Crawling and Brain Development: Why Does it Matter?
Walking may be the landmark milestone relatives ooh and aah over, but it wouldn’t be possible without crawling development. Considered the first independent form of movement, crawling is a significant milestone in your child’s development. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this first physical milestone alters how humans function psychologically. Translation: crawling is a non-negotiable for developmental well-being. As they wade through the developmental stages of crawling, children experience a whole new world for themselves. Typically, kids reach this milestone between 6-9 months, setting the stage for other essential skills through crawling development.
As parents, why does this matter? When your little ones start to crawl, they are learning to support their body weight with their hands. This is a fundamental part of future skills they develop, such as holding toys and other objects, feeding themselves, and even handwriting. The more they crawl, the more confident they’ll feel in their abilities to support themselves, putting them on a clear path to independence and autonomy.
Crawling is foundational for things like balance, coordination, and sensory skills. Moving about independently, kids discover and perceive their environments, becoming more spatially aware day by day. Once they start, they can’t stop! Consider crawling a gateway movement; preceding more advanced activities like climbing, sitting up, and walking. The truth is, crawling and brain development go hand in hand. And while walking is exhilarating, there is definite cause for concern if a baby skips crawling altogether. Luckily, parents can take a proactive role in encouraging crawling and brain development in children!
Crawling: 6-9 Months
We are wired with an undeniable instinct to move – and around the six-month mark, you’ll notice your baby start to express this desire. Suddenly, the ground is their oyster! They’re crawling, exploring, and perceiving the world around them in a totally different light. While babies typically crawl around the 6-9 month mark, they’ve been preparing for this moment – quite literally – their entire lives. In the months leading up, infants strengthen important muscles through crawling development activities (such as tummy time) that allow them to risk it all for the thrill of the crawl. By building up the necessary muscles to crawl, walk, and more, your child is simultaneously stimulating and altering their brain. Experts report crawling to specifically strengthen the Pons and Midbrain, making it paramount for proper development.
How to Encourage Crawling Development
As a parent, you can aid in your baby’s crawling development by doing a few things around the home. MayoClinic suggests parents can encourage development by making playtime a priority and creating an “exploration-safe environment.” An expert in the field of child development herself, Dr. Debra Harwood goes so far as to say that learning and play are inseparable.
We recommend clearing any crawlable space of objects at risk of potentially harming your child. This includes anything they might be tempted to pick up (even things they previously couldn’t). Do a thorough sweep of hardwood floors to ensure no stray nails, wood, or other harmful items are hiding in plain sight. You can also induce crawling development by placing your baby’s favorite toys in front of them, encouraging them to move toward them.
What Comes After Crawling?
Your little one is moving and grooving like never before and pretty soon, they’ll take their first steps on their own. One small step for baby, one giant memory for mom and dad! Every child’s journey to walking is unique, but the national average shakes out right at about 12 months old. Remember, each child is on their own timeline! If you believe your child is skipping or missing developmental milestones, be sure to reach out to your pediatrician as soon as possible.
Walking: 12 - 16 Months
Just as babies exercise muscles that help them crawl before they actually begin to, they do the same formative preparation for walking. As they lean into adventure, crawling faster and faster, your child will start to show signs that they’re ready to walk. They might start by pulling themselves up onto surfaces or show interest in walking with your support. Studies show the more active and involved you are with your child, the more likely they are to walk around the 1-year mark. Additionally, the NIH found that the more an infant’s movement is restricted (such as being swaddled or strapped to a chair), the more likely they are to begin walking later. Walking signals the start of Cortex development in the brain, paving the way for Prefrontal Cortex development until they’re 25 years old. To say this is a fundamental milestone is quite the understatement!
Running and Jumping: 2 - 3 Years Old
The toddler phase gets a bad rap, often referred to as “the terrible twos.” In reality, this age is a magical time for your family and a glimpse into who your child will grow up to be. Mastering the art of walking independently, you can expect your toddler to begin experimenting even more with movement. Because of the pivotal skills and muscles established in crawling development, your child will not only walk the walk, but they’ll run the run, jump the jump, and even play around with balancing on one leg! The age of 2-3 years ushers in a whimsical time for parents, where they see their kids making literal bounds and leaps as they embrace balance and coordination.
Encourage Montessori Development With PlayWilder Toys
PlayWilder Montessori Toys are meant to make playtime fun AND functional. Watch your children safely explore themselves through different developmental stages and have fun while doing it. Create the ultimate environment for crawling and brain development with our Epic 3-Piece Montessori Cube Climbing Gym. The perfect set for children ages six and up, playtime will never be the same! All of our products are made in the U.S. and designed with your family in mind.