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Crawling

The experience of crawling has a critical role in an infant’s development and there is growing evidence that crawling plays a significant role in the development of an infant’s;
• Strength
• Balance
• Spinal alignment
• Visual-spatial skills
• Socio-emotional development
Crawling is a whole body activity for an infant. While crawling she/he raise their torso off the floor through the use of his or her arms and legs. While supporting his or her body weight, he/she is strengthening the muscles in his/her torso, shoulders, arms, hands and legs.
Fine motor skill development is also being developed as an infant crawls. As an infant crawls his/her wrists are held in an extended position while body weight is being applied. This supports the development of arches in the hands. The arches within the palm of your hand affords the ability to;
• Grasp objects of various sizes and shape.
• Allow specific finger movements.
• Control the power of your grasp.

Crawling promotes healthy development of the spine

We are born with a C-shaped spinal curve and three spinal curves develop as a consequence of different gravitational stresses the body endures as an infant grows. The spinal curves that are as a result of gravitational stresses are; the cervical, lumbar and thoracic curves.
The first spinal curve to develop is the cervical curve as a result of an infant lifting its head. As an infant crawls, body weight is exerted downwards on the spine resulting in a second curve to develop in the lower back (lumbar). The human body is naturally deigned to form this curve. The thoracic curve is already there as part of the C-shaped curve an infant starts out with and is positioned between the cervical and lumbar curves.

The spinal curve, s shape, is extremely important as it serves important functions such as;
• Allows your body to sustain balance while standing upright and sitting.
• Allows your body to move in multiple directions.
• Overall it acts as a big ‘S’ shaped spring so that the spine can more evenly and distribute the strain and stress placed on it by the activities you do.

spine

It is of great importance to allow these curves to form naturally so that an infant acquires a healthy spine. By encouraging an infant to walk or stand too soon may lead to forces being applied to an underdeveloped spine causing mal-formation of the spine (curved too much or too little).
Crawling supports the development of visual skills. As a result of crawling from one place to another an infant is required to look into the distance and set his/her sights on a target/goal. Intermittently an infant will look at his/her hands which requires the refocusing of vision. These readjustments are beneficial for training the eye muscles and improving binocular vision (the ability to use eyes in synchrony). Binocular vision is essential for future skills such as reading and writing.

Crawling and Creeping: The Benefits

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