to encourage your baby’s movement development is through the use of Huggies Nappy Pants from the minute he starts wriggling (from 7kgs up to 25kgs). The Nappy Pants have soft and stretchy side panels and flexible leg elastics that allow your baby freer movement to crawl, climb and roll more easily.
As absorbent as regular nappies, the new pants are available for babies from 7kg up to 25kg, and will give them the freedom to wriggle, crawl, climb and roll more easily, enabling them to explore to their hearts’ content.
When to take action
Paediatric occupational therapist Dr Anne Zachary advises that you consult your doctor if, by the age of 12 months, your baby:
- Hasn’t shown an interest in getting mobile at all, even bottom shuffling, slithering, scooting or rolling
- Hasn’t figured out how to use his arms and legs together in a coordinated motion, or
- Can’t use both arms and both legs equally well.
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