Thursday, July 28, 2005

Baby's Motor Skills

It is always exciting to see babies gain more and more ability with things like their motor skills. Each new milestone is worth celebrating and when we do that, the baby certainly picks up on the positive reinforcement. Whether it is an accomplishment with gross motor skills or fine motor skills, it is always a good feeling to see our children learning new things.

Keep in mind that all those development charts are only to be followed loosely and not a guide for when things will be happening. If you look at them at all, it will at least give you an idea of what to be expecting in the near future. Parents need to avoid looking at neighborhood children or cousins to compare their own child's particular accomplishments with stages the other baby has reached. The rate at which babies grow and learn new things will definitely not all be the same and trying to compare simply causes stress if our children aren't doing exactly what their contemporaries have started doing.

Some of the very first motor skills that babies learn are basic movement things such as lifting his or her head and playing with feet or hands. Before too long, the baby will be able to hold onto toys you give him, although he will not be holding them for very long periods of time in the beginning.

Soon after those skills, you will find that the baby you put on her back is now lying on her tummy. She has learned to roll over and that, too, is use of the gross motor skills.

When baby just rolls over and plays with things in the crib, there is relative safety. Very soon, however, he will be out of the crib and you will begin to see still another gross motor skill developing, that of crawling. She will look comical with the way she tries to learn this skill, but in no time at all she will be crawling all around the house. This is the time to baby proof and put up your baby safety gates, etc.

After crawling, the next natural progression is walking. This will happen usually between 11 and 14 months of age. Besides the walking, this is the time period when the baby will be using many of the motor skills he has been learning, including playing with some kinds of toys that need those fine motor skills.

After the first year is when some very important fine motor skills will be more fully developed. These things will include steps such as using a crayon to "draw" on paper (make sure there's enough actual paper on the floor or table so that the colors stay on the paper) and picking up some finger foods such as dry cereal if she is old enough for those foods. This is also the time to teach the baby how to start using a spoon, but be prepared for a very messy meal until she gets the hang of it.

Other milestones will be coming along in their own time so don't rush them. You will notice the toddler running and jumping when he is ready, along with hundreds of other small and large achievements. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.