Gross Motor Skills for Infants

Developing Your Babies Gross Motor Skills - Definitive Guide

One of the pleasures of having a baby is watching them grow and develop into little people.  It has to be one of the happiest moments for parents when they see their little one roll over or take their first steps.   However, for your baby to reach these important milestones your baby will first need to develop motor skills.  Specifically, both gross and fine motor skills.  Fine and gross motor skills for infants lay the foundations and abilities for your baby to perform the larger movements like rolling and crawling.  In this article we are going to cover everything you need to know about your baby's motor skills.  We look at what they are and why they are so important to develop. We also walk you through the developmental journey your baby should undertake during their first year.  DISCLAIMER: at the Best Baby Care Tips team, we always like to highlight that these milestones are only guides and should not be treated as gospel.  What we mean by this is that we encourage our community not to fixate on your baby not hitting a particular milestone within a certain time frame.  All babies develop at different rates.  We like to encourage our community to stress less and enjoy the journey. 

What is a Gross Motor Skill?

Gross Motor Skills for Infants

Gross motor skills are the skills that babies use to move about and become mobile. Gross motor skills typically engage a large group of muscles in order to achieve the movement. This can include actions like crawling, rolling over and sitting up. The term ‘gross’ refers to how big these movements need to be before we consider it an independent task.

What is a Fine Motor Skill?

A fine motor skill is one where you have to control small muscle groups with precision. These types of tasks require more focus than gross motor skills as they involve smaller muscle groups which means there will be less room for error.

For babies, there are many fine motor skills they will need to master to use in combination with their gross motor skills. For example, fine skills like grasping onto an object requires the fine movements of their hand and fingers, combined with their eyes for precise hand-eye coordination.

Why is it important that my Baby Develop Motor Skills 

Gross Motor Skills for Infants

Motor skills are important for two main reasons. First, they help your baby explore and learn about the world around them. Second, they will help your baby develop the necessary skills required to be a self-sufficient toddler. Motor skills are skills that are used to control movement of body parts such as the hands, feet, hips, or mouth. By moving these body parts in different ways, your baby’s brain is being trained to be more coordinated and aware of their surroundings. As these motor skills develop, your baby will start playing with toys that require coordination and dexterity.

The development of motor skills can impact a child in many ways.  It is not only restricted to your baby's movements.  Improper development of motor skills can hinder social interactions with other babies, and it can leave your baby prone to accidents and injuries in their day-to-day learning and development. 

Some benefits of developing gross motor skills for infants are:

  • more independence and mobility,
  • balance and posture, and
  • increase cognitive abilities. 

Gross Motor Skills for Infants Developmental Journey

The first year of a child's life is filled with many milestones.  It's a time of much learning and development, all for the purpose of preparing them for the adventures to come.

The first twelve months are critical for development, so to help you understand the skills they need to develop, we have listed below a loose guide for what to look out for.

Gross Motor Skills for Infants - (0 - 6 months)

It would be easy to think that a newborn wouldn't be developing much by way of motor skills due to their lack of movement.  However, just because they are not moving, doesn't mean they are not absorbing everything around them. Even the smallest of movements is your baby trying new things and gaining new skills. 

With that in mind, in no particular order here is a list of gross motor skills for infants aged under the age of 6 months:

  • random movement of limbs
  • steady holding up of their own head
  • lifting of head up from a lying position during tummy time
  • pushing oneself up with arms and supporting body weight
  • sitting independently
  • gentle touching around facial features with hands
  • rolling over independently
  • lifting legs to hands and grabbing feet
  • grasping toys
  • standing with assistance

Gross Motor Skills for Infants - (6 - 12 months)

After the first six months, the motor skills become much more noticeable and pronounced. Things also become much more interactive and, well, to be honest...a lot more fun! 

Here is a list of the skills you can expect to observe between the ages 6 - 12 months of your baby's development:

  • rolling from back to front AND front to back
  • crawling or bum shuffling
  • moving backwards and forwards, and maneuvering around on their stomach
  • being able to sit up from a lying down position without assistance
  • furniture surfing - holding onto furniture and moving about while standing upright
  • walking (with or without assistance)

Things to Watch out for During Developmental Journey

Okay - before we get into this section we have to re-emphasize our point that every baby develops at their own pace.  So only take these warnings with a grain of salt - and as always, if you have any concerns about your baby's development please seek the advice from a medical professional in your local area. 

That being said, here are a few things to watch for during the first year of your baby's development that may raise from flags for you:

  • your baby stops using the skills they have learned
  • baby only uses one side of their body rather than experimenting with both sides
  • your baby's head is flat at the back - this is a sign that your baby has been lying for too long and should have started to roll around
  • your baby's limbs don't feel flexible 

Like we said, if your little one is hitting their milestones at the right time, rather than panic, we suggest helping them along their journey of development.  Do constructive exercises with them and engage them - babies love engagement. 

Activities to Encourage your Baby's Motor Skill Development

We all want the best for our little ones, and we know that you will want to do everything in your power to help them develop.  So with that in mind we have developed a detailed article listing down gross motor activities for infants that will assist them to develop the necessary skills.  We encourage you to check it out.

Key Takeaways from Gross Motor Skills for Infants

Gross motor skills are in integral part of your baby's development.  

Understanding what to look for in your baby along their developmental journey will help you identify if and when you should assist them to learn new skills. 

In this article we have highlight the important of gross motor skills for infants, and when you can expect to observe them demonstrating these skills. 

Let us know how your baby's developmental journey is going in the comments section below. 

Article written by Best Baby Care Tips

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