In our first post on creating good mobility we focused on the initial step in the process, going from no mobility to crawling on the tummy. Now we’ll look at the next step, going from crawling to creeping which we define as forward movement on hands and knees.
Creeping is a far more complicated form of mobility than crawling and as such requires a significant increase both brain function and physical ability. It is also critical to the organization of the brain and plays a vital role in both physical and intellectual development. Creeping requires strength, balance, coordination, and a good dose of self-confidence.
Here are five easy steps to get your child to that next stage.
1. We begin with the assumption that your child is already crawling on the tummy. If not, read through our earlier post “Let’s get that baby moving!” so that you know what to do. So the first step towards creeping it to encourage as much crawling as possible. Human functions always serve a purpose and they are useless if they are not actually used. So it is critically important that, once your child has the ability to crawl, he actually uses that ability. The first result will be increased strength because muscles develop when we use them. The more your child crawls, the stronger his trunk, arms and legs will become.
2. Now it is time to give your child the freedom to explore the house. In the beginning we recommend you place your baby on a smooth surface to make crawling easier. But as your child gets stronger that is no longer necessary. Indeed crawling on a carpeted surface, because of the increased resistance, will actually accelerate the development of strength. Eventually that will lead to the ability to push away from the floor, against the force of gravity, and into a creeping position.
3. The next step is to develop good balance. More than likely you already are doing things to develop balance without even knowing it. Every time you rock your child to sleep or bounce your baby to calm him down or relieve a bit of colic, you are sending sensory information to the balance centers in the brain. We call this kind of sensory information, vestibular stimulation. Parents instinctively do these things with their babies. It seems we are wired to stimulate the balance centers of the brain right from the beginning. So now you want to do lots of rocking, bouncing, spinning and rolling. Kids absolutely love this and will more than likely beg you to do more. Just be careful. Until children develop good head control one must take special care with this kind of movement. And even when they have good head control it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution. Have fun but have it carefully!
4. You will start to notice your child pushing up onto hands and knees more and more often. As balance and strength develop your baby will stay in the creeping position for longer periods of time. You will also notice that your little one will start rocking back and forth. This is your child’s way of experimenting with these new abilities and testing the limits of strength and balance. Once your child has enough strength and balance he’s ready to start creeping.
5. By now your child will have sufficient confidence in his ability to stay up on all fours and he will start moving forward. In the beginning he will creep a few steps, then flop down onto his tummy and crawl the rest of the way. As his ability improves, he’ll creep a little farther before dropping down and crawling. Eventually he’ll just creep everywhere he wants to go. Floor surface can have an impact here. Children are much more confident creeping on a carpeted surface because they can’t slip on it. You can help your child’s self-confidence by putting him on a carpeted surface at this point.
Once your child starts creeping you want to make sure that you go through the house and childproof everything. Children can move very quickly when creeping and can get into trouble in the blink of an eye. You don’t want to limit your child’s ability to move so you must ensure that he can move safely.
One last thing… as always, have fun and be a good cheerleader and motivator. That’s all there is to it!