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baby girl on her tummy practicing her motor development

Baby motor development: First movements and coordination

5min

blog kinedu

In this article, we’ll talk about baby motor development and the specific movements babies will accomplish. Also, learn some strategies to keep fostering their development.

We’ve previously talked about how your baby’s vision is one of their main tools for learning and taking in all sorts of information about the world around them. Your little one’s first six months are a very important time in which they begin developing their hand-eye coordination, a skill they’ll need every day throughout their life. During this time, you’ll notice how they start gaining strength and making new movements in an attempt to explore their surroundings.

Baby motor development stage by stage

First month

During their first month of life, your little one is beginning to adapt to their environment. This is a period of adjustment for them, so they’ll need you to empathize and attune to their needs. Skin-to-skin contact will make them feel safe and loved. Help them relax by gently massaging their hands, feet, and face. Gently massage their hands and the sole of their feet using your thumbs. Caress their ears and gently pass your fingers from their eyebrows to their chin in a heart-shaped way.

Their eyes are one of the first things you’ll see them move. They’ll only be able to see about a foot away, but that’s enough to see you. They might try to look toward familiar voices and make little kicks when lying face up. As they develop this sense of security, you’ll notice they start opening their tight and tiny hands.

These are their very first movements in the attempt to get to know what’s around them. Make them feel they’re in a secure space to unwind by rocking them using rhythmical movements and holding them in fetal positions against your chest. This way they’ll sense your touch and feel protected.

Second month

During this month, you’ll notice how your love and touch are making your little one feel confident enough to start stretching. Tummy time will be a great way for them to begin stretching their hands and legs. Having your face or a bright toy in front of them will encourage them to slowly lift their head up.

Your baby’s vision, head control, and muscle strength are being fostered during these meaningful interactions with you. Since they’re discovering their hands, they might attempt to see them and wave their arms when they are excited. After many tries, they’ll move them to their mouth and sucking will become a way of soothing themselves.

Baby motor development during the third month

During this time, your little one might be able to hold a small object on their hand. They’ll be able to support their upper body when lying on their stomach and even take swings at dangling objects.

You’ll notice a dramatic transformation from a totally dependent newborn to an active and responsive infant. Their movements will be much more coordinated, and they’ll be able to follow moving objects and shake a small toy like a rattle. They’ll acquire more voluntary control and strength. They’ll also begin pushing down on their legs when standing on a firm surface.

You’ll notice their body is much more relaxed; they might entertain themselves by opening and closing their hands, or by kicking and raising their legs. Foster their self-discovery and creative play by making a playground area for them. Use a soft blanket and noisy toys to encourage them to discover foot and eye-hand movements.

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Fourth month

This month, your little one will be so responsive, they’ll be able to open their hand when you hand them something as if expecting contact. They’ll love grabbing their feet when lying face up and follow colorful moving toys.

The past months will have helped them establish the muscle control needed to take on bigger challenges like rolling over and sitting up. You’ll see they are able to support their own weight when you hold them on a flat surface. You’ll see they get stronger every day and that they’ll even attempt to sit up when you gently pull them by the hands. Eventually they’ll be able to stay seated when you support their back with a pillow or furniture.

Even though they’re taking on bigger challenges, it is very important to keep tummy time a regular thing. This way they’ll keep practicing their movements and coordination to keep strengthening their neck, shoulders, and trunk. Grab a colorful book and enjoy it while you are both on your tummies, they’ll be excited to reach forward and touch it.

Fifth month

Your little will gain so much strength, they’ll be able to hold bigger objects with their hands. They’ll not only attempt to reach for objects when playing on their tummy, but they’ll also be able to grab them.

Their chest and arms are getting so strong, they’ll start pushing up on their arms and arching their back to lift their chest. This strengthens their upper body and prepares their muscles to remain steady and upright when sitting.  Your baby’s movements will be so coordinated, they’ll be able to grab an object using both hands at the same time.

Play with different sounds so that they can practice following them and turning towards them. Use a mirror to stimulate their sense of exploration and self-awareness. You’ll see their curiosity makes them reach for it and explore parts of their body they didn’t even know existed. With every little movement they’ll be learning about balance and weight shifting.

Sixth month

Your love and dedication will get your little one ready to sit without support.

Their movements will be so strong and coordinated that they’ll be able to hold two objects at the same time. Their growing hand-eye coordination will also allow them to transfer objects from one hand to the other. Their core will be strong enough to roll over both ways and start experimenting with going from laying down to sitting up by themselves.

Through these explorations they’ll become even more curious about their surroundings. They’ll also become more aware of different sensations and you’ll see small movements like curling the toes up and stroking the carpet to feel different textures.

Keep it up! Soon, thanks to their baby motor development, your child will be making larger movements and tackle bigger milestones like crawling and walking!

Check out this article to learn more about their future physical milestones.

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