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Motor development in early childhood

baby girl on her tummy

Key points:

  1. Motor skills help your baby complete tasks and explore independently.
  2. Motor development is a subdomain of Physical development in children.
  3. Opportunities for muscle strengthening and coordination are crucial for developing motor skills
  4. Babies reach motor milestones like sitting, crawling, and eventually walking at their own pace.

Thanks to motor skills, your little one will be able to complete tasks independently and explore the world around them. 

Motor development is a subdomain of the Physical developmental area. Look out for the rest of the area’s articles!

How do motor skills develop?

Motor skills, like everything else, are learned, and practice is key. To develop these skills, your baby needs opportunities to strengthen their muscles and coordinate their actions.

During the first few months, this will translate into getting enough “tummy-time”, which will strengthen the upper body muscles. When lying on their back, your baby may start lifting their head momentarily and turn it from side to side. You can also test their grasp reflex –place your finger in their hand and they’ll automatically curl their fingers around yours!

Watch how your baby’s head starts to stay upright when you hold them in a sitting position. In no time, they’ll be able to sit up without any help and they’ll gain more and more control over their head by month four. Sitting will also provide some practice in balance and coordination, which will come in handy when your little one prepares to walk! To encourage this big step, try holding your little one in a standing position. They’ll start bearing some of their weight on their legs. At six months, your baby will use their hands to support themselves while sitting. 

Around month five, your child might start rolling from their stomach onto their back –even though they might not be able to get back on their stomach again.

At nine months, your baby will start moving with alternate leg and arm movements. Crawling is another exciting milestone, and great to get your baby exploring their environment and improving their spatial perception. However, this new mobility means that if you haven’t already baby-proofed your home, the time is now. Your little one will keep getting more and more mobile with time, and in only a few short months, they might start standing up by holding onto furniture or other objects, until finally taking their first steps. How exciting!

Remember that every child develops differently. These are just developmental guidelines and they are by no means definitive. The only baby you should compare your baby against is themselves! However, activities such as catching and throwing, swimming, or climbing will provide more opportunities for improving hand-eye coordination and general motor skills in your child! 

Kinedu suggests activities to work on the baby’s motor development and makes each interaction a learning opportunity. Here we present to you a video that works in this area. The activity is recommended for babies 7 to 9 months of age. We hope you enjoy it!


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