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3 min read

As parents, it's so easy to get caught up in the 'race' to the next milestone.

Baby's sitting up, time to focus on crawling, then walking, then running, then jumping....
But it's important to remember that there's lot of development happening at each milestone and that it's best not to rush them through each step.

Like crawling, for example.

Crawling is wonderful for development because it helps infants:

  1. Develop bilateral coordination - both sides of the body working together
  2. Practice crossing the midline - when the arm or leg crosses the body's midline (middle) to the opposite side of the body

Rather than rushing infants towards pulling up, cruising, or walking, it's best to let development unfold naturally so infants can reap all the developmental benefits of crawling.

An Important Developmental Milestone - Crossing The Midline

Crossing the midline is an important milestone... that you may not have heard of.

Once a child can begin crossing the midline, between 4.5 - 7 months, they can:

  • better interact with their environment
  • manipulate objects (toys) more easily (i.e. play with more toys and develop their fine motor skills)

It's also been proposed that midline crossing behaviours help to develop connections in the brain, specifically the corpus callosum. 1, 2This is the part of the brain that allows the two sides of the brain to communicate, which in turn develops higher order thinking skills, body awareness, and critical thinking.Midline crossing behaviours also help children with so many activities as they get older:

  • dressing
  • writing
  • tying shoes
  • climbing
  • self-care tasks
  • etc

Midline Crossing Activities

Infants:

  • Crawling - roll toys like this Wooden Roller, Push Frog or balls away from the child to encourage them to crawl after them.
  • Reaching for toys - place toys in a spot where your child has to reach to one side to grasp it, rather than placing it directly in front of them.
  • Pat-a-cake - let your child’s hand come to you rather than you moving your hand closer to them, this encourages them to reach and cross the midline.

Toddlers+:

  • Tapping your knees from side to side, to the rhythm of music. While seated, you can play or sing simple rhymes like, "rain, rain go away", putting your hands together and tapping your knee from one side to the other.For example, when you say "rain rain" use both hands to tap the left knee, and then when you say "go away", tap the right knee.
  • Simon Says - Parents aka "Simon" can do movements that cross the midline, i.e. touching toes with opposite hand, touching shoulders with opposite hand, touching the opposite ear, etc.
  • Yoga - many simple yoga poses cross the midline, like eagle, windmills, and various twist positions.
  • Dancing with silks or scarves - adding scarves will help child to cross the midline as they wave them back and forth.
  • Crawl through a tunnel - use couch cushions to make a tunnel for children to crawl through. Even if they can walk, crawling is still beneficial to their gross motor development and it’s fun!
  • Create a mural - Hang paper on the wall or put it on the floor and do a large scale art activity. You could also do it on the walls of the bath. The large movements encourage children to cross the midline.
  • Transfer Activities - tonging, scooping, pouring, all encourage children to move objects from one side of the body to the other.
  • Practical Life activities - Many practical life activities require children to cross the midline, like cleaning the windows, cleaning a table, watering the plants, etc.

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