Hesperian Health Guides

Activities for Creeping and Crawling

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 35: Early Stimulation and Development Activities > Activities for Creeping and Crawling

To move about, many babies first begin to creep, and then to crawl, or to scoot on their butt.
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Note: Some babies never crawl but go directly from sitting to standing and walking. Whether or not they crawl often depends on cultural patterns and whether the family encourages it.

If the child can lift her head well when lying on her stomach, encourage her to begin creeping in these ways:

Put a toy or food the child likes just out of reach. At first it may help to support his feet.
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Go get Snoopy!
CAUTION! If the child has cerebral palsy, supporting the feet may cause legs to straighten stiffly. If this happens do not support her feet.
If the child cannot bring her leg forward to creep, help her by lifting the hip.
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If the child has difficulty beginning to creep or crawl:

Let her ‘ride’ your knee. Play ‘horsey’. Slowly move your knee up and down and sideways so that she shifts her weight from side to side. Or put the child over a bucket or log. To help him bear weight with his elbows straight, firmly push down on his shoulders and release. Repeat several times.
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Kofi's waving to you. Can you shake his hand?
Encourage her to lift one hand off the ground and shift her weight to the other. Then help her to move forward.
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If the baby has trouble beginning to crawl, hold him up with a towel like this. As he gains strength, gradually support him less.
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Older brothers and sisters can help.

Encourage the child to first reach—and later crawl— for something he wants.
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Move him from side to side so he shifts weight from one arm and leg to the other.

Note: North American therapists use these terms in the reverse way (creep for crawl and crawl for creep).

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You can hang the child from a roof beam or branch, or a doorway, like this.
A child with spastic legs can hang with her legs supported to allow moving about using her arms.
Or make a simple ‘creeper’.
When the child has learned to crawl fairly well, have him play crawling games. She can crawl up and down a small hill or pile of straw. This will help improve her strength and balance.
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To help an older child with balance problems to prepare for walking, encourage him to crawl sideways and backward. Also, have him hold one leg or arm off the ground and shift his weight back and forth.
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At first, you may need to hold up one limb while you slowly rock him from side to side.
Later, have him practice holding one arm and the opposite leg off the ground at the same time. A ‘rocker board’ is fun and helps balance.
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Let's see how long you can hold it! 1, 2, 3, 4...
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After a child gets her balance on hands and knees, you can help her begin to stand—and walk—on her knees. She can walk sideways along the rope. There are many ways the child can practice standing on her knees and shifting her weight— ways that are fun and include her in family activities.
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CAUTION! Do not do this in a child with spasticity whose knees bend a lot when she stands.
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This page was updated:19 Jan 2018