Learning to crawl

Child Dev. 1998 Oct;69(5):1299-312.


The effects of infants' age, body dimensions, and experience on the development of crawling was examined by observing 28 infants longitudinally, from children's first attempts at crawling until they began walking. Although most infants displayed multiple crawling postures en route to walking, development did not adhere to a strict progression of obligatory, discrete stages. In particular, 15 infants crawled on their bellies prior to crawling on hands and knees, but the other 13 infants skipped the belly-crawling period and proceeded directly to crawling on hands and knees. Duration of experience with earlier forms of crawling predicted the speed and efficiency of later, quite different forms of crawling. Most important, infants who had formerly belly crawled were more proficient crawling on hands and knees than infants who had skipped the belly-crawling period. Transfer could not be explained by differences in infants' age or body dimensions alone. Rather, experience using earlier crawling patterns may have exerted beneficial effects on hands-and-knees crawling by shoring up underlying constituents common to all forms of crawling postures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry
  • Child Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*