Crossing midline is the skill of reaching across the middle of the body with an arm or leg to complete a task on the other side of the body. Before kids learn to cross midline, they typically will only use one side of the body at a time. For example, a child plays with a toy on their right side with their right hand/arm and does not incorporate the left arm.

 

Typically, kids begin crossing midline when they start reaching for toys at age 4-6 months. This skill continues to develop throughout childhood and kids tend to master the skill in late elementary school (around age 8 or 9) when they have strong core stability and postural control, as well as good use and coordination of both sides of their body.

 

Crossing midline is important for many tasks kids are expected to do, like getting dressed, writing, and cutting. Being able to cross midline requires both sides of the brain to communicate and is important for overall development because it allows kids to use both sides of the body together (also known as bilateral coordination).

 

If kids have difficulty crossing midline, you may notice them:

– Having delays in crawling

– Switching hands when completing fine motor tasks like writing or cutting

– Rotating or turning their entire body to retrieve objects on the other side of their body instead of reaching across the body to the other side

– Having difficulty with age appropriate self care tasks like dressing or grooming activities

– Skipping or doing jumping jacks in an uncoordinated manner

 

Activities that promote crossing midline for babies and toddlers:

– Banging objects or clapping hands at the midline of the body

– Lots of tummy time with toys scattered in front to encourage reaching

– Reaching for feet when lying on their back (help them reach for their right foot with their left hand and left foot with right hand)

– Putting stickers on one hand and helping them grab them off with the other hand

– Patty cake

 

Activities that promote crossing midline for preschool and school aged kids:

– Putting stickers on one arm or leg and have your child remove them with the opposite hand

– Throwing, catching, and kicking objects

– Pop bubbles

– Drawing figure 8s and infinity signs

– Engage your child in self care activities by placing items on the other side of the body, such as placing a brush on their right side if they prefer to use their left hand

– Dancing

– Helping wash the car

– Simon says

– Exercises like cross marches, bicycle crunches, bird dog yoga pose, windmills, and lunges

 

Crossing midline can be a hard skill for many little ones, but is important for their overall development. If you think your child has difficulty crossing midline, speak with your pediatrician to find out if they would benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation

Crossing Midline: What is it and why is it important?