What is a cross-lateral movement?
If you have been joining in with Clare’s baby massage videos, you may have heard her refer to the term ‘cross lateral movement’. But what does this mean and why is it important for your child’s development?
A cross-lateral movement is any motion that requires coordination from both sides of the body. It is cross-lateral when the movement crosses the midline of the body (from one side of the body to the other). This helps your eyes, ears, arms, legs, hands and feet work together. It is how you increase the connection between both hemispheres of the brain, which is needed to help with physical coordination and thinking activities.
Babies start this side to side movement in the womb and then continue with this movement throughout their early years, laying the foundation for skills they will learn in later life.
A simple example of a cross-lateral movement is when a child crawls. The brain and the body have to work together cross laterally to coordinate the movement.
Cross lateral movements help to develop both sides of the brain which can be very important in developing reading and writing.
Why is cross lateral movement important?
It allows for coordination of the body, spatial awareness, a mind/body connection and most importantly getting both sides of the brain to work together.
It assists with balance and coordination, so that a child is able to roll, crawl, walk, run and climb. It helps them to hold a spoon and find their mouth to feed themselves.
The information we gather stores in the brain, but it is the bridge across the corpus callosum, that brain matter between both hemispheres, that needs to activate that information in a coordinated way. Once you use cross lateral movement, then both hemispheres are activated, cognitive functioning is heightened, and the ease of learning increases.
This means that cross lateral movements are needed to help with reading, writing and learning a second language as both hemispheres of the brain need to work together to connect the meanings and sounds.
Cross lateral movement also helps with concentration and engagement in activities, as well as hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor development. Everything needed to be able to read and write.
Problem solving, thinking skills and memory are also increased.
How can you increase cross-lateral movements?
For young babies, engage in baby massage (please check out Clare’s baby massage videos in our Facebook group), encourage tummy time and songs that involve movement where you can stimulate both sides of the body.
We love Incy Wincy Spider, Round and Round the Garden and This Little Piggy. When you do these rhymes with your little ones, think about how you can make the cross-lateral movement and stimulate the nervous system on both sides of the body.
Take your child swimming, where they can use that physical movement to coordinate their body movements. Swimming allows a child the freedom of movement and both hemispheres of the brain to work together without the stress on the body.
With older children, invite them on to the floor and let them use their imagination to become animals or babies, crawling around and reproducing those cross-lateral movements.
Role play can be a great way to get children moving around, and encouraging physical activities where children use their gross motor skills. Catching or kicking a ball will increase your child’s hand-eye coordination and stimulates the brain’s hemispheres to work together.
Sports where you cross the body with a bat are another great way to encourage cross-lateral movement. Tennis and golf in particular are fantastic.
Please visit our Facebook group for more ideas and to join in our community
Cross lateral movement also helps with concentration and engagement in activities, as well as hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor development.