3 TIPS AS BABY LEARNS THE CRAWLING POSITION
- Proprioception of the 4 points: both hands and both knees.
- Physical experience of the 4-point crawling position with a stool/step while supported.
- Daily practice of crawling position, 2 times a day for 10-15 minutes.
QUESTION from Laura: I have been trying to encourage my 9 month old to crawl by forcing him into a crawling position. In response, he just flops to his belly. He does exhibit the same pelvis lifting behavior as in the video on weight bearing. What relief to know that his body and mind are doing what they need to prepare him for crawling! As he does not belly crawl, either, should I use your techniques to encourage that before crawling on all fours?
ANSWER: Thank you, Laura, for such a wonderful question. I would start encouraging the hands and knees crawling position with some proprioception of the parts of his/her body that will bear the weight. If you firmly squeeze each knee, one at a time, and each palm of the hand (especially the heels of the hands) it will help your baby become more aware of those places of the body. When baby is more aware of them, he may be more quick to use them, i.e., to put them on the floor.
Next, I would guide baby toward the next stage of weight bearing by using a low footstool or a small step inside your house. Place baby on his knees in front of the stool/step with his hands on the top of the stool/step while you support his body with your hand under his torso, just to help him feel that he can be on his hands and knees without so much weight bearing down (when all 4 points of the hands and knees are on a level plane such as the floor, baby is holding up much more weight than he is when the hands are elevated by a stool/step). What I find very important is that when you put baby into this hands-and-knees position you take each of the four points and press it gently but firmly into the floor or onto the stool/step so you are showing him through your touch to put one, two, three, four points down. I keep baby in this position for a minute more or less, sometimes only a few seconds in the beginning.
Gradually, if you practice this twice a day for about ten minutes or so, baby will begin to bear more and more weight on the hands and knees. Sometimes I make funny sounds as I put each of the four points down to keep baby engaged and curious. Soon, you will feel that the weight of baby’s body in your hand (when he is on hands and knees at the stool/step) becomes lighter and lighter because he is learning to support himself!
I would not be concerned with the need to learn belly crawling at this point. Continue to work toward hands and knees crawling and do not be surprised if baby begins to belly crawl soon or sometime in the future. Sometimes even after they learn to walk they regress to a stage they need and spend time in those movements. Please let me know how this works!