What are gross motor skills?
These are large muscle movements, and whole body movements. In the early months, these are skills like an infant learning to hold their heads up, learning to sit. As babies develop, they learn gross motor skills like standing, crawling, walking, running, jumping and climbing.
How can you help baby to develop gross motor skills?
Newborn to three months:
Give your baby tummy time to help her practice lifting her head, and strengthening her neck, shoulder and arm muscles.
Take a bath with your baby! This will allow her to splash and kick and develop her muscles.
Three to six months:
Pop baby on her tummy and put a rattle or favourite toy in front of her, just out of reach. Help her to stretch out for it.
Help your baby to stand by putting her legs on a flat surface and letting her push herself up. Babies love to push themselves up on their legs, and they’ll start to develop and strengthen their leg muscles.
Allow your baby to bounce up and down while she’s stand up – she’ll have so much fun while developing her gross motor skills.
Six to Nine Months:
Make an obstacle course for your baby to crawl around. Try putting some soft pillows and blankets on the floor to make it more interesting.
Lots of babies like to make their own obstacle courses, through chair legs and under tables. Ensure that these areas are safe and clean for baby.
Babies are starting to develop stronger leg muscles and may even begin to pull themselves up. Try putting toys on the sofa or a low table, so that baby can pull herself up and grasp for them.
Nine to Twelve Months:
Sit baby on the floor and roll a ball to her, encouraging her to roll the ball back to you.
Try getting her to crawl through a tunnel (a big cardboard box is perfect, or a sheet across a couple of chairs).
Practice walking with her while holding both hands, or encourage her to use a steadying toy, like a block walker.
Start baby at swimming lessons, if you haven’t already.
Twelve to Twenty Four Months:
Pushing the pram – choose somewhere flat and safe and allow your baby to push the pram instead of riding in it for while.
Rolling a ball back and forth, and kicking balls are great for developing toddlers’ gross motor skills.
Dance to music with your toddler – stamp your feet, clap your hands, turn around and do the twist!
Discover playgrounds – climbing, swinging, sliding. All these things will help develop muscles, and you’ll get out in the fresh air and have fun.
Play kiss chasey – run after your toddler, then catch and kiss her. Run slowly and let her catch you.
Make a pretend balance beam – tape some masking tape to the floor and encourage your little one to put one foot in front of the other on the ‘beam’.
Two to Three Years:
Go to the playground as often as you can.
Practise throwing a catching a large, soft ball.
Play soccer, and encourage your toddler to kick the ball into a goal (a cardboard box works just fine).
Be kangaroos and jump around together.
Kick a balloon around the room on a rainy day.
Sing and dance along to music.
Blow some bubbles and allow your todder to burst as many as she can.
There are so many great physical activities that you can do with your toddler at this age - it's only limited by your imagination! TV shows like Playschool and The Wiggles have lots of great ideas for activities for little ones if you're looking for new ideas.
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