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Wednesday, 22 October 2014
 
 
Crawling and Creeping for Healthy Brain Development Print
You don’t have to be a neurologist. Or a pediatrician. Or a neurodevelopmentalist. Or a teacher. But you, a PARENT, hold immense power to improve your child’s neurology!

Over the last several decades, new research has taken a serious look at child brain development. And a subject that repeatedly comes up is movement. Time spent moving on the tummy and on hands-and-knees is of the utmost importance in developing pathways in the lower parts of the brain.
For the purpose of this article, please refer to these definitions:

Crawling: moving on the tummy from one location to another. Think “army crawl” movement across the floor.

Creeping: moving on hands-and-knees from one location to another. Think “up on all fours.”
During the first year of life, the medulla, pons, and midbrain develop at astounding rates. These low-level brain areas are like the foundation of a building. Future growth in upper levels of the brain depends on the strength of the foundation that has already been laid. Weaknesses in lower levels can affect eye movement (leading to issues with reading and eye contact), auditory processing, the sensory system, language, motor skills, mental health, behavior, sleep, learning and so much more! Unfortunately, the results of having a “weak foundation” often remain undetected until a child reaches school age and encounters difficulties. The importance of early floor time cannot be stressed enough.

When you get down on the floor and move with your child, you help stimulate his neurological pathways even while promoting attachment. Crawling and creeping can be fun, bonding times! Consider spending some floor time with your child as you try out one or more of these crawling/creeping incentives. [Activities are designed for various ages. The younger the child, the more “natural” floor time is. Take advantage of that window if your child is still very young!]

  • Use small candies/food items (as appropriate for your child's age): Nerds, goldfish, raisins, mini M&Ms, popsicles/lollypops (to get one lick), special cereal, popcorn—to make this the most effective, don’t have the food item available at any other time. A sippy cup filled with a special drink can also be placed at one end of the room.

  • Put puzzle pieces at one end of the room and the puzzle at the other. If you have a slick floor and are tummy crawling, the puzzle piece can slide ahead of you across the floor.

  • Build a tower with blocks at each end of the room. Add a block each time they get to that end of the room.

  • Throw a ball and go get it together.

  • Put on some fast/jazzy music and creep along to the beat. Sesame Street Silly Songs is quite effective!

  • Provide a bell or other “instrument” to ring at each end of the room

  • Have multiple children crawl and play “follow the leader” or “train”

  • Play “animals.” You say, “Go to sleep” and all children lay down on floor. You say, “Wake up, you’re sheep.” Then kids crawl around the room, making sheep sounds. After a minute or so, say “Go to sleep” and children “fall asleep” on the floor and wake up to another animal that you call out.

  • Bat a balloon around the room.

  • Have the child follow a pull-toy that you drag along.

  • The child can pretend to be an animal and wear a “leash” (be careful they don’t choke—put it around their waist or on a beltloop) and take them for a walk.

  • Have the child scoot under a bed.

  • Follow a toy car.

  • Listen to music or a book on tape. Recite nursery rhymes as you move together.


Many new adoptive parents want to “wear” the child in some sort of wrap/carrier to promote attachment. This close contact remains very important! But it’s possible to do both. Wear the child for much of the day, stopping occasionally to have some special playtime. Get on the floor with your child and interact with him as you move on the floor. Many attachment activities are designed to promote positive interaction during play.

Additional articles on this subject:

Experts Say 'Tummy Time' Key For Tots

Play-2-Grow

In Praise of Crawling (you'll need to scroll down to this article)

Comments
Please give references
Written by Guest on 2008-09-29 06:41:57
Do you have any references to scientific papers to read that support your argument? 
 
thanks, 
Neil 

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