Does My Baby Need Knee Pads for Crawling?
by Nicole Campbell, PT, DPT
Does your baby need knee pads for crawling? The short answer – probably not!
While as an adult, it can hurt to crawl on hands and knees due to pressure on the patella (commonly called the ‘kneecap’), a baby’s patella is made of cartilage, which is soft and flexible. This allows for a baby to crawl without pain on their knees.
Some babies do not like the texture of surfaces on their knee, which may explain why they may lift their knees off the ground. However, while a baby’s patella is still soft, it is not painful to crawl on hands and knees. Between the ages of 3 and 6, a child’s patella changes from cartilage to bone (a process called “ossification”). After the patella becomes a bone, there may be discomfort when crawling on hands and knees.
There are many benefits to crawling, both with knees on and off the ground.
- Strengthens a baby’s abdominal muscles so they have a strong core to meet higher level gross motor skills (such as climbing).
- Practices ‘reciprocal motion’ (right, left, right, left, etc.) to prepare them for walking.
- Builds strength in their shoulders and hands, which is needed for school and playing with friends.
- Provides tactile input to their extremities, which helps a baby learn body awareness to decrease their risk for clumsiness.
Whether you choose to purchase knee pads for your baby or not, the important thing is to let them safely explore to develop and meet their milestones. If your baby is having difficulty crawling, please do not hesitate to reach out to Kids Place Pediatric Therapy with questions or concerns.