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Ways to Promote Gross Motor Development in Babies
Many parents ask me how they can improve their child’s development, specifically in the gross motor domain. Below are some general tips that you can implement at home to assist with the acquisition of gross motor skills.
- Get down to your babies level. If your baby is doing tummy time, get right down on the floor with him/her. You’ll notice longer stamina, and likely observe him/her staring into your face. Babies love looking at mommy and daddy! If your baby is working on crawling, crawl along with him/her! Babies learn through imitation.
- Practice the skill that you want to improve on! This seems intuitive, but often times we back off on skills that make our child feel uncomfortable or frustrated. If your child is struggling to sit, for example, he/she may resist this position. It’s not uncommon for parents to “give in” and forego practice. However, the only way to improve is through practice! Be imaginative and distract, distract, distract!
- Listen to your child’s cues. If your child is hungry, sick, fussy, or just had vaccinations, it is likely not the time to practice new or difficult skills. Back off and try again at a better time. Know your child’s “best times” of the day; is he/she most alert after a nap or in the evening following his/her bath?
- Get your baby out of the bouncy chair, car seat and swing! Picture this: You wake up bleary eyed after a night of very broken sleep. You feed the baby and quickly put the child in the car seat and run to the nearest coffee shop to grab a drink. After that you head to the grocery store, click the car seat into the stroller base and do some shopping. On the way home, the baby falls asleep and you sneak in and place the car seat in the living room and wait until the baby finishes his/her nap while you finally get to enjoy that cup of coffee! Sound familiar? I’m sure it does to most parents (including myself!). All of a sudden, 15 minutes in the car seat turned into a 4 hour affair. Babies cannot improve their strength, balance, or coordination while in these devices. As well, prolonged use can put babies at risk for positional plageocephaly.
- Invest in some good toys. Balls, blocks, light up toys etc. are all great ways to help children be more motivated to work on their gross motor skills. Toys don’t have to be expensive. Swap toys with other parents when your child gets bored of his/hers, or look at second hand shops for great deals on gently used toys.
- Stop comparing your child through social media! Everyone has a friend with a baby close in age. All of a sudden your friend is posting pictures or videos of his/her child doing a skill that your child hasn’t mastered yet. Panic sets in and you wonder if your child is behind. You immediately start googling developmental milestones. Relax and take a deep breath! Development happens at its own pace. Try not to compare and enjoy the phase that your child is in.
Most importantly, have fun! Incorporate play time into your daily routine. Try and enjoy the current stage your child is at; in the blink of the eye they’ll be on to something new.