Crossing Midline

By: Erin Haugen, M/OTRL

What does “cross midline” mean?

Crossing midline is the act of moving our arms or legs across the midline of our body.

Why is it important?

  • Vital to the development of using both sides of the body together
  • Facilitates coordination and communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain
  • Develops hand dominance
  • Promotes fine motor skills and coordination
  • Encourages use of bilateral hands
  • How can I tell if my child is struggling with crossing midline?

  • Coloring with right hand when the marker is presented on their right side and vice-versa
  • Using the left hand to color on the left side of the paper and the right hand to color on the right side of the paper
  • Turning their body instead of reaching across their body
  • Difficulty performing self-care tasks (i.e. difficulty washing body, dressing, etc.)
  • Switching hands while brushing teeth
  • What can I do to help my child?
  • Present items at the child’s midline to begin to establish a dominant hand (i.e. put a marker in the middle of the paper and encourage them to color with whichever hand they initially used to pick up the marker)
  • Play in side lying or prone where one arm is needed to support the body and the other arm has to work on both sides of the body
  • Draw figure eights or rainbows on a large piece of paper
  • Throw, catch, or kick a ball
  • Spread play items out and encourage use of one hand (i.e. have puzzle board on the left side of the body and puzzle pieces on the right side of the body)
  • If challenges persist, seek an occupational therapy screen or evaluation