What Shapes Film?

Elements of the Cinematic Experience and More

Why Do Polar Bear Cubs (and Babies) Crawl Backwards?

This video of an adorable polar bear cub's first steps has gone VIRAL! I noticed that like many human infants' early attempts at locomotion, the cub is crawling backwards! How can we explain this? Why do many young ones among four-limbed species initially crawl backwards before they crawl forwards? Read More

Interesting. I would have


I would have thought that babies crawl backwards sometimes because it is easier and there is less a chance to fall forward and land on ones face. (kinda hurts too)

Shifting your weight forward and balancing on all fours seems more daunting but this limb strenght all goes with the package.

P.S: Scooting babies make me smile....such a cool way to get around.

Good intuitions, makes sense

Hi Ryu,

It's entirely possible that these considerations also play a role- especially as the infant's head is so large and heavy. (1:4 proportion of head to body, vs 1:8 in the adult).

As we know, development is usually shaped by a myriad of different factors and not just one - but for economy of short posts, we often highlight one aspect. My post focuses on the relative strength of upper to lower limbs as an important factor - as illustrated most clearly in the Youtube clips of the two infants propelling themselves backward with their arm movements - but certainly issues of balance, avoiding risk/injury, economy of movement, and many other factors related to the biomechanics of crawling, come into play.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment and interest!

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Siu-Lan Tan, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College and is first author of Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance.


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