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Child Physical Development – Gross Motor Skills – What Parents Can do to Help

05/08/2013 | Child Health, Nutrition, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

Physical Development is one of the six areas of learning in the early years of your child’s life.  Physical development covers both moving and handling and health and self care skills.  We’re taking a look at Gross Motor Skills in this blog post (we’ll cover Fine Motor Skills in a separate post).

gross motor skills

In the first weeks, physical development is seen as baby turns his/her head, responding to sounds and sights.  This develops the ability to hold up their own head and pretty soon baby will start to have some initial control over arm and leg movements.

Rolling over is usually the first big movement baby makes unaided, quickly followed by sitting unsupported.  About this time, baby start to gain a bit more control when reaching for toys and manages to get each item into his mouth without too much trouble!

In the first few months, physical development can be encouraged by helping baby become aware of their own bodies with touch and movements.  Clapping baby’s hands and shaking his/her feet is a great way of helping baby discover the extremities.  Play games, offering a small toy or rattle and teaching baby to hand it back (after exploring it thoroughly by mouth of course).  Sing songs and rhymes with simple hand actions, gently moving baby’s hands for him.

Pretty soon your baby will start to become mobile – he may crawl of bottom-shuffle to get around.  At the same time your baby will develop an ability to transfer toys and objects from one hand to another and then hold something in each hand and bash them together – these are all vital stages of development for your baby.

Before too long, baby should start pulling himself up to standing by grabbing onto furniture.  First steps may be taken sideways, holding on to furniture for stability before the tentative few steps completely unaided.  Spills and falls are the norm at the moment, so try to make sure that your living space is free of sharp edges that may hurt baby.

During the first year or so of physical development make sure that you support this with low level toys and equipment so that baby can pull himself up and begin walking.  Push along toys are great at this stage, providing stability and support.  Make sure that toys are within easy reach and plan your living space to allow baby to move around as freely as possible.

Encourage baby to move, roll, rock and he’ll soon be well on the way to having great control of limbs – learning to walk steadily before getting ready to run you off your feet!

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