Jan 09 022

Educators often hear from therapists, “When in doubt, crawl, crawl, crawl!” It seems from the onset, crawling is an amazing develop-mental activity that translates into all kinds of academic success.

The importance of a long crawling and creeping period in development is often overlooked by Pediatricians and parents. Many just don’t know the vital importance of this developmental milestone and impact later on in life.

As Occupational Therapists, we see children daily that have poor reading skills, difficulty tracking visually left to right, poor hand dominance or crossing of midline, decreased trunk strength (may look fidgety or ADHD), poor handwriting, immature grasp patterns and difficulty with fine motor skills all due to short or missed belly time!

Infants should spend as much time as possible on their bellies from the time they can turn their head at a few weeks when playing. Babies should not spend their “floor time” in supported sitting, car seats, entertainers, walkers, or johnny jumpers! Floor time should be a priority every day, getting down in the floor on belly learning to control their bodies, gain core strength, learn what their hands can do while their vision is engaged, and making millions of neural connections for later skills. Getting on their bellies sooner will prevent a myriad of developmental and learning delays later in development!

If an infant does not like belly time or is not crawling by 7 months or creeping by 9 months, then there could be issues that need to be evaluated by a pediatric PT and OT. Some children who have food sensitivities to cow’s milk and heavy sinus pressure avoid this position due to the pressure on their ear canals. A child with touch sensory defensiveness will avoid being on belly and hands, a sure sign that pediatric sensory based OT is needed asap! Infants with clinically low muscle tone will need therapy to help get them in this position and help this important stage develop. All red flags need a pediatric OT or PT eval, this is not something to wait and see about.

Please don’t “wait and see”…the time is NOW for therapy evaluation if a child is 9 months and is not crawling and beginning to creep, or avoids belly time all together. Most infants start creeping within a few therapy sessions!

Crawling is when you are on your belly “like an army man or snake”.
Creeping is when you are on your hands and knees like a “cat creeping up on a mouse”

Doing this activity even through older ages helps in all areas of development:
• Calms by activating heavy work receptors in the muscles and joints
• Continues to calm by building muscles that help breathing
• Helps children sit in chairs by building back and stomach muscles
• Coordinates two body sides so hand specialization is more likely to occur
• Improves handwriting by developing shoulder, arm, and wrist stability
• Helps develop fine-motor coordination as it builds the arches of the hand
• Decreases touch sensitivities by deep input and rubbing the floor
• Integrates many of the primitive reflexes, integration of these reflexes is vital to gaining higher motor skills
• Strengthens trunk, shoulder and arm strength which is needed to sit and attend
• Sets up the communication in the brain across the midline of the brain which is needed for reading skills to occur
• Increases muscle tone, muscle strength, and coordination throughout the body

The benefits of a good long crawling and creeping stage are too many to just “wait and see” about. An early walker is not always a sign of good development. Many of the children we see later in 1st-4th grade with reading, writing, and handwriting issues were early walkers. Please don’t hesitate to get an evaluation and necessary treatment for your precious one!
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies Cookeville TN
http://www.developmentaldelay.net 931-372-2567 Heidi@covd.biz

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