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I’ve heard that if a baby skips crawling, they may have trouble reading later. Is this true?

Susan Buttross, MD, FAAP


​No, babies don't always follow the same playbook when it comes to developmental milestones. If they master certain skills out of order, or your little one skips a milestone, it isn't necessarily something to be concerned about.

There is no scientific evidence that supports this old theory that was introduced over 60 years ago by physical therapist Glen Doman and educational psychologist Carl Delacato. They proposed that if a baby doesn’t go through the neurodevelopmental stages in order, such as crawling, creeping and then walking, then the child is at higher risk for all sorts of disorders.

Although this idea was disproven years ago through scientific studies, unfortunately this misinformation still circulates. There are some developmental milestones that are more important than others when it comes to chances of future reading and learning differences, but this is not one of them.

What you need to know

The more you know about typical development, the easier it is to recognize how you can support your child’s learning. There are early literacy developmental milestones and ways that families can help children learn language and literacy skills.

Dyslexia or other reading or learning differences can be identified in early school years and some developmental delays may make a child more likely to need extra support to learn to read. Speech-language disorders, for example, are very common in young children. Many resolve without later problems through speech therapy or other interventions. However, some language development issues may later cause difficulties with learning to read and reading comprehension. Learning differences, including dyslexia, may also run in families.

Talk with your pediatrician

Early childhood developmental screenings done at the recommended times (during well-child checkups at 9, 18 and 30 months), or anytime you have a concern. They can help track your child’s progress and identify if further evaluation and extra support is needed.

There are effective interventions and supports for developmental delays, developmental disabilities, and learning differences (like dyslexia). Don’t hesitate to talk with your pediatrician and your child’s teachers if you have any questions about your child’s development, learning, or what can be done to support your child.

More Information

Susan Buttross, MD, FAAP

Susan Buttross, MD, FAAP, a Developmental and Behavioral pediatrician with over 35 years of experience in caring for young children, is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Dr. Buttross is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), former Chief of the Division of Child Development and Behavioral Pediatrics and is presently the Director of the Mississippi Child Health and Development Project in the Center for the Advancement of Youth at UMMC in Jackson, Mississippi.  She also has a weekly radio show on Mississippi Public Radio, “Southern Remedy's Relatively Speaking" that discusses child and family issues. 

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American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2021)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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