As parents, we all want to give our children the best possible start in life. One of the most important things we can do to help our infants thrive is to support their gross motor development through gross motor activities for infants. Gross motor skills are the abilities that allow us to control the large muscles in our bodies, such as those in our arms and legs. These skills are essential for infants as they grow and develop, and they lay the foundation for many other areas of development.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at gross motor skills for infants, including the stages of development, common milestones, and factors that can affect development. We will also provide a guide to some fun and easy gross motor activities for infants, as well as tips for supporting gross motor development in general.
Understanding Gross Motor Development in Infants
Gross motor development in infants is a gradual process that occurs in stages. The first stage is called the reflexive stage, which lasts from birth to about 2 months old. During this stage, infants are primarily focused on developing the reflexes that will help them survive, such as the rooting reflex and the startle reflex.
The next stage is the primary control stage, which lasts from 2 to 8 months old. During this stage, infants begin to develop more control over their bodies and begin to reach for and grasp objects. They will also start to roll over, sit up, and even begin to crawl.
The third stage is the secondary control stage, which lasts from 8 to 18 months old. During this stage, infants continue to refine their gross motor skills and become more proficient at crawling and walking. They will also begin to pull themselves up to a standing position and take their first steps.
Common Milestones to Expect
During the first year of life, there are several gross motor milestones that parents can expect their infants to reach. These include:
- Lifting their head and chest during tummy time (around 2-3 months)
- Rolling over (around 4-6 months)
- Sitting up with support (around 6-8 months)
- Crawling (around 8-10 months)
- Pulling themselves up to a standing position (around 9-12 months)
- Taking their first steps (around 12-18 months)
Factors that can Affect Gross Motor Development
While all infants will develop gross motor skills at their own pace, there are certain factors that can affect development. These include:
Prematurity: Infants born prematurely may have a delayed gross motor development.
Health conditions: Certain health conditions, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, can affect gross motor development.
Environmental factors: A lack of opportunities for physical activity or a lack of support for gross motor development can also affect development.
Gross Motor Activities for Infants
As infants grow and develop, it’s important to provide them with a variety of gross motor activities for infants to support their development. Here are some fun and easy activities that parents can incorporate into their daily routine:
Tummy time is an important activity for infants as it helps to strengthen the muscles in their neck, shoulders, and back. Parents can place their infants on their stomachs while they are awake and supervised. Parents can also use toys or other objects to entice their infants to lift their heads and chests during tummy time.
Rolling over is a milestone that typically occurs between 4-6 months old. To encourage rolling over, parents can place their infants on their stomachs and place toys just out of reach. Parents can also gently roll their infants from their back to their stomach to encourage the movement. It is important to always supervise infants during this activity and to make sure that their head and neck are supported at all times.
Sitting up is a milestone that typically occurs between 6-8 months old. To help an infant sit up, parents can place them in a seated position with their back against a wall or a piece of furniture. Parents can also use pillows or other soft items to support their infants and help them maintain their balance.
Crawling is a milestone that typically occurs between 8-10 months old. To encourage crawling, parents can place toys or other objects just out of reach of their infants. Parents can also use a crawling tunnel or other obstacle course to encourage movement.
Cruising and Standing
Cruising and standing are milestones that typically occur between 9-12 months old. To encourage cruising and standing, parents can place toys or other objects at a height that requires the infant to pull up to a standing position. Parents can also use a walker or other supportive device to help their infants take their first steps.
Walking is a milestone that typically occurs between 12-18 months old. To encourage walking, parents can hold the infants hands and help them take their first steps. Parents can also use a push toy or other supportive device to help their infants walk independently.
Other Tips for Supporting Gross Motor Development
In addition to the gross motor activities for infants outlined above, there are several other things that parents can do to support their infants’ gross motor development. These include:
Encouraging movement: Parents can provide their infants with plenty of opportunities to move, such as by playing with them on the floor or taking them for a walk outside.
Creating a safe space for movement: Parents should make sure that their infants have a safe place to move, such as by babyproofing their home and creating a safe play area.
Incorporating music and movement: Parents can use music and movement as a way to encourage gross motor development, such as by dancing or playing games that involve movement.
Playing with sensory toys: Parents can use sensory toys, such as balls or blocks, to help their infants develop their gross motor skills.
Encouraging outdoor play: Parents should encourage their infants to play outdoors, as fresh air and sunshine can be beneficial for gross motor development.
Gross motor development is an essential aspect of an infant’s growth and development. By providing a variety of gross motor activities for infants, we can help them develop the skills they need to thrive. By following the tips outlined in this guide, parents can support their infants’ gross motor development in a fun and easy way. For more information and resources on gross motor development, parents can consult their pediatrician or other healthcare professional.
Yumna is the lead author. She is a mom to two young children and have always been passionate about finding fun and educational activities for them. With her background in early childhood education, she strive to create engaging and age-appropriate activities that promote learning and development in toddlers.