Winter babies learn to crawl faster than summer newborns

Haifa researchers say clothing layers, daylight affects skill.

Newborn baby [Illustrative] (photo credit: INIMAGE)
Newborn baby [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
Babies born in the winter begin to crawl earlier than those born during the summer (June to November) months, according to recently published research at the University of Haifa.
This is due to different patterns of motor development.
The research was carried out by Dr. Osnat Atoun-Eini of the physiotherapy department and Dr. Dina Cohen, Moran Samuel and Prof. Anat Sher of the counseling and human development department.
A total of 47 healthy babies with normal development took party in the study and were divided into two groups.
One, with 16 babies born in the summer were tested along with the other group of 31 infants born between December and May.
The babies were watched behind a one-way window at the age of seven months, when the average child starts to crawl.
Parents were asked to register the stages in motor development of their children.
In addition, the Alberta Infant Motor Scale test was used to diagnose motor development in babies, from birth up to 18 months.
The babies were observed for when they lay on their stomachs, backs, sat and stood. Those born in the winter started to crawl at 30 weeks compared to 35 weeks for the summer babies. There was no difference between boys and girls of the same age.
Scores on the AIMS test were higher on winter-born babies; these were better at crawling on their stomachs than summer babies.
But the researchers found no difference between the two groups in lying on their backs, sitting and standing.
The researchers explained that there is a “window of opportunity” for the onset of crawling, and they stressed the effect of the season on starting to crawl.
The beginning of this skill varies, on average, by four weeks between the winter and summer babies; this is 14 percent of the life of a baby aged seven months old and thus significant.
Even though Israeli winters are not extremely cold, the effect was present.
Ecologically, the seasons influence infants’ attempts – the number of clothing layers, their opportunity to be on their stomachs on the floor and activity during hours of daylight, they said.
Parents should be aware of these seasonal effects and give children the opportunity for movement and normal motor development also during the winter season, they concluded.