The motor milestones that occur during your baby's first year may seem unrelated to one another, but they actually happen in sequence. Development usually progresses from head to foot, with skills involving the head and arms developing before those that involve the legs and feet. Motor control also progresses from the center of the body outward, which means that your baby will be able to control her torso before she can manipulate her fingers and toes.
The following are some ways to enhance your baby's motor skills’ development.
To help baby develop head control:
- Place your baby stomach-down on the floor. Do this several times a day to let him practice.
- Entice your baby to lift his head. Put an unbreakable mirror or large picture in front of him, or get down on the floor face-to-face with him.
Reaching and Grasping
Try these four suggestions to encourage the development of your baby's hand-eye coordination:
- Install a crib gym. This allows him to bat at the objects overhead. (To be safe, remove it from the crib as soon as he can sit up.)
- While your baby lies on his back on the floor, dangle eye-catching objects above him. Shake them three to eight inches above his head, giving him the opportunity to swipe at them.
- To help your 4-month-old baby practice grasping objects, hand her rattles or other safe items to hold. Things that make noise when she shakes them, or have a nice texture to gum on, may encourage her to keep her grip.
- Place several toys within reach. Let her grasp for things as she lies on her stomach on the floor.
- You can encourage rolling with these simple ways:
- Provide your baby with plenty of space and opportunity to practice. The floor is always great for this.
- Praise baby. Talk to her and encourage her as she practices rolling.
- Hold an object of interest, such as a rattle or a baby mirror, next to her. This can catch her attention and entice her to turn her body to see it.
To help baby practice sitting skills:
- Place him in your lap, facing outward, while you sit cross-legged on the floor. Your stomach and legs will provide the necessary support for his back.
- Prop baby on a standard pillow or a U-shaped pillow. Let him experience the sensation of sitting with your supervision.
Crawling and Walking
Most babies will follow a recognizable pattern of learning locomotion. Once they do, try encouraging your baby to learn locomotion with these simple games:
- Play crawling "tag." This can be great fun for babies who are learning to move about. Crawl after your baby, saying, "I'm going to get you!" Then crawl away, encouraging her to follow. Try hiding behind a piece of furniture and letting her "find" you.
- Create an obstacle course. Fill the room with things your baby can practice crawling over, under, or around. This is bound to enhance her locomotive skills.
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