Our ten month old is pulling himself up to standing and taking a few steps holding on. We're thrilled to see him advancing so well, but we're worried because he has never learned to crawl. A friend told us that if a child doesn't learn to crawl he may have trouble learning to read later on. Is this true? Is there something we should do?
You don't have to worry. There is no relationship between a child not learning to crawl and a child's ability to read or master other skills. Although most babies do crawl in one fashion or another, some, like your son, just go from sitting to standing and then on to walking.
The belief about crawling and its relationship to other skills is a common one. It probably stems from the confusion some people have about relating early developmental behaviors that are associated with other problems to early developmental behaviors that cause other problems. For example, a baby who was late to sit, did not crawl, and had poor muscle tone and fine motor coordination might be demonstrating signs of a neurological problem that could later interfere with learning to read. Difficulty learning to read would not be caused by not being able to crawl, but by the same underlying neurological problem that interfered with all of the baby's motor skills. A baby who is developing normally but simply doesn't crawl is very different.
By the way, although it's great that you are enjoying watching your son's early attempts at learning to walk, you should know that early or late walking is not significant either. Most children begin to walk between nine and seventeen months. As long as a child has good strength and tone in his torso and legs, there's no cause for concern if a child is a late bloomer. In fact, many parents of second children realize that there is a benefit to having a baby learn to walk later rather than earlier--it's less work to keep up with them!