Crossing the MidlineBaby College

Why is it important?

What is the midline? The midline is an imaginary line that runs horizontally from head to toe through the centre of the body. Crossing the midline is the ability to use a hand or foot to cross over this line and use this hand or foot in the opposite area of the body. Why is it so important?

In order for your child to perform simple everyday tasks and skills such as brushing their teeth, putting their shoe on their opposite foot, buttoning up a coat, or playing with a bat and ball, they will need to be able to cross their midline. Your baby will need to develop some core skills in order to perfect this movement and they an be split into three areas:

  • Body awareness

  • Core strength

  • Bi-lateral movement (using both sides of the body at the same time)

Plus: it is also important that they develop a dominant hand for successful crossing of the midline. If there’s a reluctance to cross the midline it becomes harder for a dominant hand to emerge. Problems caused by not being able to cross the midline

  • Frustration at not being able to do simple tasks (getting dressed, feeding themselves)

  • Academic tasks such as reading and learning to write can be delayed and are very difficult to master

  • Moves whole body (or torso) when looking left or right (when crossing the road, for example)

  • Difficulty mastering physical activities (catching a ball, using a racket)

Games to help your baby and child


  • Lots of tummy time during play

  • Perform Crossover exercise (adult moves left hand to touch right side of the body, right hand to left side)

  • Play games where your baby's head moves from left to right (move a pull-a-long toy slowly in front of your baby while on their tummy)

  • Play games where toys get swapped between hands

  • Use baby massage to promote body awareness and muscle tone


  • Encourage crawling exercises for bi-lateral movement

  • Continue with crossover activity

  • Encourage your toddler to use both hands when playing with crayons etc. and use large pieces of paper to encourage them to move their hands into the opposite side to draw

  • Set toys on either side of them

  • Promote simple clapping games, throwing and catching

Older Toddlers (Juniors)

  • Use tunnels to encourage them to continue to crawl

  • Perform copycat games where left hand touches right side of body and vice versa (Simon Says)

  • Early ball games (toddler tennis etc.)

  • Encourage your child to open pages of books (this crosses the midline)

  • Encourage them to start to put on their own shoes and socks

  • Threading activities to encourage fine motor skills, a degree of bi-lateral movement and hand dominance

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