What are Gross Motor Skills ? Gross Motor Skills are those which require movement of the whole body and involves movement of large muscle groups.
In infants movements such as rolling and crawling are gross motor skills and as children grow older they develop skills such as walking, jumping, climbing, balancing, throwing and catching. Gross Motor Skills are important as they are the key to other daily activities. For example, in order to be able to write and do other fine motor activities, we need to have the ability to maintain an upright posture. Being able to balance allows us to do activities such as putting on our trousers where we need to be able to stand up on one leg without falling over or simple activities such as kicking a ball.
Gross Motor Milestone Development
Development of gross motor milestones usually starts from the upper part of the body where a baby starts to develop head control at the age of 2 months. By 4 months babies typically can support their body with their elbows while they hold up their head. Soon after, they can rock on their stomach, kick their legs and swing their arms, which lets them roll over. By 6 – 7 months or so, most babies start to have stronger trunk muscles which allows them to sit up. Somewhere between 7 and 10 months, they may begin to creep on their tummy or crawl. At about 10 months, babies are trying to pull themselves to a standing position. Once upright, they’ll grab one piece of furniture and then another to “cruise.” At some point, (usually between 11 and 18 months) they finally take that first independent step or waddle !! Gross motor milestones don’t end with walking. As the child becomes more confident, their feet get closer together, their steps are faster and they learn how to start and stop, turn and even run. Eventually they start going up the stairs one by one and progress to alternate steps, they learn how to jump, balance on one leg and hop. Climbing, riding a bicycle and scooting around are all gross motor skills requiring balance and coordination in a developing child.
For children it is important that they practice Gross Motor skills so that they can keep up with their peers during play. From when they are just a few months old it is important to leave them in a safe place where they can practise movements. I always found that placing your baby on mats on the floor is the safest place. Leaving babies in modern products such as baby walkers, baby bouncers and high chairs for prolonged periods of time may in actual fact be hindering a baby from performing natural movement. Research shows that movement is not only important for the development on gross motor milestones but also for their cognitive development.
Watch this space for tips on how to stimulate Gross Motor Milestones !