The development of your child’s gross motor skills is as important, if not more, as the development of fine motor skills, because without first learning to control his large muscle groups, it would be difficult to achieve mastery of precise movements.
Motor skill development is an important to a person’s physical abilities. These skills can be split into two distinct categories: fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are those that deal with small movements of small muscles, such as grabbing objects with fingers and thumb, eye movement, and lip movement to name a few. The gross motor skills are the bigger movements such as maintaining balance while standing, walking, running and jumping.
The large muscle groups in the arms, legs, torso, and feet are the ones that facilitate these movements. The development of gross motor skills is essential because a child’s body develops from large movements with arms and legs to smaller more refined movements of the hands and fingers. Thus, when he becomes a student, a child with poor gross motor skill development may find himself having difficulty with activities such as writing, sitting up in an alert position, sitting erect to watch classroom activities, or writing on the blackboard. Additionally, the mastery of gross motor skills may also be beneficial to your child’s future ability in sports.
Reflexes typically govern your child’s behaviour for the first few months of life. When these newborn reflexes fade, they are then replaced with more purposeful movements. As your child gains strength and coordination of the muscles, he will begin to explore his surroundings. The first motor hurdle is, however, the control of the head movements. With time, the neck muscles will begin to strengthen and become less wobbly. In the mean time, you would have to support the head of your baby as you pick him up. By the ages of 4 to 6 months, your child would be able to hold his head steady and it does not fall back when you sit him up.
When your child gains enough strength in his hips and torso, he would be able to sit. The child should be able to sit with support for about 10 minutes by the time he is 4 months of age. It is during this time that your child is able to explore his world from the comfort of a stroller. By the time your child hits the age of 5 months, he should be able to sit alone with legs spread apart when you set him down. You may notice that your child would still have to lean forward and place his hands in front of him to maintain his sitting position, but this would be temporary as you will soon notice that your child would learn to free his hands in order to touch objects of interest to him. By the time your child is of the age of 9 months, he would be able to push himself up to a sitting position.
At the same time your child masters the skill of sitting up, he may also start learning the skill of crawling. A baby may typically attempt to crawl when he is at the age of 6 months, and may master the skill by the time he gets to the age of 7 months. A babies arm muscles are usually stronger then their legs, therefore you may realise that your child will first begin to crawl by dragging himself around by pushing with his arms, and dragging his legs behind. Later, he begins to dig in with his toes and knees. By eight months of age, he will probably scoot about on hands and knees in the traditional crawl position. Once your child is able to do this, he will begin to explore all the aspects of your home.
Between three and six months of age, your baby bears some weight on his legs when you stand him up. At first, he stiffly locks his legs. A few weeks later, he bounces by bending and straightening his legs. Check to see that he can stand with his feet flat. If he seems to stand on his toes (called toe walking), it may be a sign he is bearing his weight on his legs too early. Your baby may begin pulling himself to a standing position as early as six months or as late as ten months of age. Most babies pull to a stand between the eighth and ninth months. You can help your baby by providing him with stable objects that won’t topple over with his weight.
After he can pull himself up to a stand by holding onto a piece of furniture, he starts to cruise. Cruising consists of taking steps while holding onto the furniture for support. At first, he probably faces the furniture and shuffles sideways. As he gains confidence in his balance, he slides one hand as he walks forward. Cruising usually begins in the 9th month, but can begin as early as 7 1/2 months and as late as 12 1/2 months. Learning to walk is as exciting for you as it is for your child. Walking with or without assistance usually occurs by a baby’s first birthday, and most babies walk well by 14 months of age, and are able to run, although albeit stiffly, by the time they are 18 months of age.
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