As a mom, watching your child’s development is one of the most rewarding parts of parenting – it’s amazing to witness their milestones like first words and steps. Learning how to move around independently is crucial for a baby or toddler’s overall growth, so if you’ve been wondering what gross motor skills are and when they happen in typical childhood development, then this guide is perfect for you!
In this blog post, we’ll break down what gross motor skills are and discuss effective ways to support healthy physical progress that can have lasting positive effects on your little one. Read on to learn more about developing gross motor skills with your tot so they can grow into the best version of themselves!
What Are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills are the larger movements of our bodies that involve movement of limbs and body parts to complete an action. These skills typically involve coordination, balance, speed, agility and strength. Gross motor development is important for your child as it helps them become more independent in their environment and allows them to explore new places and activities with confidence.
Why Are They Important For Children To Develop?
Gross motor skills are essential for children as they help with their overall growth and development. They allow kids to control large muscles in their body, enabling them to walk, run, jump, and climb. This type of physical activity helps build strength and coordination that can be used for other activities such as sports or playing an instrument. Gross motor skills also help children become more coordinated, develop better balance and coordination, and become more confident in their movements.
What Are The Stages of Gross Motor Skills?
While every child develops differently, there are general milestones in gross motor skills that can be used as a guide. These stages can help you track your child’s progress and decide if they need any extra support or assistance.
Stage 1: Rolling
Around 3 to 4 months your baby should start rolling from their back to stomach and vice versa.
Stage 2: Sitting Up
At around 6-7 months your baby will begin developing the strength of their trunk muscles and be able to sit without support.
Stage 3: Crawling
At around 8-9 months babies will start to crawl or inchworm across the floor. This enables them to move independently and explore their environment. Crawling is the first major gross motor skill that most children develop. Crawling helps to strengthen the muscles in the upper body and arms, as well as improve coordination and balance. To support your child’s crawling development, make sure to provide plenty of tummy time, encourage crawling games and obstacle courses, and provide safe spaces for your child to explore and practice their newfound mobility.
Stage 4: Standing Up & Walking
By 12-15 months, most children can walk with assistance but are often still unsteady on their feet. Eventually, they will be able to confidently walk around the home and outside with fewer falls.
Walking requires a combination of strength, balance, and coordination, and is a major milestone in a child’s independence and mobility. To support your child’s walking development, make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for practice, such as holding onto furniture, pushing a walker or stroller, and playing games that involve walking, such as “follow the leader.”
Stage 5: Running & Jumping
Around 2 years old, your child should start running and jumping independently as well as climbing stairs with alternating feet. Running requires a combination of strength, speed, balance, and coordination, and is important for a child’s physical fitness, social-emotional development, and overall well-being. To support your child’s running development, make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor play and physical activity, such as running games, tag, and sports. Encourage your child to run and play with friends, and provide plenty of positive reinforcement and support.
How Can I Help My Child Develop Gross Motor Skills?
The most important thing to do is create a safe environment for your child that encourages exploration. Make sure there are age-appropriate toys and furniture so they can practice standing up, climbing, and jumping without you having to worry.
You can also help your child by modeling the behavior you want them to learn, teaching them how to control their movements and encouraging them when they try something new. Finally, make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for practice—a great way to do this is through outdoor play and physical activities such as running games or obstacle courses. With consistent practice and encouragement, your child will soon be mastering all of their gross motor skills.
Tips for Supporting Gross Motor Skill Development
Here are some additional tips for supporting your child’s gross motor skill development:
- Provide plenty of opportunities for play and physical activity, both indoors and outdoors.
- Encourage your child to explore and practice new movements and skills, such as climbing, jumping, and throwing.
- Offer age-appropriate toys and equipment, such as balls, riding toys, and balance beams.
- Make sure your child has access to safe and supportive environments, such as parks, playgrounds, and indoor play areas.
- Provide positive reinforcement and support, and celebrate your child’s progress and accomplishments.
When To Be Concerned If Your Child Is Not Progressing As Expected
If your child is not making progress in their gross motor development, or if you have any concerns about their movement skills, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional. A doctor or physical therapist can assess your child’s development and provide advice on how to support them.
Can Pediatric Physiotherapy Help With Gross Motor Skills?
Pediatric physiotherapy can play a key role in promoting gross motor skills development in children. Through a variety of exercises and techniques, physiotherapists can help children improve their strength, balance, coordination, and mobility. Here’s a closer look at how physiotherapy can support gross motor skill development and improve outcomes for children.
Assessing Motor Function
The first step in physiotherapy treatment for gross motor skills development is to assess a child’s motor function. This involves evaluating the child’s posture, strength, balance, coordination, and range of motion, as well as their ability to perform various movements such as jumping, running, and throwing. Based on this assessment, the physiotherapist can develop a treatment plan tailored to the child’s specific needs.
One of the primary goals of physiotherapy for gross motor skills development is to improve strength in the large muscle groups. Physiotherapists may use a variety of exercises to achieve this, such as:
- Resistance training with weights, resistance bands, or other equipment to target specific muscle groups.
- Bodyweight exercises, such as squats, lunges, and push-ups, to build overall strength.
- Functional movements, such as crawling and climbing, to target specific muscles and improve coordination.
Balance and Coordination Exercises
In addition to strength training, physiotherapists may also use exercises to improve a child’s balance and coordination. These may include:
- Balance exercises, such as standing on one leg, walking on a balance beam, or using a balance board or wobble cushion.
- Coordination exercises, such as catching and throwing a ball, hopping on one foot, or skipping.
Mobility and Range of Motion Exercises
Finally, physiotherapists may also work with children to improve their mobility and range of motion, which can be important for gross motor skills development. These exercises may include stretching, joint mobilization, and other techniques to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness.
With the help of physiotherapy, children can make significant improvements in their gross motor skill development. By improving strength, balance, coordination, and mobility, children can become more confident and independent in their movements. They may also experience improved cognitive and social-emotional outcomes, as gross motor skills are closely linked to other areas of development.
Physiotherapy can also help to prevent or address issues that may arise as a result of delayed gross motor skill development, such as poor posture, inactivity, and obesity. By addressing these issues early on, children can enjoy a better quality of life and avoid potential health problems in the future.
Gross motor skills development is an important part of a child’s overall physical and cognitive development, and supports their independence, confidence, and overall quality of life. By understanding the different stages of gross motor skill development and offering support and encouragement, parents and caregivers can help their children progress from crawling to running and beyond.
By following these tips and providing plenty of opportunities for practice and exploration, your child will be well on their way to mastering all of their gross motor skills. With patience, consistency, and a supportive environment, you can help your child reach new heights in their physical development.
If your child needs help with physiotherapy. don’t forget that it can play a critical role in promoting gross motor skill development in children. By assessing motor function and using a variety of exercises and techniques, physiotherapists can help children improve their strength, balance, coordination, and mobility, leading to improved outcomes and a better quality of life.
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