This is a question often asked by mothers and other early intervention specialists. The answer to this question is not a straight forward “yes”, “maybe” or “no – don’t worry!”
I prefer to answer this question by equiping readers with more insight into the developmental milestones of young ones and the importance of it for later use in their life:
Let’s look at what exactly the child learns when they are discovering the use of all fours on...well, all fours. They will be going through some heavy excersizes: rotating those hips, weightbearing and weightshifting on their arms and knees...not even to mention that they have to get those tummy muscles working if they really want to get a good grip on moving around all fours. These series of movements are of great importance for midline crossing (also improves the communication routes between the two brain hemispheres), planning, sequencing and the strengthening of neurological pathways in the brain.
Once they can do this series of movements (in the correct order) they will need to use their sensory system together with their muscular systems to coordinate smooth movements of the limbs. These coordinated movements are the building blocks for bilateral integration, i.e. learning to keep one side stable and moving the other side of the body. This skill is later used to climb a ladder, do monkey bars, write neatly, cut on a curved line and doing skipping games with friends. As your young one gets more skilled – you will notice how they go faster, further and the enjoyment of these movements all over their faces. It helps them to discover the world around them, interact with the environment in space and develop important skills such as eye-hand-coordination, balance, controling their postures and focussing on an object while moving.
To top it all – this is the very early stage of preparing the child for good writing skills. It strengthens their shoulder girdle, wrists and the outer arch of their hands. These early movements are in fact a few of the first strengthening excersizes your little one would be doing for later ball- and writing skills.
If you think about all the good things happening in their minds and bodies while crawling...they should be crawling for as long as they love it. If, for some reason your child is not crawling or shows the potential of skipping this stage – I suggest contacting a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist and lastly – if they have skipped crawling: It would certainly be valuable to ensure that they get these exercizes in an age appropriate way before it is too late and they learn other less sufficient, more tiring tricks. Which they do – as they are clever ones!