From head to toe, babies learn and develop. Muscle control in the upper body develops before muscle control in the lower body. Babies first learn to regulate their neck (head control) and trunk (sitting balance) as they grow older.
This development is followed then with their shoulders, elbows, wrists, and eventually their fingers. The same is true for the lower body, which begins with the hips and progresses to the legs, foot, and finally toes.
What can you read in this article?
- Gross motor skills activities
- Gross motor skills development: A timeline
- Importance of gross motor skills development
- Activities for Gross motor skills development
Gross motor skills
Gross motor skills, also known as large motor skills, are the movements and coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts and movements, and gross motor skills are the abilities needed to control the muscles for large movements like crawling, walking, jumping, sprinting, and more.
Children gain strength when they develop control of their bodies. Because movement is how children learn and grow, they require plenty of opportunities to practice it. Babies need lots of activities and opportunities to practice motor skills. This is how they will learn and grow even more.
Gross motor skills activities
Running, crawling, swimming, and hopping are examples of gross motor skills. These types of motions are vital for small kids to do as they grow because they help them learn to control and coordinate their body movements. Gross motor skills development is also important in laying the groundwork for fine motor skills like pinching and gripping.
Gross motor skills include the following:
- lifting (anything counts: a spoon, a hairbrush, a barbell)
Then there are the skills that require a little more expertise:
- riding a horse or a bicycle
- participating in sports such as football or baseball
- blading with roller blades
When your child exercises his or her gross motor abilities, they are also practicing balance, coordination, and hand-eye coordination. and strengthening the neural pathways in their brain.
Image from Shutterstock
Gross motor movements are categorized into 3 ways:
- Locomotor activity — movement from one spot to another. Anything a child does to get from one spot to another is locomotion.
Examples: rolling, belly crawling, crawling on hands and knees, scooting, walking, running, climbing, leaping, jumping, hopping, galloping, sliding, and skipping.
- Non-locomotor activity — movement in a stationary place.
Examples: head control, sitting balance, standing on one or both legs, pushing, pulling, bending, stretching, twisting, turning, swinging, swaying, rising, and falling.
- Manipulative skills — moving objects in a variety of ways. Examples: throwing, kicking, striking, and catching.
Gross motor skills development: A timeline
For each milestone, we often see a range of development, with children developing that ability a few months earlier or later. Gross motor development milestones for newborns and toddlers are as follows:
Newborn to 2 months
- Head lag with pull to sit
- While lying on the stomach, lifts the head and can turn to both sides.
- And while on the back, kicks both legs and moves both arms evenly.
- While lying on his back, he turns his head to both sides.
- When supported, holds head high for a brief duration.
- Arm thrusts in play
- When pulled to sit, raises head in line with the trunk.
- While on the belly, pushes up on forearms and twists head side to side.
- Rolls from the stomach to the back of the neck
- Lying on the back brings feet to the mouth
- Rolls from the back to the stomach
- While on the belly, pushes up on their hands with their arms extended.
- Pivots in a circle on the belly
- Lifts your head and chest (props on forearm) when on stomach
- Improved head control
- In supported sitting, some head bobbing
- Sits for a few moments with an armrest.
- Batting at random objects
- Moves about in a crawling motion
- Recognizes a lack of balance while sitting.
- Crawls on stomach
- In a sitting position, reaches for toys to play with.
- Sits on his own.
- Reaches to objects on stomach
- Pivots around when on stomach
- Pulls self forward on stomach
- Rolls from back to stomach
- Changes positions from sitting to stomach lying.
- Stands with support
- Crawls around on his hands and knees
- Moves freely around the furniture
- Moves from laying down to sitting up without assistance.
- Pulls to a standing position with one foot in front of the other.
- Walks with two hands in front of him.
- Rotates the trunk while sitting alone.
- Sitting pivots and scoots
- Stands alone for a brief period
- Goes for a walk with only one handheld
- Stands for a few seconds on its own.
- Assumes a high kneeling position
- Takes a knee-to-knee walk
- Can walk without assistance.
- Able to stand on their own.
- Crawls up the stairwell
- Walking ability to start, stop, and turn without falling
- Crawls onto chairs or other pieces of furniture.
- Uses a handrail or railing to take one step at a time.
- Downstairs creeps
- People who walk in a heel-toe pattern are less likely to fall.
- Walks backward and sideways
- Run in a structural way
- With assistance, stands on one foot.
- After a demonstration, kicks a huge ball forward.
- Takes care of the riding toys
- Good coordination and balance
Because each child develops at his or her own rate, these milestones are only estimates. Gross motor development occurs at these approximate ages and stages, and they build on each other. Before a newborn can walk, for example, they must be able to pull themselves up to standing.
Importance of gross motor skills development
Young children require time to practice their gross motor abilities in actual conditions. The opportunity to run in wide areas, practice hopping on one foot, crawling, or leaping aids in the development of children’s body control and coordination.
These types of motions are vital for small kids to do as they grow because they help them learn to control and coordinate their body movements. Furthermore, gross motor skills development is also important in laying the groundwork for fine motor skills.
Gross motor skill development aids in the development of body strength and confidence in children. Kids, like adults, benefit from exercise and physical activity, which is necessary for a healthy lifestyle regardless of age.
Plus, gross motor skills development improves a child’s capacity to perform more complicated tasks, such as navigating a new playground setting or participating in a team sport.
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Activities for Gross motor skills development
Infants should ideally be engaged in such activities for a few hours each day, according to WHO standards, to improve motor skills. These activities will help your child to develop hand-eye coordination and learn to control and coordinate their body movement.
Practice your head position.
When laying your baby down, alternate the side on which their head is placed. One day you’ll be on the left, and the next you’ll be on the right. This will help your infant lift his or her head and strengthen both sides of his or her neck.
Getting your infant to sit up
Encourage your child to develop the motor skills needed to sit independently by propping them up. Offer a helping hand while they’re learning to keep them stable.
Pushing and pulling
For babies, pushing and tugging toys is an important gross motor skill. Pulling toys for infants are available, but you may easily attach strings to toys and have your child pull them.
Tummy time helps your baby’s neck and back muscles grow stronger. Shake a colorful toy in front of your infant to keep them interested.
It’s never too early to begin working on your biceps. Place a rattle in your baby’s hand and gently pull on it.
Playing with the ball
Balls can be rolled, thrown, caught, tossed, kicked, and bounced.
Image from Shutterstock
Make a line with tape
Children should practice walking and balancing on a line drawn with tape on the floor or ground To practice hopping, have the kids hop from side to side over the line. You can also create a balance beam out of different materials, such as a piece of wood or a long branch.
Playing with balloons.
Toss balloons into the air and try to catch them, keep them from colliding with the ground, or volley them back and forth.
Set up hula hoops (or yarn circles), chairs, little tables, balls, and buckets for kids to climb over, under, run around, and move stuff from one location to the next.
Play with bubbles.
Blow bubbles, chase them down and then pop them. Instead of blowing bubbles, have kids use the bubble wand and spin around or run rapidly to create them.
Simon Says or Mother May I.
Play Simon Says or Mother May I, concentrating on movements like hopping on one foot, jumping up and down, tapping your toes, swinging your arms, giant steps, whirling steps, crab walking, and so on.
Play a variety of music, both fast and slow, and throw a dance party. Make a movement and have the kids copy it, then have them make a movement and have them copy it.
Image from Shutterstock
Allow your child to crawl through, over, and under empty boxes of various sizes. To move the boxes around, have the kids push and pull them.
Toss and throw
Toss stuff into containers, taped-off areas on the floor, or chalk-painted areas on the driveway using bean bags, socks packed with beans, or soft toys.
Once you’ve babyproofed and provided a safe environment for baby, encourage them to move on their own. Try spreading favorite toys over a room and watching them scramble for their prize.
Children will learn how to control and coordinate their body motions by practicing gross motor skills. Active play is the most effective strategy to help your child towards gross motor skills development. Allow plenty of time, space, and chances for children to exercise their muscles.
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