Your baby crawling is a huge milestone many parents look forward to as soon as their little one starts to gain any sort of forward (or sometimes backward) mobility.
However, when you see your baby crawl asymmetrically, you may wonder if it is cause for concern.
Though it is not usually something you should be bothered about, if your baby’s asymmetrical crawling concerns you in any way, you can always consult your pediatrician.
This article will discuss the different types of asymmetrical crawling, what it may mean if your child is doing it, and how to fix asymmetrical crawling in your little one.
What is asymmetrical crawling?
Asymmetrical crawling is when babies develop a means of getting around that is either not in the normal knee crawling position or results in wonky or imbalanced movements, atypical of what you see in a normally crawling child.
Most babies start to crawl between around seven and nine months, with an ability to crawl properly by ten or eleven months.
Some babies with higher level motor skills crawl long before this, while other children never crawl and instead move straight from cruising to walking.
Asymmetrical crawling is not incredibly rare, and you can correct asymmetrical crawling with proper intervention and patience for the most part.
The sooner you catch it, the faster you can get to work fixing asymmetrical crawling, and the better your chances of preventing issues like low muscle tone and hip problems.
Types of crawls
When you think of a baby crawling, you most likely picture a little one on all fours, moving the left arm at the same time as the right leg and then the right arm at the same time as the left leg, propelling the baby forward.
This is considered a normal crawling pattern.
While it’s fantastic that many of us have kiddos that learn to crawl correctly, there are many other types of crawls that are a little less than conventional.
Read on for what they are and what they may mean.
1. Bunny hop crawling
Bunny hop crawling is when the baby is properly on their hands and knees, but rather than moving the legs at different times, in conjunction with the opposite arms, they plant their hands and hop forward on both knees.
The issue with this sort of crawling is that it can cause problems with the hip muscles and hip joints, specifically, the overuse of the hip flexor, which makes for a weak hip extensor.
While all of this may sound technical, it really just means that your little one is having trouble going from a sitting position to all fours, and it’s putting a lot of stress on the hips to hop around the way they do.
2. Frog leg crawling
Frog leg crawling is a sort of asymmetrical crawling and it occurs when the legs sprawl out from the sides of the body further than they should, giving the baby’s legs a frog-like appearance.
If you have a child crawling asymmetrically like this, the only real risk to this sort of crawling is that it can result in weakened abdominal muscles and weak hips.
3. Commando crawl
You may consider this type of asymmetrical crawling ordinary, and you’d be right, as long as the baby starts picking their belly up from the floor and eventually supports their own weight.
Commando crawling is often the first type of crawling babies exhibit when they develop body awareness and intentionally start to move.
If the baby graduates from this to typical crawling or crawling correctly, there’s no cause for concern.
Many babies who start with a belly crawl will show future skills of regular crawling sooner than other babies.
4. Butt scooting
Butt scooting isn’t so much a baby crawl as it is an alternative method of getting somewhere by use of that little diapered booty. Many babies crawl this way, wherein the baby moves one leg and then the other to push themselves backward in a sitting position.
The issue with this is that they don’t get down on their hands and knees or develop the body awareness to understand that they will get ahead of them by moving this way.
If baby crawls soon after doing this butt scooting act, then there’s likely nothing to worry about. However, prolonged crawling in this way can lead to asymmetrical hip development.
5. Club crawling
Club crawling as a form of asymmetrical crawling is the one that most often raises red flags for parents.
When this happens, one leg is typically tucked inward, so the other leg does all of the work. The sides of the body are not balanced, and you may notice that baby goes in a circle when they crawl rather than straight or in a determined direction.
6. Hitch crawling
Hitch crawling is when the baby crawls with one leg stuck out to the side.
They propel themselves forward with this leg, which can cause them to crawl asymmetrically.
Because that one foot is doing most of the work, and it’s not being divided by parts of the body equally, it can lead to muscle imbalances and pelvic issues.
7. Bear walking
Bear walking is another form of asymmetrical crawling, which occurs when one foot and one hand move forward instead of one using two knees with the hands.
So, for example, the left arm moves forward, while the right foot moves forward, followed by the right arm and the left foot. The knees stay off the floor, and the baby’s bottom is usually up in the air.
The arms and legs are usually locked. These asymmetrical movements can result in the baby’s muscles not developing correctly, as well as a hip girdle and other skeletal issues.
How to fix asymmetrical crawling
If you want to fix asymmetrical crawling, the first step is identifying the sort of crawl that your child is doing. Also, understanding that children begin learning from other kids and adults will go a long way in correcting the issue.
Is your child merely copying the crawling they see in their playmates? Are you doing a lazy crawl to demonstrate?
Remember that your baby’s crawls don’t involve conscious thought about muscle tone. They see how other people are doing it and then figure out what works to get them somewhere and what doesn’t.
Get on the floor
Floor mobility is a big deal when a baby figures out that they can pull first one knee up and then the other to get up in a position that can propel them forward.
If your little one is focusing more attention on one side of the body, or if the weight shifting is uneven, the best teacher they could ever have is you.
Get down on the floor with them and show them how to crawl correctly.
Crawling is essential to a baby’s development. It will lead to more significant milestones like walking, running, ball skills, and other basic playground skills they will need when they are older.
Get down on the floor, engage with them, and start correcting the issues you see.
Check for injury
If your baby starts to crawl normally and the body moves reciprocally, then suddenly, the baby starts to develop asymmetrically in crawling style or begins to show issues when trying to sit up or get on all fours; check for injury.
A tucked leg can mean a fracture, sprain, or injury that may have easily happened during the split second you turn your back.
Suppose your child seems to be in any pain or cries when you try to gently swoop the leg tucked back into a position that will enable reciprocal movement. In that case, you may need to make an appointment with your pediatrician or visit an emergency room to check for a fracture.
Autism spectrum disorders
An asymmetrical pattern of crawling or movement is a behavior of many autistic children.
However, it is not the only sign, and it does not mean that your child has autism or issues with cognitive development. Proper diagnosis is needed to determine whether your child is, in fact, on the spectrum.
But if you think your child may be showing other signs as well (no eye contact, doesn’t show emotion, doesn’t react or answer to their name), then you should get their crawling and other issues on video and show it to your child’s doctor.
We used to think that children didn’t show any signs of autism until they were much older, but studies now indicate that in some cases, there are signs present at the newborn age.
If your baby engages in asymmetrical crawling, it is likely nothing significant.
However, anything you feel should be checked out is something worth mentioning to your doctor.
Never hesitate to get down on the floor and work with your baby so that they can be given a chance to correct the issue themselves. You are your child’s best teacher.