|"Baby Crawling Stage Unecessary and Unhygienic Researchers Report"|
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August 25, 2009
Researchers have dispelled the conventional wisdom that babies must learn to crawl before they develop walking skills.
According to David Tracer, anthropologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, scooting is actually the human pre-walking phase.
Tracer studied 113 Au hunter-gatherer mothers and their children in Papua New Guinea. He found that mothers carried their babies in a sling 86 percent of the time and if babies were placed on the ground they would always be propped up in a sitting position, rather than placing them on their stomachs. Au babies never learn to crawl, instead they go through a scooting phase by sitting upright and using their legs to move across the ground on their butts.
Au children do not suffer from any adverse effects as a result of avoiding a crawling phase. Mothers in Mali and Indonesia as well as chimpanzees and gorillas avoid placing their young on the ground. Carrying infants is also much more hygienic. Crawling babies are exposed to many different harmful pathogens, like salmonella, listeria, or E. coli, especially on moist surfaces. Crawling also causes babies to go head-first into things, resulting in head injuries.
Wenda Trevathan, anthropologist at New Mexico State Univerisity, says babies were rarely placed on the ground in the past. The crawling stage has only developed within the last two centuries or so, as humans began living in elevated housing with flooring. Pediatricians and parents now blindly consider crawling an essential part infant development. Trevathan remarks, "It calls into question the tendacy to judge all human infants on the basis of Western infants," highlighting, "how narrowly we view human infant development."
Source: Scientific American