When you’re a parent, the instant your baby crawls for the first time is one of the proudest moments of your life. Watching your little one tackle a big milestone is indescribable. But what if your child is taking longer than expected to crawl? Should you encourage him to skip the crawling stage and jump right into walking?
This is a valid question for patients who get impatient or think it’s somehow beneficial for a child to walk as soon as possible, but experts beg to differ.
Here are seven reasons why crawling is important for your child, and why you shouldn’t encourage walking before your baby reaches this essential developmental milestone.
1. She’s Strengthening Her Muscles
Rocking back and forth on all fours, scooting and crawling all help to strengthen Baby’s hands, shoulders, legs and trunk muscles. She needs to build strength in these areas if she wants to continue developing properly and reaching more milestones. If your little girl skips this important phase of development and goes right to walking, she may not develop her strength and hand-eye coordination as well.
2. He Learns to Connect With You From a Distance
Your little guy is used to connecting with you on a skin-to-skin basis. When he learns how to move away from you, he also learns that he can connect with you from a distance. He also learns how to pick up on your verbal and physical cues when you direct him not to touch something or gently move him away from something that might harm him. He also learns that even when you’re not right next to him or holding him, you can still offer him support and guidance when he needs it.
3. She Becomes More Observant
Your cute baby girl learns to become more observant when she’s an active participant in her surroundings. As her surroundings change and “move” past her as she crawls forward, she starts to process her surroundings differently and notice everything around her. She’s also learning to make note of landmarks in the home and how they relate to her current location.
4. He Learns How To Navigate Household Obstacles
The world becomes a much different place when someone else isn’t navigating for you. When your little guy starts scooting around, he must learn how to get around obstacles in his way. He also learns how to move himself to desired areas of the home (for example, he might learn that taking a right turn past the couch will take him to the amazing toy room!).
5. She Develops Fine Motor Skills
As your cutie becomes more confident maneuvering around her environment, she’ll develop fine motor skills that can be used to move things to her mouth (just make sure she doesn’t do this with things she grabs off the floor) and grasp items. The earlier she develops these fine motor skills, the easier it will be for her to do things like fasten buttons and hold a pencil properly as she grows older.
6. He Learns Confidence
When your baby first tries to crawl, he’ll probably become frustrated and may experience a lot of emotions. However, as he pushes through these emotions and eventually succeeds at moving forward, his confidence will grow. He’ll learn that persisting past failure is important for success. He’ll also discover his potential as well as his limitations. A healthy dose of self-confidence in these formative months can help your child become more independent and capable as he grows older.
7. She Learns How To Make Decisions
With the new-found independence self-transportation offers your little one, she’ll begin to learn that she has control over where she goes. Faced with multiple opportunities and options, she’ll be forced to make decisions. While these decisions may seem miniscule to you as an adult, they’re very important for your little one’s mental development. Some decisions may yield unpleasant consequences, like pulling herself up on a chair and tumbling over. But the consequences of these decisions will create synapses in her brain and help her learn what situations to avoid in the future.
Now that you know why crawling is important, you can encourage your baby to keep trying by giving him tummy time, putting toys just out of his reach and making sure his environment is safe.