Over the last two weeks in our blog series, we’ve covered the physical benefits and the cognitive benefits of crawling. In the last part of this topical series, we’re looking at poor crawling patterns and what you can do to encourage proper crawling in your child.
Remember that any mobility is a good sign of your baby, but the goal should be true crawling—on the hands and knees, using criss-cross motions that use opposite side legs and arms to move forward. But if that’s your goal and that’s not where your baby is, what can you do? And what should you be looking for in terms of poor crawling patterns?
Poor Crawling Patterns
When learning about and observing crawling patterns in your child, make sure you recognize that some patterns are stepping stones toward proper crawling. Not all of these are problematic, provided that your child progresses past them in a reasonable amount of time to eventually achieve proper hands and knees crawling patterns.
This is a normal developmental step that involves baby lying flat on her belly and wiggling forward by moving her arms and legs. Typically, she will use same-side limbs to propel herself forward in this crawling pattern.
Since the end goal is balanced, criss-cross crawling, any variety of asymmetrical crawling is going to be a red flag. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong, but it could be a sign of a developmental delay or another possible diagnosis, such as low muscle tone. There are a few different types of asymmetrical crawling patterns, but the most prominent is using one side of the body at a time, such as the left leg and left arm moving at once, rather than using opposite sides simultaneously. Asymmetrical crawling often means a muscle or spinal imbalance, and it can lead to improper spinal curvature (scoliosis) or other muscle imbalances later in life.
Instead of keeping the knees and hands on the ground, children who bear crawl tend to put only their feet and hands on the ground. While this is a relatively common crawling pattern, it should not be the primary way your child moves around. Bear crawling can be a sign of muscle imbalance, hip flexor problems, or sensory issues that make the child avoid putting their knees to the ground.
Crab crawling takes place when a child has both hands, one knee, and one foot on the ground. This is generally a criss-cross style of crawling where opposite side arms and legs are moving at the same time, but the awkward positioning can cause problems in the spine, hips, and pelvis, as well as the muscles in those areas.
Bunny Hop Crawling
Bunny hopping is sometimes a stepping stone to regular crawling, but it can also be a sign of a developmental delay if it persists for too long. It occurs when both legs move at the same time, essentially “hopping” forward. This does not allow babies to use any criss-cross motion, and although not asymmetrical, it’s also not a sign of proper spinal balance and muscle tone.
Kids who never make it to hands and knees crawling often scoot. They usually sit on their bottoms and move their hands and feet in various ways to scoot across the floor. While it allows them to be mobile, scooting develops imbalanced muscles and minimizes muscle strength in the back, neck, shoulder, core, and hips.
If your child is exhibiting any of the crawling patterns above, you should do whatever you can to help them attain the proper crawling pattern on their hands and knees, moving opposite side legs and arms as they move forward. If your child begins to move in any of the improper patterns, redirect him by moving his body in the appropriate crawling motion. It also helps if you or others crawl with your child, encouraging him to mimic your movements.
If you are concerned about your child’s crawling patterns, development, or anything else, it can be beneficial to speak with an experienced pediatric chiropractor. Dr. Grant Lisetor and his team at Greater Life Chiropractic see a large number of children in their practice, and they are passionate about improving the lives of both children and adults all across the Charlotte area. To learn more about how chiropractic can help you and your family live a greater life, and to set up a consultation with Dr. Grant, contact Greater Life Chiropractic today.