Do Babies Need to Crawl?
Lack of proof
Though many experts will attest to the importance of crawling, others adamantly argue that skipping it is no big deal. "It's a prominent misconception that it's important for kids to include crawling in their development," says Pamela High, M.D., director of developmental-behavioral pediatrics at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, and a professor of pediatrics at Brown Medical School. "Before parents freak out because their child doesn't crawl, we need to have data that kids who don't will have any long-term negative developmental consequence, and there currently is none," she says. "It remains conjecture."
As far as the short term is concerned, studies have shown that crawling does not seem to be predictive of other early developmental milestones, such as standing and walking. One study published in Pediatrics found that while babies who slept on their backs were twice as likely not to crawl as stomach sleepers, all were walking by around their first birthday, regardless of how they slept or if they had crawled.
In fact, crawling isn't listed on the Denver Development Screening Test, a tool used by pediatricians to measure children's development, because the skill is so variable. "As long as your child has some form of locomotion by the time he's nine months old, he's probably fine," explains Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and the author of Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year. "Bypassing one milestone is not usually a cause for concern, but if a baby skips more than one or seems to only engage one side of his body, then it's important to discuss it with your doctor."