How Can I Help My Baby Develop Gross Motor Skills?
Since every child is different, however, it is important not to feel discouraged if you have concerned about your child reaching gross motor development milestones. Instead, speak with your pediatrician about referral to a physical therapist if needed. You can also support your child’s gross motor development at home with the following activities.
Top Ways to Help Your Baby Develop Gross Motor Skills
Take Some Tummy Time
Most physicians recommend tummy time to help your baby develop core, back, and neck strength. Under close supervision, place the child on his or her stomach. Hold the baby’s attention by getting on eye level and rattling a toy. It can also be helpful to use a tummy time mirror so babies can lift their necks to look at themselves and remain happily engaged. To avoid fatigue or strain, always aim to keep tummy time sessions short. Two minutes per tummy time session should suffice.
Get the Ball Rolling
Rolling a baby ball can help your infant build arm strength and hand-eye coordination. Demonstrate how to roll the ball to your infant. Initially the baby will just swat at the object, but eventually he or she will learn how to roll it back in your direction. Be sure to give plenty of praise for these efforts (“Good job! You rolled the ball!”)
Keep It Pushing
Toys that encourage push and pull are great for helping build stamina and resistance. Add a string to any toys with wheels (such as a truck or train) so that babies can happily chug them along.
Bring on the Building Blocks
A tower of large, baby-friendly building blocks can encourage babies to crawl and knock it down. These toys also encourage babies to reach high to build the tower, thereby strengthen arms, core, back, and legs.
Make Noise with Newspapers or Magazines
Grandma’s secret of giving the baby an old phonebook to play with still rings true. Many babies delight in crunching up and ripping pages out of colorful magazines, newspapers, or phonebooks. As babies sit and crunch along under close supervision, the activity builds core and upper arm strength. You can also place a nursing pillow behind your baby for additional support.
Take a Trip Through a Tunnel
A playmat tunnel is a great way to encourage crawling and overall muscle development. Play peek-a-book or use a favorite mobile to encourage your child to reach the other side.
Bring Out a Big Box
Babies are naturally curious. And to these little ones, sometimes nothing is more interesting than discovering a large, empty box. Cover a large box with construction paper to encourage them to push it, lift the flaps, or look inside and build all of their muscles.
If you are interested in additional activities or early childhood intervention (ECI) for your child’s gross motor development, contact The Warren Center.