By Simone CranagePART 1
As clinicians we often see the new walkers that often come with the parental concern that “they look awkward, clumsy or unsteady on their feet and they fall over a lot”
As a baby becomes confident in their crawling they are learning to move around the environment on their own and are developing a sense of independence. They can decide where they go and begin to develop decision and motor planning skills. The muscles are strengthened in preparation for walking and they are using the limbs on either side of the body to develop bilateral co-ordination.
The developmental transition from crawling to walking occurs in typically developing children anywhere from 7-18 months. New walkers persist with the new skill despite frequent falls that often comes with injury potential. On average, 12 month old “experienced” crawlers fell 17 times per hour while 12 month old “novice” walkers fell nearly twice as often, with an average of 32 falls per hour. So what are the benefits of walking and why do babies stick with this new skill that makes them topple?
Compared to crawlers, walking infants cover more space, more quickly, and experience far more visual input due to the additional height. They can access and play with more distant objects rather than what is on the floor in front of them. They also get to interact with their people in a new and exciting ways.. Novice walkers have been found to travel further distances faster, which suggests that increased efficiency without increased costs motivates expert crawlers to transition to walking.
How can we explain what we are seeing and looking for as clinicians when a new walker presents to our clinic? To determine deviation from typically developing gait patterns, we first need to be confident in identification of normal early development and gait patterns.
1.Adolph, K.E. and C.S. Tamis-LeMonda, The Costs and Benefits of Development: The Transition From Crawling to Walking. Child Dev Perspect, 2014. 8(4): p. 187-192.
2.Adolph, K.E., et al., How do you learn to walk? Thousands of steps and dozens of falls per day. Psychol Sci, 2012. 23(11): p. 1387-94.