Healthy baby growth is what every new parent ever wishes for and seeing your baby crawl is one of the biggest milestones. But when you are talking about developmental milestones, there is no hard script and there are things that go off the popular norms. While babies develop at their unique pace, they often become accustomed to asymmetrical crawling and this may cause a lot of distress to the parents.
The first thing that you need to understand is that it is not a serious issue. But as a concerned parent, you may still find yourself asking how to fix asymmetrical crawling in no time? Take a deep breath! There is no magically quick way but you can definitely try to correct the asymmetrical crawling of your baby.
An asymmetrical crawling pattern is characterized by an asymmetry in hips and legs whereby a baby crawls with only one side, i.e., with one foot and knee. It may appear as a scoot. This affects a child’s motor skills, coordination, and even vision. While it sounds like an abnormality, asymmetrical baby crawling usually occurs temporarily.
We know as a new parent, you must be under a lot of pressure to do things right. But this isn’t a lost cause and not a disability. The seriousness of asymmetrical crawling cases is extremely rare but if you feel very concerned, there is no harm in consulting with a healthcare professional.
However, if you want to know how to deal with your baby’s asymmetrical crawling, you need to understand what is it all about in order to fix asymmetrical crawling.
Characteristics of Asymmetrical Crawling
Some of the main characteristics of asymmetrical crawling are:
- Body’s Inclination Towards One Side
This is one of the main features of asymmetrical crawling. Your baby will be crawling by staying tilted to a side or would be using one leg or knee instead of balancing on two knees. This is also a common occurrence in asymmetrical crawling.
It may be due to simply a preference towards one of the sides of the body or it could be because of a medical reason, in which case proper diagnosis will be required.
Usually, the child may not use one side entirely, or she/he may slide her/his other leg or hand behind the preferred leg or hand. When this happens, either the baby will use one side more, or she/he will abandon her/his other side altogether. If this occurs for a long time, it may have roots in a neurological issue.
- A Pelvic & Spinal Shift
In asymmetrical crawling, the pelvis and spine will shift to the side which is preferred by the baby during crawling. This is why if your baby crawls asymmetrically, you must try to stop it before it hurts the spine of your child, causing long-term posture issues.
- Preference for Using One Side
A child crawling asymmetrically tends to prefer one hand over the other. While this can lead to a later choice of using either left or right hand when he grows up, it should be shunned so that one hand isn’t left entirely idle.
Types of Asymmetrical Crawling
Asymmetrical crawling has multiple types and they are all categorized under this one major category. You must know their features to recognize whether your child is crawling asymmetrically or is just playing with you. So, let’s review some of the types of asymmetrical crawling.
- Bunny Hop Crawling Pattern
This is a hop-like movement and the movements are similar to the hopping movements of a bunny, hence the name. Your baby may combine his legs to keep his knees near his chest. This results in a hopping motion. This position weakens the hip joints and muscles.
Also, it makes the use of one leg over the other hard. It isn’t just that simple; instead, it reflects your child’s fear to stay on all fours.
- Frog Leg Asymmetrical Pattern
You might be wondering why your child’s movements are being compared to animals. Well, they are close to animal-like movements. In frog-leg crawling style, the baby keeps his knees wider than his hips, appearing in a frog-like position. It is harmful as it also makes the ab and hips muscles weak.
- Leg Dragging Crawling Pattern
This is one of the initial stages of crawling. This is not a threat to your baby’s symmetrical crawling and shouldn’t bother you as it is temporary and will go away as the child grows up.
- Bottom Scooting
This is exactly as it sounds. Babies scoot on their back sides, using their hands to move forward and backward. This isn’t healthy and it disturbs the balance of hip muscles and must be discouraged.
It should also be kept in mind that if kids are unwilling to crawl, they will be reluctant to walk as well. So check this thing with your child’s doctor and engage your baby physically.
Why is Normal Crawling So Important?
Normal crawling is crucial to a child’s development and growth as it is the first sign of cognitive development in a child. The way a baby crawls determines his pace of motor skill development and predicts how fast he will complete his/her future developmental milestones.
As a new parent, you should keep an eye on your child’s crawling patterns to bring them to the attention of your childcare consultant. Also, normal crawling helps in the proper muscle development of your baby, as it teaches your baby how to use different parts of his body and how he can exert his strength in the right way.
It also becomes the foundation for walking later on. Though some children, using trolley aids, walk directly without crawling first. Still, for the majority of the children, crawling is a turning point for future development.
Aside from the benefits mentioned above, crawling has other exceptional physical and developmental benefits. For example, crawling doesn’t only make hip muscles strong, but it contributes to shoulder strength. It also helps in the development of abdominal muscles in both genders. Crawling helps in dividing strength between two sides of the body. Not only does it balance strength, but it also makes the child use his locomotive organs properly.
Psychologically speaking, it allows your baby to recognize a certain form of freedom. Doctors acknowledge that when a child is able to move freely and grab freely, he/she grows better than children who are restricted in terms of movement.
Is Asymmetrical Crawling Normal?
Numerous studies regard asymmetrical crawling as reasonably normal on the basis that every child is different and hence has different crawling styles. It is not completely okay for your child to crawl asymmetrically, but you don’t have to feel panicked unless there is a genetic reason.
Your baby will likely switch from an asymmetrical crawling pattern to a more symmetrical one. Pediatricians suggest that changing crawling patterns reflect the motor skills development of your baby. Hence, it is good.
What Causes Asymmetrical Crawling?
Asymmetrical crawling has multiple reasons, ranging from physical, psychological, and lifestyle to family history and even biological issues. According to a general consensus of medical professionals, the following are considered to be the most common causes of asymmetrical crawling.
- Muscle Weakness
At times a child has weak muscles by birth. Now you have to understand that a baby’s muscles are already fragile at birth, and a growing baby needs a lot of nutrition in order to grow and move properly.
Muscle weakness causes weakness in either or both sides of the body. This leads to asymmetrical crawling. Muscle weakness is not just for the weakness of hip muscles but also of back and abs muscles.
- Slow Developmental Pace
Every child has a different growth pace. While some are born with a high intellect, others take time to develop even basic motor skills. This isn’t something to be ashamed of but rather applauded as they will somehow manage to learn all future skills with time.
So, if slow cognitive development is the cause behind asymmetrical crawling, then it is temporary, and very soon your child will grow out of it.
- Vision Impairment
This is not a very common or direct cause but is still acknowledged as such as it occurred in some cases. Poor vision leads a child to tilt to see properly. This tilt due to scooting also changes the symmetry of your baby’s crawling.
- Alignment Issues
Naturally, a baby may have different alignment as the joints, core, or pelvis may not be present at the center of the body. This causes the baby to put weight on either one of the sides of the body due to imbalance. These imbalances may be muscular and may concern an imbalance of weight, or size differences on either side.
- Pain-Avoiding Mechanism
Our body is designed in a way to avoid pain and babies are no different. Some babies resort to asymmetrical patterns to avoid pain caused on one side of their body. It is quite possible that your baby feels uncomfortable using one leg or hand, and tries to shift weight onto the other side, causing the asymmetry.
- Medical Reasons
There are many serious medical reasons that may cause asymmetrical crawling, including autism, genetic aberrations, and neuro-biological issues. Therefore it must be dealt with proper care and advice from qualified medical professionals must be sought.
Should I Worry About Asymmetrical Crawling?
Asymmetrical crawling is a source of concern only if it is accompanied by a neurological disorder or a genetic cause. If a child has a family history of autism, the parents must consult a pediatrician immediately.
In some cases, prolonged asymmetrical crawling can lead to the weakening of body muscles and even scoliosis. Scoliosis is the tilting of the lateral part of the spine. This is an abnormality and is often associated with asymmetrical crawling patterns in childhood. This is a painful condition and can impact a person’s posture.
However, it isn’t so prevalent in the world. Hardly 2-3% of the American population suffers from it. If it bothers you so much, you can always consult your pediatrician and exercise with your child.
Other than that, if a baby crawls differently all the while developing strength at both sides of the body, just be relaxed, and the situation will pass.
Is Asymmetrical Crawling Autism?
Asymmetrical crawling is not autism. Autistic children do have asymmetrical crawling as a symptom of the disorder. However, they exhibit other symptoms too. So if you can’t figure out whether your child is simply crawling asymmetrically or has autism, you may observe typical signs of autism spectrum disorders in your child. However, do understand that in case you suspect anything, a proper diagnosis by a qualified specialist would be required.
- Slow Reflexes
Autistic children have slow or no reflexes. When they encounter a change, they remain composed, or in other words, do not exhibit any kind of emotion. You can check this in your baby by playing peek-a-boo with him/her. If he/she shows excitement, every time you say “boo,” you only have a case of asymmetrical crawling, not autism.
- Minimal Eye Contact
Lack of eye contact is one of the most common symptoms in autistic children. If your baby’s crawls are accompanied by a lack of eye contact, you may reach your doctor for advice because poor vision is also a factor in asymmetrical crawling. However, it is not as severe as it is in autism. So you will definitely be able to distinguish between the two.
- Absence of Gesturing
In the case of Autism, due to slow responses gestures are usually missing. You should check with your child how his/her response time is by showing him/her bright visuals. If your child points at certain colors, there is no cause for concern.
It should also be noted that lack of coordination is also a symptom of asymmetrical crawling. However, as opposed to autism, with asymmetrical crawling, the response rate of the child remains the same.
- Absence of Emotions
In the absence of responses, emotions are also scarce. So if your child shows no facial expressions in different situations, he/she may be facing more than just asymmetrical movements.
5 Steps to Fix Asymmetrical Crawling
As a new parent, you must be freaked out looking at your first baby crawl asymmetrically. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your child shift focus from one leg to the other. It all depends upon your baby’s body awareness. In that regard, the following ways can prove fruitful.
- Patience & Encouragement
Usually, asymmetrical crawling is temporary. Before long, your child will resort to the typical crawling pattern every baby has. All you need to do is wait and encourage them when they crawl for the first time. Babies tend to change quickly and effortlessly early on.
- Strengthening Hips & Core
You need to understand that making your baby’s hips and core strength will help them achieve better alignment. This can be done through different exercises. A common practice of kneeling using support helps to fix asymmetrical crawling. It makes the hip muscles strong enough to shift weight between both legs. Kneeling can be accompanied by pushing when you see improvement in your baby’s crawling.
Kneeling can also be coupled with side sitting. This also helps strengthen hip muscles and enables you to figure out how to fix asymmetrical crawling. It also helps with balancing both sides of the body.
- Body Lifting
Body lifting is a life saver when it comes to fixing asymmetrical crawling. This helps in dividing the body weight as they can not lift themselves using only one side. You can do this by allowing your child to crawl over objects.
Once they force themselves to lift during crawling, they put in the effort to use their lesser-used side of the body more. With time, this becomes effortless.
Your child needs immense physical support in carrying out all those correction exercises. You can help improve your baby’s muscles by facilitating him/her to crawl properly. You can hold your baby’s back and keep him in a kneeling position so that his posture becomes balanced.
You can also use facilitation by capturing the ankle of your baby while he/she crawls. This way, he will exert effort to use both legs and won’t tilt on one. With time you will see the results of your efforts.
- Regular Checkups
Medical reasons can never be ruled out. If with time and exercise, you do not see visible results, you must consult a neuro specialist aside from your pediatrician. With valid advice, you can figure out a better course for your child’s crawling.
Fix your Baby’s Asymmetrical Crawling Today!
You don’t have to tax your mind with questions like how to fix asymmetrical crawling quickly? It is different but shouldn’t bother you as it occurs normally in a number of babies of crawling age. If asymmetrical crawling prolongs after a period of time, you can always get your baby to exercise and engage with your doctor.
This helps in the development of muscles and strengthening of the body, which leads to symmetrical crawling. At times, it also occurs temporarily as the child develops future skills. So don’t fret and allow your child to grow at his own pace. After all, you only want the best for your child.