It’s always a thing of great excitement and joy when your little one first begins to hold things in their hand, sit upright on their own, roll over and crawl, and eventually start walking. These little milestones, besides being great reasons for celebration, are also inherently important to your baby’s overall development. These milestones are motor control processes that are vital for your baby’s holistic growth. Every movement they make is a step further in terms of development.
Motor control also progresses from the center of the body outwards, which means that your baby will be able to control their torso before they can use their fingers and toes. The following are some ways to enhance your baby's motor skills development, focusing on each part of the body:
To help develop head control:
- Place your baby stomach-down on the floor. Do this several times a day and let them adjust to this position.
- Entice your baby to lift their head. Put an unbreakable mirror or large picture in front of them, or get down on the floor face-to-face with them.
Reaching and grasping
Try these four suggestions to encourage the development of your baby's hand-eye coordination:
- Install a crib gym. This allows them to bat at the objects overhead. (To be safe, remove it from the crib as soon as they can sit up.)
- While your baby is lying on its back, dangle eye-catching objects above its head. Shake them three to eight inches above, so that the baby can get an opportunity to swipe at them.
- To help your 4-month-old baby practice grasping objects, hand them rattles or other safe items to hold. Things that make noise when they shake them, or have a nice texture to gum on, may encourage them to keep their grip.
- Place several toys within reach. Let them grasp for things as they lie on their stomach on the floor.
You can encourage rolling with these simple ways:
- Provide your baby with plenty of space and opportunity to practice. The floor is always great for this.
- Praise your baby. Talk to them and encourage them as she practices rolling.
- Hold an object of interest, such as a rattle or a baby mirror, next to them. This can catch their attention and entice them to turn their body to see it.
To help baby practice sitting skills:
- Place them in your lap, facing outward, while you sit cross-legged on the floor. Your stomach and legs will provide the necessary support for their back.
- Prop baby on a standard pillow or a U-shaped pillow. Let them experience the sensation of sitting under your supervision.
Crawling and walking
Most babies will follow a recognizable pattern of learning the movements. Once they do, try encouraging your baby to learn locomotion with these simple games:
- Play crawling tag. This can be great fun for babies who are learning to move about. Crawl after your baby, saying, "I'm going to get you!" Then crawl away, encouraging them to follow. Try hiding behind a piece of furniture and let them find you.
- Create an obstacle course. Fill the room with things, so that your baby can practice crawling over, under, or around. This is bound to enhance their locomotive skills.