My last post on learning to crawl was a little brief. There are other ways we help Otis to develop his crawling skills. Our aim isn't to have him crawling or walking earlier than everyone else, our aim is to allow him the opportunity to develop at his own pace.
1. Provide opportunity for movement
Last week I had one really busy day. I went out with friends, drove Caspar to and from school and then went on a lengthly excursion. Otis was either in the pram, Ergo baby carrier or car seat for almost the entire day. While I have discussed my issues with baby carriers here, this type of physical restriction (is that a too harsh way to put it?) is preventing him from learning to crawl. Babies needs lots of time uninhibited on the floor. Really the more time on the floor the better. At home Otis spends most of his awake time on the floor, usually on his movement mat, on the carpet or on a rug. We now avoid rugs or blankets that will bunch up or slide underneath him when he is trying to move.
2. Remove restrictive clothing
Otis moves the futherest and with the greatest ease when he has no clothes on. At the very least we try to give him some time every day without pants and socks. I like to free up his knees and feet so he can grip the ground and get some traction. He needs this grip or traction to get his knees up under his body as a precursor to crawling.
3. Something to look at/to do
While on his tummy he is working all those important back, neck and arm muscles required for crawling. To keep him interested on his tummy I often put him in front of his wall mirror so he can see himself, his ring on a ribbon or even some grasping materials which he will use until he is tired or wants to try moving again.
4. Some to reach for
The most coveted items in our house are Caspar's toy cars. Put one in front of Otis and he will do what ever it takes to get to it. Other items like rattles give him a target. I make sure the item is far away enough to challenge him but not so far to be unachievable. Sometimes we use an item that will move, the interlocking discs or bell or ball cylinder or the puzzle ball are all perfect for this, as the child reaches for them they will gently move further away. This also provides him with a sense of achievement each time he reaches the item. This reward or success is likely to drive him to move further next time.
5. Positive reinforcement
We try (very hard) to hold off on the the clapping and cheering. It can be exciting when we witness our child moving or getting up on their knees. However, to create an environment which supports intrinsic motivation we try to acknowledge him with an "you did it!", "you reached it" or "look at you there up on your knees".
Is anyone else at the pre-crawling, creeping stage? Any tips to share?
The bell cylinder in the above photo is from Beginning Montessori. I have seen similar cylinders in toy stores but I love that this one is hand made, wooden and oh so natural.