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Old 01 May 2008, 08:15 PM
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RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
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Default Walking without Crawling

Another mother told me today that it's very bad for a baby to walk without crawling first. I've searched several times on the internet and through child development books and periodicals for research that addresses this. All I can can find are a paragraph or two in most child development books saying that this is NOT true, and a couple of websites for some new-agey looking therapy involving making developmentally disabled kids crawl for hours every day. I also read a book called No Time for Jell-O by a mother whose son with CP tried a crawling therapy for years with no results. The people who prescribed the therapy claimed to be able to cure Autism, CP, dyslexia, and several other problems with crawling "therapy."

I know anecdote is not the singular of data, but I'm interested in the subject because I had a couple of cousins (siblings) who walked without crawling, and now one is working on a Ph.D in virology, while the other just passed the bar (on the first try). They are both multi-lingual, and one was a high school valedictorian.

The only reliable data I can find are a couple of studies that found correlation with absence of crawling and developmental problems, but no evidence of causation, and certainly nothing to indicate that forced crawling can solve a problem. Left-handedness is correlated to learning disabilities, but there is no causation, and forcing left-handed dyslexics to write right-handed just increases their problems. For one thing, while about ten percent of the population as a whole is left-handed, and about 20% (IIRC) or the learning-disabled population, this still leaves a whopping 80% of the LD population who are right-handed, not to mention a whole lot of left-handed people who have no problems.

So even if absence of crawling is a symptom, sometimes, forced crawling is not a cure, it would seem.

Kind of makes me think of the doctors a couple of hundred years ago who observed that most wounds festered before healing, and decided that by causing a wound to fester, they could make it heal faster, so they used to introduce yeast into the wound (ouch).

Anyway, I still have not found a lot of really good information, and since I teach pre-school, I'd like to be better informed. Does anyone know of any studies on this subject? I know one mother who forced her eleven-month-old daughter to keep crawling when it was clear she wanted to walk, because the girl had just started crawling six weeks earlier, and the mother was concerned that she hadn't crawled "enough." I really wish I could have pointed her to a book or article, so she could in good conscience stop harassing the poor kid.

Does this "walking without crawling = very bad" qualify as a UL?
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  #2  
Old 01 May 2008, 08:20 PM
Dr. Dave Dr. Dave is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post

Does this "walking without crawling = very bad" qualify as a UL?
Yes it does, and also as quackery.

To be a bit more objective, I would not have added that second part; nevertheless, it qualifies as a UL in that regardless of whether or not it turns out to be true, or turns out to be true in specific situation, or turns out to have some kernel of truth, the way it has spread to dogma in certain sectors with no evidence and the way it has sprouted an industry costing parents of children with various disabilities and issues (as you listed) lots of money qualifies it as a UL.

People who believe it (or stand to profit from it) and people who are told repeat it without question, making it a UL.
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Old 01 May 2008, 08:22 PM
kismet kismet is offline
 
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I have no cites, so take this for whatever it's worth. I have been told by a couple of doctors and a doula that, while walking without crawling isn't the end of the world, crawling fosters a kind of body/brain coordination that is very important because of the gross muscle groups it uses and the oppositional arm and leg movements. Walking doesn't foster this kind of development. So it's really beneficial if a kid can spend some time crawling when they can't walk so that they fully experience this development. However, kids who don't crawl will still develop the body/brain coordination.

It's like water is best to get hydrated, but other liquids will work too. Crawling is a very effective way to learn some stuff babies need to know. But babies who don't crawl will still learn that stuff.

ETA: That said, no benefit would be gained by forcing crawling on a kid who can walk. Even kids who learn to walk without crawling figure out how to crawl. They aren't 20 years old and know how to walk but can't crawl! So they obviously got the benefit of that gross motor knowledge.
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Old 01 May 2008, 08:30 PM
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ElectricBarbarella ElectricBarbarella is offline
 
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I've no cites, only my youngest DD to back me up. She never crawled. only rolled everywhere, then went to walking.

Then it was discovered she was not only a toe walker, but had a collasping arch, is extremely flat footed, and a very tight and short achilles tendon. The Podiatrist, the one that has seen her since this was discovered, has told me that her toe walking was because she never developed the leg muscles that are normally devoloped through crawling(that then prepare the baby to walk). As a result, her achilles tendon never stretched and grew to the proper length it should have been for her to walk properly.

Now I am not sure this is exactly what you are referring to, but I can tell you from my own experience, that my DD not crawling at all, seriously affected her current ability to walk. She's had two full blown surgeries on her feet/heel/tendons, which have resulted in 6 weeks worth of casts both times, has had thousands of hours of physical therapy and just now "graduated" to an adult micro-form insert for her shoes.

However, you could also be referring to someone like I was as a baby-- I never crawled either, I went straight to walking and I do not have the problems my DD does. However, in the essence of truthfulness, I was born with club feet on both feet, severely enough to require my own set of casts as a baby(pre-crawling age) and Denny Brown Bars and Buster Brown shoes.

In fact, Denny Brown's son did my DD's first set of night braces.
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Old 01 May 2008, 08:32 PM
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RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
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I know from a friend who is a physical therapist that kids who "bunny-hop," which is to say, crawl by putting both hands out at the same time, then hopping on both knees at once, are exhibiting a problem of left/right coordination. This often happens in kids with CP, but it happens with other problems too. These kids need to be taught left/right crawling, and doing so will remediate them and prevent some future problems, but it has more to do with working with what you have (you can't teach a one-year-old left/right cooridination with guitar lessons, for example), and the fact that you want to start remediation as soon as possible. But that is a specific problem with a specific solution, and the kids are not failing to crawl, so much as crawling improperly.
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Old 01 May 2008, 08:38 PM
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RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
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Quote:
As a result, her achilles tendon never stretched and grew to the proper length it should have been for her to walk properly.

Now I am not sure this is exactly what you are referring to, but I can tell you from my own experience, that my DD not crawling at all, seriously affected her current ability to walk.
It's not exactly what I'm asking about, because most people seem to be under the impression that not crawling affects brain development, not development of muscles specific to the acts of crawling and walking. It's very interesting, though, and indicates the possibility of that "kernel of truth."

Also, just out of curiosity, is it possible that your daughter had tight muscles to begin with, and that is why she didn't crawl? The end result and treatment are the same, but the causation is reversed, and while it may not matter for your daughter's case, it matters for data gathering, knowing which caused the other.
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Old 01 May 2008, 08:47 PM
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ElectricBarbarella ElectricBarbarella is offline
 
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According to both her Ped and Pod, it was a hereditary condition. Her father was very flat footed and then I with my club feet. I understand what you are asking, and no--I've never had any real definitive testing to determine "who's fault it was". The doctors just felt it more likely a hereditarial one considering my and her father's birth conditions.

If you are doing the research, you should know that this child is also extremely double jointed and VERY flexible. I am 5'2 and her father was 6'1. She is already standing at 5'0 tall at only 11 years old (will be 12 in June). She was a normal baby with zero complications at birth. She weighed in at 8.5 lbs (as opposed to 10.2 lbs for me and almost 11lbs for her father). She was 22 inches long and had a HUGE head.

So, developmentally, she was very normal (if a bit above normal according to the tests the Doctors gave her). All milestones were reached at or before the "normal" time EXCEPT for crawling. She never, ever crawled. She literally rolled everywhere.
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Old 01 May 2008, 09:10 PM
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It's been years since I've done any pediatric work, but I do know that it is perfectly normal, if rare, for babies to walk without crawling. In most cases, the children wil revert to crawling at a later date if they want to go somewhere faster than they can walk.

There is some scant evidence that crawling fosters right-left co-ordination (sorry, no cites, I AM old, you know), but that skill can be developed in different ways. As with most child development issues, it depends on the child and is not written in stone.
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Old 01 May 2008, 10:08 PM
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Well I'm told that I never crawled. I was being looked after by my grandmother and I was sat in the living room while she was in the kitchen. I must have wondered what she was up to because apparently I just stood up and walked in, nearly giving her a heart attack in the process.

If I'm subnormal in the brain or muscle department probably depends on who you ask.
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Old 01 May 2008, 11:02 PM
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Another anecdote here...my mother said that I never crawled, either. I apparently fussed until someone would pick me up and take me where I wanted to go and then squirmed to get down, until I decided that this was too inefficient as a mode of travel and simply began walking. Interestingly I was also a "toe-walker" as a child and I have very high insteps and have always needed arch supports.
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  #11  
Old 01 May 2008, 11:02 PM
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I don't know about going straight from just sitting there to walking - but I was one of those children who get around without crawling. I did the scooting thing where you sit and then drag yourself along with your legs.

(I'm told that the adolescents from the children's home my parent's worked at would race me - I always won as they just weren't flexible enough).
I've heard 2 things about that - it goes with being clumsy and it goes with being smart. Children who do that tend to be clumsier because scooting requires coordinating only half your body, crawling requires coordinating arm and leg movement. Children who are more curious and interested in investigating the world may choose this way of getting around because it leaves the hands free. You can scoot and handle things at the same time, but crawling means your hands are supporting you so you can't reach out for things.

I'm both clumsy and insatiably curious so that makes sense to me. Obviously not everyone fits that pattern, and I have no idea what the statistical evidence for that is. (I've also heard hugely varying statistics for the number of "scooters" out there).

Victoria J
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Old 01 May 2008, 11:17 PM
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RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
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One thing I looked up once, and could find no research on, was whether children who are prevented from crawling because of an arm defect, or some such thing (I have a friend who is a congenital amputee of her right arm just below the elbow, and she didn't crawl either) have a high incidence of the problems of cognitive development that seems to be associated with going directly to walking. If one wanted to prove that not crawling actually caused problems, this would probably be a good subject to explore.

Another thing I'm finding is that no one really seems to have a good idea of how many people in the whole population walk without crawling. I mean, people who work with developmental and learning disabled kids report that it is common, and I have seen studies that seem to show a high association, but then, these studies don't seem to agree about just how unusual walking without crawling is. Everyone seems to presume it is uncommon, but no one has studied the subject much. The correlation studies suggest that something like 20% of LD & DD kids were walkers-without-crawling, but if the general population were something like 15%, that first stat isn't so surprising.
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Old 01 May 2008, 11:18 PM
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ElectricBarbarella ElectricBarbarella is offline
 
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I do believe their is correlation to toe-walking and not ever crawling.

Here are a few things I've found:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/toe-walking/AN01253
http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-chi...-toes_12580.bc

Both of these links, mention Cereberal Palsy. Interestingly enough, when my DD was hospitalized the first time for Respiratory Failure(and later found out to be asthmatic), the very first test they ran was for CP. It was negative, but still.

(holy snopes, when I googled Toe walking + not crawling, MINE was the first post to come up..)

The biggest thing is that if one is/was a toe walker and all other tests are normal, it's done just out of habit more than anything else.
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Old 01 May 2008, 11:35 PM
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RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
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Toe-walking does have a high correlation with CP. It also has a high correlation with Autism.

Aside from my cousins' experience, and the general thing about being around young kids, I'm sort of interested in the subject, because the The Institutes for The Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia prescribe crawling for everything from lazy-eye to epilepsy-- also Autism and CP. Their theory appears not to be research-based, but based on the idea that ontogeny capitulates philogeny, and the human brain goes from being fish-like to reptile-like to mammal-like in post-natal development, and an injury before it reaches the mammal stage can cause it to "stick" in that age, but that forcing the body to mimic other phylla-- first belly crawling, like a reptile, then hands-and-knees crawling like mammals, to primate brachiating, and finally bipedalism, can repair the injury.

They have a lot of other ideas, like reading programs for babies, and that giving children higher than natural levels of oxygen can make them geniuses (I guess they missed the bit about retrolental fibroplasia, aka, retinopathy of prematurity, or blindness in premature newborns caused by very high levels of oxygen in incubators). I mean, they seriously think little kids should be huffing oxygen, then studying calculus.

Anyway, their theory that lack of crawling was caused by brain damage somehow transmuted into lack of crawling causes brain damage, although I don't know whether the last bit comes from them, or is the result of people half-remembering articles they read in the paper.

Last edited by RivkahChaya; 01 May 2008 at 11:36 PM. Reason: fixed typo
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Old 02 May 2008, 12:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricBarbarella View Post
I do believe their is correlation to toe-walking and not ever crawling.
Just to add to the fray I am a life-long toe walker and was a scooter but didn't crawl; my oldest son crawled for only about 4 weeks before he started walking and is also a toe walker- has been since then and nothing short of surgery (which we decided against*) will change that. His doctors mentioned the link between toe walking and CP and Autism, but I hadn't heard about the correlation between toe walking and not crawling before. But then I have not really looked into it beyond how it applied to my son (who does look funny at 6'5 walking on his toes).



*There were no other musculoskeletal issues involved and the docs figured he would stop toe walking when he was too tall/heavy for it, but we are still waiting for that to happen.
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Old 02 May 2008, 12:22 AM
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The biggest correlation I've found between the two is that crawling really does prepare the muscles/tendons for walking. It strengthens and makes them more pliable for walking.

If one is a life long toe walker and has no other issues, it's just idiosyncratic--who you are. But honestly, if he's (how old?) now and is still toe walking, it can cause some major damage later in life to both the legs and the back.

That's pretty much the reason why we had the surgeries done so young.
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Old 02 May 2008, 12:26 AM
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Icon97 Another data point

Meg never crawled. She reached most of her developmental milestones way ahead of average and never toe-walked or had coordination issues that were not related to the fact that she's ambidextrous. My father constantly harped on the idea that she would be developmentally delayed if she didn't crawl. I finally had to get a bit snarky with him to get him to drop it. My sister's youngest is 7 months now and it's looking like she will transition directly to walking as well. My dad has my sister in a tizzy worrying that the baby will have problems if she doesn't crawl. No matter how often I point out Meg's situation, she still worries. I hate that ULs like this get to people who normally wouldn't put stock in the ridiculous, but because it's about their kid...

From observing Meg, I would speculate that skipping crawling is related to impatience. She is amazingly impatient and anticipatory. She was vertical as soon as her muscles were able to hold her and she never felt the need to be at ground level again. There's too much to see and do and reach for standing up. It links to her precocious verbal skills. She had to start talking early (8 months) because she had too many questions to wait. As always, YMMV.
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Old 02 May 2008, 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ElectricBarbarella View Post
If one is a life long toe walker and has no other issues, it's just idiosyncratic--who you are. But honestly, if he's (how old?) now and is still toe walking, it can cause some major damage later in life to both the legs and the back.
He is 18, almost 19 now and the verdict so far has been (like his Mom) it is idiopathic. So far no leg or back problems for either of us but it is something we keep an eye on.
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Old 02 May 2008, 04:29 AM
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LilacFields LilacFields is offline
 
 
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When I was in first grade, my parents had me tested for a variety of things because my behavior seemed off in school.

Ok, I was never all that communicative growing up. I remember not liking the school I was in but I don't remember ever telling my parents that (normal for me). I also remember taking to reading pretty quickly. So, because I was a kid, I'd read - to the exclusion of everything else. I remember being told that I had to do the other school work but not really listening to that. That was also a common behavior for me. I was a tad bit headstrong (but quietly so).

Anyway, among other things, I was tested for autism and various learning disabilities. One doctor informed my mother that it was suprising that I could even read, let alone at an advanced level. I wonder if I had decided not to cooperate with that doctor during testing.

Anyway, the final answer that my mom found acceptable (and ran with) was that I had learned to walk without crawling and therefore had skipped developmental steps. So therefore physical therapy was the answer. I remember having to do some odd exercises with some woman.

Somewhere in there, my parents put me in a different school. The start of that school happened to coincide with the end of the therapy. I was much happier in that school and the environment made it difficult for me to ignore the teacher in order to read. So the behavior problems ended. My parents (to this day) think it was the physical therapy.

Bull -- it was getting out of that stupid school I was originally in. Walking without crawling wasn't the issue - sheer hatred of the school was...

LF
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Old 02 May 2008, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by kismet View Post
I have no cites, so take this for whatever it's worth. I have been told by a couple of doctors and a doula that, while walking without crawling isn't the end of the world, crawling fosters a kind of body/brain coordination that is very important because of the gross muscle groups it uses and the oppositional arm and leg movements. Walking doesn't foster this kind of development. So it's really beneficial if a kid can spend some time crawling when they can't walk so that they fully experience this development. However, kids who don't crawl will still develop the body/brain coordination.

It's like water is best to get hydrated, but other liquids will work too. Crawling is a very effective way to learn some stuff babies need to know. But babies who don't crawl will still learn that stuff.

ETA: That said, no benefit would be gained by forcing crawling on a kid who can walk. Even kids who learn to walk without crawling figure out how to crawl. They aren't 20 years old and know how to walk but can't crawl! So they obviously got the benefit of that gross motor knowledge.
This is what my brother, the early intervention physical therapist, told me.
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