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Your child will never be as busy as he is during his first year of life. Everything is a new experience for him—from the feel of the wind against his skin to the taste and texture of a new toy. And crawling helps him stay busier than ever, exploring his environment by himself and learning to coordinate his own body movements. Still, while crawling can be beneficial to your developing baby, some babies skip this step altogether and move onto walking and other developmental milestones just fine.
Being mobile gives your youngster the opportunity to explore her environment on her own. And crawling has other benefits, too. By moving around on all fours, she's strengthening upper body muscles that don't otherwise get a whole lot of use. Her hands and wrists, elbows and shoulders get a workout like nothing else she's experienced, because they now support a large percentage of her body weight when she's on the move. The crawling motion also helps to stretch out her wrist and hand ligaments, preparing her for other motor-related activities later on, such as holding utensils and coloring with crayons.
Up until now, your baby has likely used both of his hands in a simultaneous movement or used just one hand at a time. Through crawling, he'll learn to use his arms and legs in reciprocal motions, giving him the opportunity to develop bilateral coordination as he moves one hand and then the other, and one leg, then the other. The early movements are a precursor to the bilateral coordination he'll need for walking, as well as dressing and feeding himself and eventually playing sports.
Before your baby was mobile, she waited for you to provide her with stimulation—waiting for you to give her a toy or bring her a book. Now that she's crawling, she can go get it herself, all the while exploring and interacting with her environment. Crawling can enhance her sense of depth perception as she learns to calibrate the distance of an object as she navigates her way around obstacles in the way. This will also help her to become more aware of her surroundings, taking notice of her location relative to her environment and remembering how to navigate back to the same destination next time.
Emotions and Attention
The good and the bad aspects—or less than stellar elements—of your little munchkin's personality likely begin to emerge when he starts to crawl. While every independent adventure across the living room floor causes him to light up with glee, the words "no," "stop" and "don't do that" cause sparks of frustration and anger to fly. You might find him increasingly acting out when his efforts are thwarted. Provide a safe space for him to explore—a place where you can say "yes" far more than "no." Here he can set goals for himself, such as crawling to a new toy, and follow through a series of movements to reach his objective, which teaches him to focus his attention along the way.