“Is it okay if my baby doesn’t crawl?”
It is a common question for your chiropractor to hear when taking care of your precious little one.
A baby that has not begun to crawl may be a sign that the spine and nervous system is not working properly. This is almost always due to birth trauma, which often goes undetected. It doesn’t take forceps or a vacuum to strain your baby’s little body—even a vaginal birth with no intervention causes major forces to be applied to infant’s spine. In fact, when a researcher checked newborns within an hour of birth, 80% of them had a misalignment in their neck. When this is left untreated it causes an imbalance in the nervous system where the brain cannot get its messages to the baby’s entire body, telling it how to develop and function.
Crawling is a quite complex combination of movements when you break it down. Babies have to facilitate movement of their arms, legs, head, core, etc. It is truly a full body movement and takes a lot of coordination from the brain to make it happen. If the nervous system is imbalanced, coordinating all of those movements together becomes impossible. So you have a baby that scoots, army crawls, or goes straight to walking instead of crawling.
Crawling is not merely a mode of transportation, it is actually a critical point in development for two reasons: to further develop their brain and to establish normal curvatures in the spine.
A baby is born with one curve in their spine (C-curve). This curve is normal for the middle of the back, but not for the neck or lower back. A baby begins to establish a normal curve in the neck during tummy time by picking their head up to look around. That continues into crawling when they hold their head up to see where they are going. Then gravity pushes down on their lower back as their belly hangs down, establishing their lower back curvature. These curvatures are critical for a properly working spine and nervous system, and to set them up for lifelong health.
Most importantly, crawling helps the brain to develop. The cerebellum is a portion of the brain that is important for coordination of speech, thought, and movement. Every time we do complex movements we are stimulating that portion of the brain causing it to grow and develop. Your baby’s brain is developing at a faster rate than any other time in their life, so the impact is large.
Crawling is critical to the rapid development that sets your child up for success in the future. Talk to your pediatric chiropractor if you have any concerns, and as always, contact us with any questions.