If you have attended any baby development classes or toddler development classes, you will most certainly have heard the term: “crossing the midline”. The midline is an invisible line that runs from head to feet, separating our bodies into two sides, namely left and right.
Crossing the midline in babies starts around the age of three months when babies can cross the midline with their eyes as they track an object moving from left to right, or right to left in front of them.
By six months babies start to reach across the body with one hand and at around eight months they naturally start crossing the midline by transferring objects from one hand to the other.
By the age of four years old, children generally cross the midline with ease!
WHY IS CROSSING THE MIDLINE SO IMPORTANT?
Crossing the midline is connected to body awareness, core stability and trunk rotation and also aids in the development of bilateral coordination (both sides of the body effectively working together). This skill is required for many of our daily tasks like climbing stairs, walking, typing on a computer, riding a bicycle, catching a ball, climbing ladders and the list goes on and on.
Bilateral coordination is important for the development of cognitive skills, such as the ability to read, write and learn.
Crossing the midline is also a prerequisite for appropriate lateralisation. Lateralisation is developing a dominant side which influences organizing, fine and gross motor organizing, decision making, writing, reading and language development amongst others.
It is clear that crossing the midline is a very important ability for our young children to practice and achieve, as it will influence their abilities well into adulthood.
How can I help my baby and toddler with midline crossing activities?
- Plenty of tummy time with toys scattered from left to right in front of them.
- Encourage baby to reach out or bang on something that is held at the midline.
- With baby on their back bring the left hand over to cross the midline and touch the right foot and repeat with alternate side.
- Crawling for as much and as long as possible.
For older children and toddlers, you can add:
- Playing on a large surface with toy cars and encouraging them to move from side to side by drawing a line or making a large path for them to follow with one hand.
- Use adult size paint brushes and rollers and let your little ones paint the house with water using one hand at a time.
- Washing cars or windows reaching in all directions with hands.
- Draw a big figure 8 on sidewalk with chalk and let them walk the figure or draw and trace one in front of them making sure that the figure 8 is sideways as this will encourage your child to reach over from left to right or right to left-try tracing with both hands.
HOW DOES BEING ABLE TO CROSS THE MIDLINE HELP A SCHOOL GOING CHILD TO LEARN?
Both the left and the right side of the brain are designed to carry out specific tasks.
The left side of our brain is responsible for recognizing 3D shapes, for intuition, creativity, imagination, subjectivity, synthesizing, emotions, and facial recognition.
The right side is responsible for numbers, maths and science skills, written language, spoken language, objectivity, analytical thinking, logic, and reasoning.
When we cross our midline, we force both sides of the brain to work together which helps develop higher order thinking skills, sensory integration, body awareness and critical thinking skills
At Clamber Club we have a strong focus of including activities that encourage midline crossing from baby classes, toddler classes, parties and all the way through to our sport lessons. We recognize and value how important midline crossing is from a young age.
Owner and franchisee of Clamber Club Toddlers – Durbanville