Many parents ask about crawling and if it is important or not. There is a sequence of events that must happen before a child will ever start to use the first movements of opposite arms and legs. If a child is crawling, it means that both sides of their brain are able to communicate with each other. When a baby comes into this world they have a set motor pattern and their primitive reflexes lock the neurology into these particular patterns. The moro reflex and the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex are two important reflexes your baby has at the beginning of their life. Babies must be able to push through these reflexes and on to the next to be able to crawl successfully.
The moro reflex focuses on flexing and extending by being startled by a sudden change in their environment. The asymmetrical tonic neck reflex is the ability for the baby’s arm and leg to go in the direction that a baby is turning their head. That puts a cut down the midline of our body. If the baby doesn’t get to crawling where it is using the opposite arm and leg, then that particular reflex will be stuck. If the reflex gets stuck, then the baby’s eyes won’t be able to cross the midline. A baby’s eyes need to be able to cross the midline to be able to learn how to read or to know how to do anything that involves going from left to right.
If the reflex continues on and isn’t stuck, the child’s neurology is completely changed. So when a child moves through the primitive reflexes we get to see the maturation of development because the child is going into first the commando crawl, where they look like they are slithering on their bellies. In the commando crawl they tend to really pull themselves with their arms. Their legs aren’t really involved, although they are digging their toes into the ground. Digging their toes into the ground is very important because it will help them come upright on their hands and knees so they will be able to take that motor skill stride of left arm, right leg and right arm, left leg.
It is very important that children crawl. It is an extremely important milestone for both sides of the brain hemispheres to be able to communicate with one another. There is function on both sides of a baby’s brain, but they do different things. For example, the need to talk is on the right side of your brain. The work of actually talking is on the left side. If you don’t have the right timing between both hemispheres then that piece of neurology as your maturing is interfered with.
The milestone of crawling is important, so it is not okay to tell parents that it is okay if their child doesn’t crawl. There are typical patterns that you are supposed to see. They are laying down important parts of neurology that they are going to use for their entire lives. It is very important to understand developmental milestones so that you know how to look and see if your child is following the typical neurological pattern. Also check with someone like me who is able to check that your baby is on the right track in their development!