Because Crawling is Just Too Hard

Hi Readers — When I go around giving my Free-Range Kids lectures, at some point I hold up a pair of little knit things that look like mini sweat bands and I ask the audience, “What are these?” And when I finally inform them, “Baby knee pads,” they shriek in disbelief. (At least, the ones who aren’t shrieking, “My mother-in-law just gave us those!”)

Since when do kids need knee pads to crawl safely? Aren’t babies born with built-in knee pads called “baby fat”? Isn’t that why their knees adorably dimple?

Well, now it turns out that knee pads aren’t the only product cashing in on…er…deeply concerned about the transport difficulties facing our littlest loved ones. This afebbaksih
is charging just $32 for a pair of high-friction baby pants that will help kids crawl.

That’s right: Just $32 for a tiny pair of pants. Because this generation of babies is helpless without us buying them new and expensive products. Thank God for credit cards or our kids would never make it across the floor. (The fact that these pants are sold up to size six is the topic for another discussion, but I am sarcasm-ed out.) — L.

45 Responses to Because Crawling is Just Too Hard

  1. Sara December 24, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    If they were for disabled children I could understand, but apparently they’re not.

  2. kindli December 24, 2010 at 4:29 am #

    I understand reinforced knees, but traction? That would just allow them to go faster, and my little guy was fast enough!

  3. Momof2 December 24, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    Funny – we bought a set of those pads due to our home being in remodeling mode when our son was at the crawling stage to avoid splinters in his knees. And instead of a walker, guess what he learned to walk with??? A small Shop Vac and an upside-down 5-gal. bucket. They worked like a charm! Thanks for the memories. 🙂

  4. Marcy December 24, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    Actually, I have boys who work through the knees of their pants in no time flat no matter what I do….rubberized knees makes a certain amount of sense to me.

  5. lsjonline December 24, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    I would actually think this product has the potential to be dangerous. Crawling is part of the developmental process, if you mess with that, are you messing with the child’s ability to walk? or stand upright? or spatial awareness?

  6. Tammy December 24, 2010 at 4:39 am #

    When my kids wore out the knees of their pants, I saved the $32 and just sewed on patches.

  7. Kate December 24, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    My baby just learned to crawl and initially hated our hardwood floors. But now she has the cutest little calluses on her knees and zooms across the floor without the slightest hesitation. I guess if you’re patient, your body builds its own knee pads.

  8. Jennifer Jo December 24, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    Wait. Wouldn’t that make the babies crawl FASTER? Isn’t that DANGEROUS? And any seasoned mama knows that it’s a major pain in the rear once those babies get good enough at crawling to go fast.

  9. Meredith December 24, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    My son did just fine on the hardwood floors. One of my favorite memories is him starting about 6 feet away from the top of the stairs, and scooting backward all the way to the top step before starting down.

    I also liked the message on the box of our Bumbo baby chair proclaiming it “an essential tool for babies learning to sit.” ‘Cause everyone born before there was Bumbo just never quite got the hang of sitting, right?

  10. Jules December 24, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    I love how they market them towards people with those polished concrete floors that are sooooo slippery. As the owner of a couple pairs of fuzzy socks, I have found out the hard way how slippery hardwood (the original floor!) can be. Yet somehow, my kids have managed to crawl just fine on it.

  11. Teri December 24, 2010 at 5:12 am #

    I honestly don’t remember the crawling stage with mine. I swear she went from contently sitting on a blanket playing to walking. She did do the butt scoot for awhile, but never did really do the hand/knee crawl. Hadn’t really given it much thought until now.

  12. Cyndi December 24, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    Have you seen the helmets to stop new walkers from getting brain damage?

    I know that there are children who have disabilities and epilepsy that would benefit from the knee guards and the helmet but puh-leeze!

  13. Jen M December 24, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Does that mean it is wrong of me to laugh when my twins end up on their bellies because they tried to crawl too fast on the wood floors?

  14. squeak December 24, 2010 at 5:32 am #

    @Jen M. – Absolutely not! I laughed myself silly at the things my kids did. I still do. When my oldest was small, she used to like putting socks on her hands. Linoleum floor + crawling baby + pants + socks-on-hands = endless entertainment for momma!

  15. EricS December 24, 2010 at 5:50 am #

    I hope people do by this ridiculous product. So they can get chastised by family and friends for spending money on garbage. And when their kids grow up, they’ll chastise them for making them look like fools.

    “Why mother? Why?!”


  16. Aileen December 24, 2010 at 6:12 am #

    Those things fall firmly in the same category as the plastic tube meant for checking if something is small enough to be a choking hazard. I mean, really, come on…are you kidding me? As if parents are a)smart enough to know if something isn’t safe for their kid and b) can’t eyeball if it would fit through a toilet paper tube so they c) need a plastic contraption to let them know. Egads…

  17. Kimberly December 24, 2010 at 6:36 am #

    @lsjonline yes interfering with crawling and hot housing a kid to walk early can cause learning problems. I don’t know if these silly pants would alter crawling enough to be a problem. The big deal is if a child doesn’t crawl/walk in opposition left foot right hand move then right food left hand it can be a sign of crossover (child not being left or right handed). People with this condition have trouble crossing the mid line, that causes problems with reading and writing. (For example a child who writes left handed till the middle of the page, switches hands writes with the right hand till the edge, then switches back to left hand start next line).

    I’m dyslexic/dysgraphic. The docs were very interested in the fact I never crawled and didn’t walk in opposition till JH and Physical Therapy.

    Instead of crawling I bear walked. I “stood” on my palms and the balls of my feet with my rear in the air. I moved left arm left foot, right arm right foot, left arm left foot and continue.

    When I moved to walking, I still moved left arm left foot, right arm right foot. I have no sense of left and right. If I’m driving down the road, I think turn towards the Exxon station, not to the left if that make sense.

    In JH I was getting my eyes examined my student doctors. They spotted the oddness in the way I moved, and I ended up in a medical study that included Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.

    Why I bear walked is another question. Did I do it because the problem (called a cross over) already existed? Did I do it because something interfered with me crawling naturally? Now my parents didn’t do walkers or any thing like that. I do have skin condition that might have made crawling difficult. My skin over joints will fissure and bleed during flare ups of the condition. So bear walking might have been a response to pain.

    I have a mixed family history. The women in Mom’s family tend to be ambidextrous with no learning disability. On my Dad’s side 4 of the 5 1st cousins are dyslexic/dysgraphic. My niece has been diagnosed as having dyslexic tendencies (she is in Kinder in the US the standard is they don’t diagnose actual dyslexia/dysgrahia till a child is in 3rd grade because of natural brain development).

    On the good side she is in dance and soccer and shows no signs of the midline problem and it was caught early. They are going to do some extra work with her about visual clues and find out what works for her.

  18. Emily December 24, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    My son is currently tearing across our hardwoods after the cat – the poor cat would be in actual danger if the kid had any traction!

    I can see skin protection (those splinters for the remodel!) but babies don’t have kneecaps so they don’t need pads to protect them.

  19. crystalblue December 24, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    You can crawl a lot faster with no pants on at all. Just like I go barefoot at home because I don’t slip around like I do wearing socks.
    I remember my kids learning to crawl with pants or stockings on — their knees kept slipping!

  20. Ash December 24, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    lsjonline “I would actually think this product has the potential to be dangerous. Crawling is part of the developmental process, if you mess with that, are you messing with the child’s ability to walk? or stand upright? or spatial awareness?”

    It definitely is harmful, exactly as you described

    I dont remember using any protection as a kid, and perhaps thats why I learned riding (scooter, skateboard, bike . . ) so quickly – cause i did not think much of protection besides how to remove it asap

  21. Marty December 24, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    I smell money! My soon to be formed company is coming out with finger-less crawling gloves. we’re also coming out with tailbone pads (because diapers aren’t enough…). New products are on the way- check out our future web-site!

    We appreciate your support!.

  22. jewellya December 24, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    I did notice that for awhile my daughter would not crawl unless she was wearing pants of some kind. she was a late crawler and did so begrudgingly, so we did anything we could to facilitate. $32 bucks? Nah. blue jeans are MORE than sufficient.

  23. Evelyn December 24, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    heya emily, I saw your statement about infants not having kneecaps and looked around online for something about it. They actually do have knee caps, just not bony yet.

  24. Meggles December 24, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Kate, your comment made me smile and brought tears to my eyes. Our now-5-year-old daughter (our other one is 14 months) was a lightning-fast crawler and developed callouses on her knees too. My husband and I were quite proud of our energetic baby, and we still reminisce about those days. I miss those days….

  25. sylvia_rachel December 24, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    I guess it was just a matter of time — we’ve been buying non-skid kids’ socks for years and years, after all. (I am actually a fan of non-skid kids’ socks. Because when you have a kid who never walks if she can run, and you live in a cold climate, and you have hardwood floors in your apartment, non-skid socks are not a bad thing. Also, they cost like $2.) My kid did not have non-skid pants. In fact, she very often didn’t have any pants at all, because she kept taking them off 😛 Hmm, perhaps that’s why she never crawled …

    I keep hearing stories lately about the terrible problems kids have who didn’t crawl as babies. I’m SO glad I didn’t hear any of those stories when DD was a toddler, because I’m sure I would have freaked out. Now that she’s almost eight and a half, obviously developmentally normal and doing just fine in reading, writing, etc., I can approach such stories with scientific interest rather than immediately panicking.

  26. sylvia_rachel December 24, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    @Kimberly — I have the left/right problem, too. I know which is my left hand and which is my right hand, because my wedding ring goes on my left hand and my watch goes on my right wrist, but for some reason that doesn’t translate into a sense of left and right as directions. (I’m not ambidextrous — I can write with my left hand, but not well.) It’s very weird, particularly because I do have a not-bad sense of north/south/east/west. My other odd disability is that I don’t see things in my head and have a very poor visual memory, but I’m a very good mimic, have excellent recall of melodies, conversations, movie dialogue, etc., and can hear a whole orchestra in my head.


    I did crawl as a baby, by the way. DD didn’t — she did this weird butt-scootching thing — but in her case it doesn’t seem to have been a sign of anything unusual …

  27. Kate December 24, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    I’m thinking maybe the dots will wear instead of the fabric wearing out. Knees that last longer would make me happy.

  28. harmil2 December 24, 2010 at 11:38 am #


    I enclosed a youtube showing how some kids in Colombia get to school everyday. It is in Spanish as I could not find the English version that I first saw about a year ago. I share it certainly not to advocate that we adopt such means of transporting children to school, but simply to provide some perspective of how competent and responsible children can be for themselves and others. I don’t speak Spanish but if I recall the English version correctly there has never been a child seriously injured while crossing the revine. And no, I myself would not want to make this crossing, but I do think it is worth thinking about as we consider what our children can handle. Like knee protectors, using pencils, paint brushes, playground equipement, etc., or even occasionally when we are distracted, running with scissors. Now please hold your breath as I did and watch this youtube.

  29. poppy December 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    Thanks for posting, harmil2! That was so cool to see. I’d want to go to school every single day, if that’s how I had to get there. Curious, though–how’d they get back up after school?

  30. sue December 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    I can understand buying some of the products posted above if a child has a physical handicap and needs the extra protection. But normal kids don’t need them. Normal babies and toddlers learned to crawl and walk on their own with their share of falls (and bumps and bruises) since the caveman days.

    Call me cheap, but when my son was a baby, I wouldn’t have spent $32 for a pair of pants that he would have outgrown in two weeks.

  31. dlivtx December 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm #


    That infant helmet is ridiculous. I love this line in the product description: “After confidence has steadily been improved in small amounts when indoors, this unique head cushion can then be reduced to using outdoors and may help by offering extra head protection at play parks or any other, “less than child friendly surroundings”

    So now parks are “less than child friendly.” I feel so sorry for the kid who has to wear a helmet to the playground.

  32. Dettie December 24, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    I LOVE those kneepads!!! Put them in soapy water before putting them on the knees and at the end of the day your floor is clean and shiny again!!!

  33. Fran December 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    I remember running around barefoot everywhere as a kid so I think children’s feet have extra padding in the soles also. Those baby knee pads are just another useless item waiting for first-time parents to get sucked into buying!

  34. Tara December 24, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Babies don’t have knee caps until about the age of two. Hence crawling for them doesn’t hurt like it does for us.

  35. Uly December 25, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    Have you seen the helmets to stop new walkers from getting brain damage?

    Also known as a pudding cap. Overprotectiveness knows no generational bounds!

  36. Nanci December 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    The part about babies not having knee caps and therefor crawling not hurting them makes sense. I have often wondered how my children can whiz through play tunnels without a second thought and when I venture up them (to get to a cool slide) my knees totally hurt! We have an awesome museum where we live that is all climbing and slides and I wear knee pads, not so I can keep up with my kids, they leave me in the dust anyway, but just so I can have some fun too! But, back on topic, those pants are totally crazy. The helmets are even crazier. I worked at a daycare several years ago and one little baby there had an oddly shaped head. He had to wear a serious of helmets over several months to fix it. When the helmets finally came off he was almost 1 and anytime that kid fell over he would scream. By that age all the other kids had gotten used to the pain of falling but he hadn’t, having been protected from it for so long. Eventually he got used to it too and stopped screaming. Okay, I’m off topic again, it’s late, time to go to bed 🙂

  37. benirleciel December 27, 2010 at 2:22 am #

    I guess you all are opposed to socks with traction for hardwood floors as well? Or slippers? I agree that it’s really funny to watch babies flail about and cry because they can’t crawl in their clothes on slippery floors… for about a day.

    Then it’s just sad. I have traction on my slippers (yes, I wear clothes on my feet in winter, I’m not a monkey), and I do not find it at all fun to improve my balance and walking skills by doing it in cotton and fleece socks on hardwood floors.

    I don’t think of these as a safety issue as much as common sense. Don’t try to move with cotton on slippery surfaces–it won’t work, LOL!

    @ the last example, poor kid. I know a lot of cloth diaper babies that, when toilet training as toddlers are suddenly surprised to find that falling on their butts really hurts. Babies with thin super-absorbent disposables learned that lesson long ago, but those layers of cotton, bamboo and fleece seem to protect our little cotton-buns a little too well.

    Furthermore, I think it would be nuts to tell someone not to wear shoes with good soles because “you just replace them when they are falling off”. What a stupid idea.

    Reinforced traction for mobility isn’t coddling. We ALL use it… when we use shoes or even those “barefoot” sock things.

    We don’t have these pants because we don’t have the money, but of all the products on here, having lived in a house with slippery floors, I think it’s the best one.

    I mean really… who wants to patch and re-patch clothes? Who has time for that?

  38. benirleciel December 27, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    And Lenore–the sizes are probably for disabled children.

  39. BJ December 28, 2010 at 1:28 am #

    As for the helmets, my DS wore a helmet for a condition called plagiocephaly (mis-shaped head) from 6 months to 14 months of age. It was not a safety device, but rather to shape his head correctly (baby skulls grow very fast). However, he learned quickly that it didn’t hurt when he banged his head on the table, floor, etc. The day the helmet came off was a really bad day in our house! He hit his head continuously because, unlike our other child, he didn’t learn to NOT hit his head when he fell down. It only took about a week for him to adjust though. Kids can learn from their mistakes at a young age.

  40. benirleciel December 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    “I keep hearing stories lately about the terrible problems kids have who didn’t crawl as babies. ”

    Not all children crawl. So long as they develop mobility and show that they are able to move normally, it’s fine. Both my daughter and I crawled on hands and feet. We are perfectly normal physically–actually she’s quite fast for her age, as was I–and normal in most other ways.

    Though, it’s interesting to hear about the ambidextry in posts above: I’m much more ambidextrous than average, but I always thought of it more as a super-power, because I can read and write backwards as well. I wonder if it’s connected? I have had no problems with it after the second grade, when there was a single note on my report card: “Still switches some letters and numbers around.” I guess it resolved after that.

  41. Kimberly December 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    @benirleciel like any developmental stage it is the all a range and different things factor in. It sounds like you get the good parts without the bad parts. I can read upside down and mirror image.

    In my story above I forgot to include what the docs think was a triggering factor – 3rd grade. (tend to block out the whole year)

    I had an abusive horror for a teacher in 3rd grade. I was very sick for most of 3rd grade. I have asthma and allergies in addition to the skin condition. They are all immune system reacting to the wrong stuff connected and affect each other. I missed a good deal of school.

    She actually gave me detention for “disrupting class” – because I was breathing to loud (asthmatic wheezing). That stress led to certain physical problems becoming more noticeable. For example I would spin the hand pencil sharpener backwards about 1/2 the time. So she assigned the class sociopath to “help me”. So every time I needed a pencil sharpened I got punched in, pinched, my arm twisted while he described how he was going to rape me in graphic detail. (He is a sociopath that went to prison for raping and beating women).

    This woman (I refuse to call her a teacher) also would grab my right hand when I used it for writing, slam my pencil on the table, make fun of me for not knowing which hand I wrote with, encouraged the others to join in and then pinned my hand behind my back and forced me to write left handed. (My parents had told her that ambidextrous like the my Mom, Nanna, and maternal Aunt)

    I ended up with blood poisoning from the constant assult on my immune system. Then my parents discovered the leak from the shower pan. The insurance company said we could stay in the house while the mold was removed (This involved the flooring of the master bed room, the hallway to the bed rooms and good portion of my bedroom and my sister’s bedroom being removed).

    So Dad said fine Sis and he would stay in the house, but he was hospitalizing my Mom and me and since it was because of damage to the house he would have the health insurance people go after our home insurance people. We got to stay in a nice hotel down the road. While my physical health improved, my emotional health was still taking a beating.

    When I ended up in the medical study 4 years later, they requested my education records. When they went through them they found that the idiot had DOCUMENTED what she did. Not the part about my classmate being a budding serial rapist, but the stuff about forcing me to use my left hand, saying that I caused my skin condition by cutting myself (the fissures are straight and look like a cut with a very sharp knife.)

    The medical study people brought this to my parents attention. My little sister was in the 3rd grade and had a horrible teacher. The principal offered to move sis to my old teacher’s class. My Mom exploded and said not even over my dead body. The principal, knowing my parents didn’t raise a fuss unless they had a very good reason sat Mom down and asked why. Mom explained what the medical study people had found in my record. After confirming the notes – principal did not renew either teachers’ contracts the next year. (Texas doesn’t have tenure in K-12 schools).

  42. KCB December 31, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    @harmil2 – the Cronica Pirry version is better, but here’s a story about the ravine in English.

  43. Skyfire January 11, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    My daughter learned to crawl indoors. The first time I put her down outside after this, she was fully dressed but her knees were bare and the ground was rough concrete. She crawled a little on hands and knees, then stopped, pushed up on her feet and crawled on hands and feet! She only bothered crawling for a month before learning to walk.


  1. Making Crawling Easier | Libertarian Book Club - May 14, 2013

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