Do Babies Need to Crawl?
Tummy to play
No matter where experts stand on the crawling issue, one point they all agree on is the importance of tummy time.
In fact, in 2000, many SIDS advocacy organizations added "Tummy to Play" to their "Back to Sleep" slogan due to the growing number of babies with flattened heads and infants who weren't achieving motor milestones as quickly. But it seems that many parents are forgetting the tummy part of that equation. "Moms are so panicked about SIDS that they don't want to risk putting their babies on their stomachs even during the day when they're awake," says Benbow. "When they do, the babies cry because they aren't used to it -- so parents are reluctant to force the issue."
In other words, many babies might not be crawling simply because they don't have the opportunity to do so. With the popularity of activity centers, swings, and jumpers and the hours spent in car seats and strollers, the likelihood that they'll learn to crawl is even slimmer. Sometimes all it takes is giving them supervised tummy time each day so they have a chance to practice. "Put them on the floor and give them time to chase a ball or reach for a favorite toy," says Dr. Brown. "They'll learn how to use their muscles, unless they were predisposed to having a developmental delay to begin with."
Lastly, keep in mind that there's no need to push children to achieve any particular milestone faster -- especially walking. "You can't force children to crawl, but you don't have to speed up the process in their learning to walk either," says Sklamberg, who adds that babies can benefit from any time spent crawling, even a few weeks. "Though there's little scientific proof that crawling is important, there are plenty of experts who believe it is -- so what's the harm in doing tummy time and letting nature take its course?"