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Shuffling Babies: Babies who don't crawl

Japanese Chinese

Here, Dr. Yoichi Sakakihara, Director, Child Research Net, and pediatrician, responds to questions and concerns regarding children's physical well-being and health.


My child is already one year old, but shows no sign of crawling. To move around, she lifts her bottom in a sitting position and drags herself forward. Shouldn't she be practicing how to crawl?

It seems that there are many people who think that it's necessary to crawl before walking, so it is understandable that mothers would worry if their child does not make an attempt to crawl.

As in the case of the inquiry above, some children sit on their bottoms and push themselves forward using their legs, even though they have learned to roll over and sit up without any problem and have reached the age when crawling begins (10 months or so). They are called shufflers or shuffling babies, which refers to the action of moving forward without lifting their bottom from the floor.

Dr. Peter Robson, a British pediatrician, who noticed that some children move by shuffling in a sitting position and then stand up and start walking without having crawled first, conducted research on the development of these "shuffler babies."

The research found that approximately one in forty children were shufflers who did not crawl and who began walking at an average age of 1 year and 9 months, later than children who crawled. Furthermore, when these children were suspended vertically in a standing position, they bent their legs so that they did not touch the floor and adopted a "sitting on air" position. Another common characteristic was a dislike for belly crawling. Their development was followed until they were older and it was found that these children had no problems with motor ability. Robson concluded that they were "normal children" who showed motor development in a different manner from that of the majority of children.

It is still not known why the children shuffle instead of crawl. The commonly held notion that all babies crawl has now been shown to be false.

Reference: Robson P. Shuffling, Hitching, Scooting or Sliding: Some Observations in 30 Otherwise Normal Children. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 1970; 12: 608-17.

Note: The respondent of this Q&A series, Dr. Yoichi Sakakihara is a pediatrician practicing in Japan. Please remember to refer to the medical information or conditions of your own country, as the information or ideas contained in this article may not apply to your country.
Neither CRN nor Dr. Sakakihara shall be liable or responsible to any person or entity for any loss or damage caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly by the information or ideas contained, suggested, or referenced in these responses.

Sakakihara_Yoichi.bmp Yoichi Sakakihara
M.D., Ph.D., Vice President, Ochanomizu University; Director of Child Research Net, President of Japanese Society of Child Science. Specializes in pediatric neurology, developmental neurology, in particular, treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disorders, and neuroscience. Born in 1951. Graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo in 1976 and taught as an instructor in the Department of the Pediatrics before assuming current post.