Movement is one of the things that parents like to monitor as they watch their babies grow. They avidly await the first step, the first time to self-feed, the first time to scribble, the first time to jump — many such milestones pertain to the acquisition of motor skills.
Fine vs. Gross
Motor skills are all about the ability to move and make motions. They are typically sorted into two categories: fine and gross. Fine motor skills refer to movements that engage smaller muscles, while gross motor skills are bigger in nature and make use of larger muscles.
Fine motor skills development mainly takes place at preschool age, although some skills, such as grasping and picking up objects, are acquired much earlier. On the other hand, gross motor skills, such as rolling over and crawling, start at infancy.
Optimal Motor Skills Development
Both kinds of motor skills are essential to your children’s growth and development. Barring the presence of certain conditions, motor skills naturally develop. Parents mainly need only consult their milestones checklist and wait for the skills to manifest. In case of delay, they can then consult their pediatrician for advice on how to help their children.
There are some things you as a parent or caregiver can do to enhance child cognitive and motor skills development. First and foremost, you can ensure that your kids are getting proper nourishment for their age. Complete and balanced nutrition for kids lays the foundation for healthy growth. Second, there are activities you can use to help speed up their development.
Fine Motor Skills Activities
Smaller motor skills aren’t always about hand and finger dexterity. They refer to anything involving more delicate movements, including moving the lips and tongue to taste or eat.
Fine motor activities do usually focus on hand-eye coordination and the improvement of precise movement using smaller muscle sets. The following are some recommendations for assisting in your children’s fine motor skills development at baby and toddler stage.
- Giving them safe small objects to practice their grasp reflex on
- Encouraging them to play with small objects that they can pick up and transfer from one hand to the other
- Stuffing an object inside a container so they can pull it out and then put it back inside
- Asking them to point or poke at things
- Letting them practice their pincer grip as they learn to use their thumbs
- At about 18 months, giving them crayons to scribble with
Gross Motor Skills Activities
Gross motor skills pertain to movements that involve the larger muscles of the legs, arms, torso, and shoulders, such as when babies reach for objects or sit up. You can do the following to initiate larger movement activities to improve motion of larger muscle sets:
- Setting up a trampoline for them to jump on
- Playing catch with them
- Copying animal movements together
- Setting up an obstacle course with low hurdles and tunnels
- Doing the wheelbarrow with them (they walk on their hands while you hold up their feet)
Motor Skills Red Flags
If, at one year of age, a child shows the following delays, occupational therapy or physiotherapy may be needed. Consultation with a doctor is imperative.
- Does not grasp and let go of toys
- Does not bring objects to mouth
- Does not clap
- Does not use thumb and pointer finger to pick up and eat finger foods
- Cannot move around to get things he wants
- Cannot put objects into containers
- Cannot hold a feeding bottle
- Always keeps hands in a fisted position
It’s true that children develop at different paces, but there are things that they should be doing by a certain age. You should pay attention and make sure that your children are getting ready to hit milestones on schedule.
Delays are usually indicative of particular conditions that may be corrected with the help of early intervention. When it comes to these corresponding therapies, it’s best to begin them as early as possible.