Gross motor skills are a fundamental part of a baby's development. In fact, did you know a baby will begin learning gross motor skills, such as kicking, while they are still in the womb.
Gross motor skills are the foundational skills that a child requires to build more advanced and complicated skills later in their life. It is this reason that we encourage parents to educate themselves about gross motor skill activities for infants. By helping your baby's development you can ensure they will grow into a independent and rounded individual.
In this article we are going to cover a step-by-step Gross Motor Activity plan for the first year of your baby's life. We will also provide detailed instructions of how to encourage your baby to learn the activities.
However before we get into the activities, for those that are just beginning to learn about motor activities, let's take a quick recap of what exactly they are and the role they play.
Gross Motor Activities is a term used to describe the physical activity that babies perform.
It includes things like crawling, walking and rolling around in their play area. As mentioned earlier, Gross Motor Activities can be performed by your child at any age, but it’s important to remember as your baby develops and gets older, they will use these skills to learn more complicated skills. Therefore, it is important to help your child master the fundamental skills before moving on to more advanced gross motor skills.
We recommend starting off early, so your child has plenty of opportunities to learn new skills. You should also make sure you include some fun games during playtime too. These could involve throwing balls, climbing over obstacles or even playing hide-and-seek!
If you want to know what else you can do to help develop your baby’s gross motor skills then keep reading our guide below:
One of the first main gross motor skills your little one will learn is to roll. Babies can begin to roll anywhere between 3 months to 9 months. Helping your baby to learn to roll is a great way to kick off your baby's gross motor skills journey. It allows them to gain more mobility and independence.
One of the keys to helping your baby to roll is to engage them in the right activities like playing with toys on their side, lots of tummy time for muscle building, and also teaching them about shifting their weight to help them gain some momentum for a roll.
We actually have a comprehensive guide to lending your baby a helping hand to learn how to roll - we recommend checking it out.
The next step towards developing good gross motor abilities is to teach your little one how to crawl.
To start off, find an appropriate place where there isn't much clutter or other hazards. Make sure it's safe before letting your baby try out their arms and legs.
When teaching him/her to crawl, put your hands under their knees and gently position your baby into the crawling position. This allows them to build up their strength and confidence in the crawling position.
Once they have gained this new-found confidence, you will find it is only natural for them to start experimenting with the crawling position and move their legs back and forth. As soon as he/she starts moving independently, stop assisting them to go further. Instead, let them explore on their own.
Here is a great video by Nekole Amber showing the process of teaching your little one how to crawl:
Now that your baby is starting to gain more and more gross motor skills in their tool belt, it's time to introduce them to walking. Walking is one of those major milestones parents love to celebrate, and it is for this reason we recommend keeping your camera phone close by to capture the moment.
Walking can occur anytime after your baby has mastered the previous gross motor skill activities. However, generally speaking it can occur anytime between 8 – 20 months old.
To help and encourage your baby to walk try placing a small toy between two chairs. Your baby should naturally want to pull themselves up onto the chairs to "furniture surf" around the chairs. However, if they are more inclined to crawl, give them a hand in the right direction and help them up to the chair and support themselves by holding onto the chair.
It is at this point that you can begin to encourage your baby to take their first steps. Simply draw their attention to the toy and entice them to move toward the toy with movement in their feet. You can even try shaking the toy to gain their confidence in moving.
Another method for encouraging walking that worked for us is using play toys that your little one can shift along the floor. We didn't intend for it, however our second daughter learned how to walk by pushing a Fisher Price Stand Up Activity Center along the floor.
She just started shifting it to the places she wanted to go, and the fact that it didn't have wheels meant that it moved and supported her at just the right pace. As is the case for everything in parenting - each baby develops in their own unique and wonderful way.
The next obvious gross motor acitivity that an infant will learn is running. This being said, don't be discouraged or worried if your bubs doesn't pick this skill up until their second year.
There isn't much you need to do here, since it is only natural for them to want to go faster once they have mastered their walking motor skill.
The best thing to do is really help them walk properly, so when the time comes to run they have a good technique and can handle the new pace!
Just a heads up - there will be many falls, bumps and bruises! But that is the best way for your little one to learn.
You should keep in mind that babies are born with only 5 senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. That means you can’t expect your baby to learn anything new unless you provide exposure through these five senses. You have to be patient when introducing new skills to your baby so that she/he doesn’t become overwhelmed. If you follow the above tips, I am certain your child will grow into a healthy adult who has mastered many types of physical activity.