There is an interesting article from the 2009 July issue of Scientific American Magazine: “Crawling May Be Unnecessary for Normal Child Development“.
As a parent who is pro-baby wearing, I have to admit being somewhat conflicted about “over carrying” my baby since it is commonly accepted that babies need “tummy time” for their development. Failure to offer adequate tummy time is thought to delay a child’s motor skill development. Tummy time offers a baby the opportunity to learn to crawl.
Interestingly, it has recently been argued that crawling might actually be a fairly recent development in the history of “modern” humans. A study on babies of the Au hunter-gatherers of Papua New Guinea revealed that these infants do not go through a crawling phase. Instead, they are carried until they are able to walk on their own. Whenever the babies are placed on the ground (which is usually a rare occasion), they are placed in an upright position and propped up in sitting positions. Au babies don’t go through the normal crawling phase that most babies in developed countries do, instead they tend to sit upright and scoot along on their bottoms to move from one location to another.
Not crawling offers some other benefits as well – it reduces an infant’s exposure to ground pathogens. Historically, the main reasons for reducing an infant’s floor time is largely protective. By keeping infants close to their parents, they are kept safe from predators. Unlike our modern floors which are usually kept clean and free from potentially dangerous objects, infants had to be kept safe from such objects.
Looks like it is okay to carry your baby as much as you like after all. Your baby will learn to walk without floor time and will not be physically or developmentally handicapped for it. That’s great news for me since I recently bought myself the Ergo Carrier for Gareth and I fully intend to maximise my usage of it.