While all children grow at their own speed, reaching certain milestones is a good indicator of whether a baby’s body and brain are progressing at an appropriate pace. When a developmental milestone is not reached, it can indicate a delay in cognitive development or an underlying medical condition.
Try the following exercises to see if your baby is hitting all of her motor-skill milestones.
Gross Motor-Skill Development
Gross motor skills are bigger body movements that use the body’s largest muscles groups (e.g. the legs, arms and torso). Here’s how to help enhance your baby’s gross motor skills:
Lay your baby stomach-down on the floor.
Babies don’t have full control of their heads until they’re roughly 7 months old. When your little one reaches 3 months of age, help her strengthen her neck muscles by placing her belly-down on the floor for a few minutes every day. This will entice her to lift her head.
Dangle toys above your baby.
Lay your baby down and dangle several toys above her at an arm’s length away. The toys will encourage her to reach up and swipe at the toys, helping to develop her arm muscles and hand/eye coordination.
Once your baby is strong enough to stand on her own (or with a little help from you), play some music and dance together. You can try the steps to “I’m a Little Teapot,” or just let loose and do your own thing. Dancing not only helps improve motor skills but the music is also good for the brain!
Fine Motor-Skill Development
Fine motor skills are those that involve your baby’s smaller muscles such as her fingers, hands and wrists. The following activities can help your baby develop fine motor skills:
Hand your baby soft toys.
Around 4 months of age, start handing your baby soft toys like cloth blocks or stuffed animals. Have her practice holding and manipulating the toys for hand and finger strength.
Play with clay.
By 10 months old, your baby should have developed many hand skills. To help her learn how to use each finger individually, purchase some clay and show her how to poke holes in it, one finger at a time.
Fill and empty containers.
Fill an empty container, like a bowl or coffee can, with dry, non-messy objects (e.g. small blocks). Encourage her to fill the container and dump it out repeatedly. This uses her hands, wrists and fingers, and helps her understand the process of filling and emptying.
The Importance of Motor-Skill Development
Developing both fine- and gross-motor skills is important for a baby’s growth. Not only do motor skills allow children to function physically in the world, they’re also a good indicator that your baby is progressing as they should. By doing motor skills exercises, you can help prepare your little for a fun, exciting and healthy life.
Wondering if your child’s gross motor skills are developing normally? Take my free assessment today to find out!