Crawling: Is crawling a necessary skill?

My 11 month old is not crawling yet. Instead, he scoots along on his bottom. He looks as though he may go straight to walking. While I am pleased that he is making the effort to move independently, I have heard that an inability to crawl can signal possible learning disabilities. Is crawling a necessary skill?

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Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

Many babies start crawling between seven and ten months of age. This may come in the form of the typical forward alternating movements of the arms and legs. Others may be more adept at traveling backwards primarily because their arms are more coordinated than their legs. However, the drive to move about and experience the world is a strong one. Scooting on the bottom, sliding on the knees, moving sideways and rolling about on the floor are all effective ways to venture out.

If you look at most formal developmental milestone and learning scales, you will find that crawling is left off of them. This is due to the wide range of times when babies may learn to crawl. And in fact, there are a good number of them who never learn the typical crawling motion because they got comfortable with some other method of locomotion.

There are a number of myths concerning babies who go right to walking before ever learning to crawl. One popular myth is that these babies will grow up to be wildly adventurous and difficult to handle presumably because they "skipped" the crawling step. Other ones involve problems with learning later in life. On the other hand, another myth states that these children grow up to be more intelligent presumably because they didn't "need" the crawling step. All of these are untrue.

Your baby's curiosity about moving around should be fostered by playing with him. Enticing him to get from one place to another develops body strength and social interaction. If he manages to navigate without crawling, that's okay. The child who does not crawl and is developmentally appropriate is at no greater risk for learning disabilities than the child who crawls.

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