Gross motor skills involve using large muscle groups to perform movements such as sitting, standing, walking, kicking a ball, rolling, and jumping. Babies kickstart their motor skill development journey by moving their arms and legs and rolling over when in their mothers' wombs. Once they arrive, you can see them growing and developing at an amazing pace. With the right attention and age-appropriate activities, you can boost your baby's motor skill development and help them reach their full potential. Here's all you need to know about tracking your baby's gross motor skill development and encouraging them to meet their milestones faster.
As parents, we want to ensure our children get the most out of every activity. Physical activities can help kids build strength, coordination, and balance while providing vital mental stimulation. To foster development, encourage your child to play with age-appropriate toys and games, and the best part of all—be a part of everything they do and have loads of fun together.
Let us delve deep into understanding gross motor skill development by age, how you can track your child's growth journey, and how you can support them.
Gross Motor Skills of Infants (0-1 Year)
From birth to one year is a period of fast growth and development. During this period, your baby can move their body in previously impossible ways. Your baby will sway their hands and move their legs in the air within a few weeks from birth. Soon, they can hold their head up while on their tummy, and so on. By the age of one year, your baby can:
- Control their head and neck movement
- Roll over onto their tummy and back
- Sit up independently
- Reach out for toys
- Crawl or shuffle across the floor
- Pull themselves up by holding onto furniture
- Stand up and take wobbly steps
It is astonishing to see how quickly they grow and develop, and watching them progress each day is one of the most rewarding parts of parenthood.
Gross Motor Skills of Toddlers (1-3 years)
Anyone who has seen a toddler, even from a distance, would agree they are a bundle of energy. Running, jumping around, climbing on furniture—they need to keep moving around and about. By this age, your child can move around independently but still need some assistance in performing their day-to-day tasks.
From 1-2 years of age, your child will be able to:
- Walk forwards and backward with ease
- Sitting confidently on a chair
- Push and pull toys all around
- Start climbing onto furniture pieces
Jump up and down on their feet
Between 2 and 3 years of age, your child can:
- Go up and down the slides easily
- Race around the room and navigate obstacles
- Go up and down stairs without help
- Catch, kick, and throw big balls with ease
- Ride a toy scooter and tricycle around the house
- Balance on walls and beams with confidence
Gross Motor Skills of Preschoolers (3-5 years)
While seeing your child's mobility increase is thrilling, remember their physical capabilities are still limited. Usually, preschoolers do not have the coordination or fine motor skills to complete tasks such as threading objects, writing with a pencil, or tying their shoelaces. It is because the parts of their brains and bodies responsible for these actions are still developing and need more time.
You will notice that your child between the age of 3 and 4 years can:
- Run with ease, including starting, stopping, and changing directions
- Throw and occasionally catch a ball without wobbling
- Swing, slide, and climb on various playground equipment
- Squat and stand back up without assistance
- Hop on one leg
- Stand on one foot briefly
Between ages 4 and 5 years, your child can:
- Run around obstacles
- Walk on a line
- Balances on one foot
- Uses complex play slides independently
- Walks toe-heel
- Walks up and down stairs independently, alternating feet
- Kicks ball forward
- Pushes, pulls, steers wheeled toys
- Hang on monkey bars
If you keep encouraging and assisting your preschooler in activities requiring coordination and balance, they will make even more progress each day.
How to Encourage Gross Motor Skill Development in Your Child ?
As a parent, you play a huge role in your child's growth and development. You spend the most time with your child and have enough opportunities throughout the day to encourage your child to try and learn something new. Your playful interaction at home can be a stepping stone at multiple levels for your child to boost their gross motor skill development.
Here are some tips and simple activities to get you started:
- Start with basic activities such as rolling and crawling
- Add variety to tummy time with movement activities such as reaching for toys, rolling over, etc
- Play fun games like peek-a-boo with gestures
- Play with balloons for excellent hand-eye coordination
- Creative play by stacking cups and building blocks
- Get down on the floor and roll a ball back and forth to each other
- Get active with classic childhood games like tag, red light/green light, or hopscotch
- Make a "fort" using pillows, blankets, and couch cushions, and let your little one jump, crawl, or climb in and out
- Get a play parachute or use a bed sheet to make waves, or have your toddler lift and lower it differently
- Set up an obstacle course; fit it with things like cones and jump ropes
- Let your children help with chores such as tidying up; picking things up using both hands can be a great way to help them practice their gross motor skills
- Turn cardboard boxes into castles, cars, or houses for pretend play—or just cut out a window and let them crawl through
- Gardening activities such as squatting, bending down, and reaching up are wonderful ways to boost your child's gross motor skills
- Set up an obstacle course in the living room using pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and chairs. Ask them to do activities such as crawling under the pillow, standing on one foot, or doing frog jumps between the chairs.
You can help your child develop fine and gross motor skills in many ways. These simple activities will help you provide the physical stimulation your little one needs while creating unforgettable memories with your family. Most importantly, celebrate every achievement. Positive affirmation can go a long way in motivating and inspiring your child. So, don't forget to cheer them on and celebrate each milestone.
Delays in Gross Motor Skills Development
If your child's gross motor skills are developing slower than their peers, do not start worrying immediately. Most parents worry their kids are not reaching developmental milestones by a specific age. If you are one of them, remember each child grows at their own pace. It can be challenging for you, but respecting your child's learning process and giving them the freedom to explore and acquire knowledge independently is crucial. You focus on spending quality time with your child and creating a warm and nurturing environment at home.
Do not compare your child with other kids or push them to meet a milestone. This way, you will pass on your stress to your child, which is unhealthy for their growth and development. However, consult their doctor if your child cannot catch up within 2-3 months of missing a milestone. Their doctor should be able to guide them and you on the right path.
You have an important role in supporting your children's gross motor skill development, as these foundational movements are essential for physical health and well-being throughout life. From proper physical activity to developing strong bones, muscles, and coordination, ensuring children can move through meaningful and purposeful play is invaluable for their growth and development.
As a parent, you should encourage and create opportunities for children to move, explore and practice new motor skills as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. You will likely find that participating in the activities together can be loads of fun.
A little nudge and push from you can help your child quickly meet their gross skill milestones. Children love to play with their parents, and you can use their playtime to do activities that will enhance their overall growth and development. At Raising Superstars, we develop age-appropriate screen-free activities for children between 0 and 5 years. Our prodigy programs focus on making the most of a child's inborn skills and talents and honing them through five minutes of daily fun activities. These programs help parents support their child's growth and development journey from the beginning. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today!