THE CRAWLING MILESTONE
Crawling plays a significant part in the development of your baby’s strength, balance, spinal alignment, visual/spatial skills and social emotional development. Here's how. Weight-bearing and coordination
Crawling engages your baby’s whole body. As baby crawls she has to use her arms and legs to support her whole body, strengthening her hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. This weight-bearing experience allows ligaments to be stretched out, assisting the development of fine motor skills. It also expands the large joint at the base of the thumb into its full range of motion – important for drawing and writing skills later on. Crawling also plays an important role in forming the curves in baby’s spine.
As baby crawls, the right and left sides of the brain and body work cooperatively, building a foundation for skills that require motor coordination. Navigating on the ground also helps with the development of visual and spatial skills, and depth perception. Crawling from one place to another, baby uses her distance vision to look ahead and set her sights on a toy. She then looks back at her hands which requires her to adjust the focus of her eyes – this is training her eyes, muscles and improving binocular vision (the ability to use both eyes together as a team). This is very important for future reading and writing skills.
Crawling about independently gives baby freedom to set new goals through providing new opportunities. There are also new possibilities for successes and challenges, affecting emotional development, and building baby's confidence.
Like many other skills, crawling has its own timetable and it is important not to push a baby into standing and walking before they are ready. Moving naturally through fundamental movement patterns early in life is essential for healthy development, and we can help by making sure we give our baby enough time on the floor for uninterrupted exploration and play.
Pauline Allen, Home Grown Kids visiting teacher
You feel like putting yourself in time out. The feeling that you cannot be without your toddler seems to dim slightly and you start craving some time away. (Is this why we start funding 20 free hours in NZ childcare centres from three years old?).
Compromise is not an option. Before, you could gently coax or persuade them into thinking wearing their gumboots was a good idea. Now it’s an all-out brawl! They end up wearing the gumboots but on the wrong feet because they fight for them to be on the wrong feet. All the while you feel the grey hairs beginning to sprout on your head.
Easy tasks are huge tasks. Putting a lid on their drink bottle has to be done by them, their way, in their time. Half an hour later, after a fit of rage and water everywhere, the lid is on the bottle.
You think you have them pegged in the eating department – you feel you know what they like and what they don’t. Nope, it’s like their taste buds change daily and they almost enjoy not liking any food anymore! They don’t want to walk anymore. What used to be a fierce independence in walking unchartered territory has now given way to wobbly legs and tiredness. You vow not to carry them since they are so heavy, but as they scream along behind you in public and attract sympathetic stares from onlookers, you reluctantly pick them up and continue walking. They win.
Bedtime is a fight to the bitter end. They used to love naps and going to bed, but now there is every excuse in the world to not go to sleep and they will get up numerous times (even though they are exhausted).
You love them unconditionally and they know it. They know that it makes you immensely happy when they tidy up, so just as you are about to lose your cool, they begin tidying up their toys without being asked. So you scoop them up for a cuddle to thank them for being so amazing. (Then they tell you not to help as they are tidying their way!).