Child Development – The Cross Crawl

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Crawling is such an important stage in child development and yet many parents are not fully aware of the benefits crawling has for their child.

Crawling is a major milestone and plays a vital role in development as not only does it help to inhibit some of the primitive reflexes it also helps develop the brain, muscles, balance and visual skills.

The Cross Crawl

The Cross Crawl

There are a number of different types of crawling which you may be familiar with, such as the commando crawl, bum scooting (or bum shuffling) and even rolling to get around. However if at all possible we should do what we can to encourage the traditional “Cross Crawl”.

This is where the baby bears their weight on their hands and knees moving one arm and the opposite leg together in order to move forward.

Until a baby learns how to crawl they tend to operate homolateral (one sided). For example, right arm and right leg moving together. The cross crawl is the first time that opposite sides of the body work together to perform a deliberate task on purpose. The cross crawl helps and encourages crossing of the mid-line. The mid-line is the invisible line that runs down our centre and divides the left side from the right side of the body. Crossing of the mid-line is very important for further development and also for the two hemispheres (sides) of the brain. It indicates that the left side of the brain is working with the right side of the brain and vice versa. This development allows for more complicated process to evolve as the child develops.

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Moving one arm and the opposite leg together to move forward.

We continue to use this cross-crawl movement when we walk, run and swim. It is this movement that builds the bridge between the left and right sides of the brain allowing information to flow between the two.

Because of this it is important to encourage your baby to use this style of crawling. You can encourage crawling by getting down on the floor with your little one and doing crawling movements that they can mimic. You can play games on the floor with their favourite toys and create obstacle courses for them using pillows and blankets. If you have fun, they will have fun.  Try to remember that slippery or cold surfaces may deter baby from wanting to crawl.

It is also important to keep in mind that babies develop at different rates and if your little one was a premature baby they may reach this and other milestones a little later than their peers. However, if you have any concerns at all about your little one arrange a visit with your public health nurse or your little ones doctor and they will be able to discuss your concerns with you.