The annual crawl-a-thon in Lakeville, Minnesota, was the site of scandal last week when 10-month-old Berkley Bailey was disqualified for using an unapproved crawling technique. Although Bailey won her heat, judge Diana Neameyer said Bailey's way of crawling by scooting was in violation of the official rules, which require race participants to crawl on their hands and knees. Bailey's mom complained that the ruling was unfair, since this is the only way her child has ever crawled.
If you're starting to think this whole thing is ridiculous, then take a knee, because we're just getting started. This isn't the first time the crawl-a-thon has faced a rule challenge. Last year a baby who did a bear crawl on his feet and hands was also disqualified for being too fast. But Neameyer has upheld challenges against babies who army crawl, as she claims they are technically using their hands and knees. Neameyer should really consider a career in the NFL. No doubt she'd have cleared up the whole "deflategate" debacle in a snap.
No word on whether there were any complaints over breastfed babies being given an advantage over formula fed ones or if a cloth diaper gave an unfair aerodynamic advantage, but fingers crossed for next year.
While it might seem silly that parents are getting so fired up over what is clearly meant to be a fun event, there's more at stake here than bragging rights. If you place yourself in the position of a parent whose child has been taken out of the competition, it's not the disqualification that's upsetting. It's the implication that something is wrong with your child because they aren't crawling like other children.
There's a wide range of ways babies get from point A to point B before learning to walk, so limiting this race to only babies who crawl using their hands and knees does seem a bit unfair, especially if the event is supposed to be all in good fun.
Pediatricians recognize several different ways of crawling. Each is considered to be a perfectly normal and healthy stage of mobility. There are more ways to crawl beyond the stereotypical hands-and-knees method, the well-known bear crawl and the army crawl. Some babies move like a crab, using their hands to go forward and to the side. Others crawl without using their hands much at all, but rather scoot themselves across the floor using their bottoms like a Roomba. There are even those babies who roll around the floor to get where they want to go. While they might look more like Sonic the Hedgehog than a baby, it still counts as crawling.
So even if your baby's preferred mode of personal transportation won't earn her a space in the winner's circle and a gold-plated pacifier, try not to stress. It's completely normal and nothing to be concerned over. Even if their crawling won't win them any races, they'll always be your No. 1 anyway.
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