“Once your baby has mastered his reaching abilities, he is taking his first step into exploring the physical world.”
The rate in which your infant acquires his motor achievement has little relevance to his IQ score or any cognitive performance, as long as he lies in the normal range. Motor skills involve much more than just movement, these skills lead to an understanding of the social and physical environment. Once a baby masters his motor milestones, his experience will become broader and his perception of the world will drastically improve. Acquiring these skills comes hand in hand with a sense of independence, a higher self-esteem, stronger muscle growth, and better coordination of neural circuits.
What motivates these developments? It was thought to be just nature’s job, but it seems that nurture also plays a role as reinforcement. It is a combination of a programmed sequence of neural maturation and consistency in daily exercise. The neuromuscular maturation is indeed “hard wired” and its pace determines this progression. If there is no neuromuscular maturation, then practice will not influence the development at all. The motor cortex is one of the first areas of the brain that shows electrical activity but it takes a while for it to fully mature.
Once your baby has mastered his reaching abilities, he is taking his first step into exploring the physical world. Grasping actually occurs before birth, though this is purely reflexive and it ends at 2 months. The babies enter into this phase, called the fixed extension, that involves an extension of the arm, but their fists are tightly closed. Normally, successful reaching is achieved around the 4th month and by the 6th month; the act is smooth, accurate, and very much controlled. How is this skill mastered? There is a blend of corticospinal fibers innervating the arms and muscles, motor cortical areas innervating the hand, and myelination of fibers and vision that allows us to be able to accurately reach the target. Limbic and motor planning play a role here too, where experience gets to play a role in this achievement.