The first year of a baby’s life is the most crucial year for their gross motor skill development. Motor skills refer to the body’s ability to manage the process of movement. Gross Motor skills involves baby’s milestone like holding head, sitting, crawling and walking. During her first year, your baby is busy developing coordination and muscle strength in every part of her body.
Babies develop their skills gradually. It’s so overwhelming to see your newborn doing new activities everyday, but these abilities don’t develop overnight. Babies put a lot of effort and handwork to achieve these motor skills. There are a lot of new parents frequently asking questions around baby development including when babies typically hold their head, sit up, roll over crawl and finally walk. So below are some baby’s milestone related these motor skills.
Your baby’s first big milestone is his/her control over the head. Babies are born with fairly weak muscles and they will rely upon you to support their head and neck. By the end of 2 months the baby should be able to lift it slightly and turn from side to side while lying on their stomach. All these little movements help strengthen the baby’s neck muscles. By 6 months generally the baby will be able to hold their head steady and gain control over their neck.
At around 4 months the baby starts to roll over. When you place them on their tummy they will begin to push up on their arm. Tummy to side rolling is most common in babies at this age. By 6 months most babies have gained enough abdominal strength to flip in both directions and roll over from their back to front. Rolling over helps strengthen the upper body and neck muscles that your baby needs to sit up. So always encourage your baby to roll over by placing toys or books near to them, so that they roll over to reach those things.
Holding head control and having enough upper body strength is a must for a baby before he/ she is able to sit up on their own. At around 5 to 6 months, babies begin to sit with little support. At 9 months babies can sit without any support and easily get in and out of sitting position.
Once the baby is comfortable in sitting, the next baby’s milestone is walking. Just like other milestone, walking age also varies between children. Some take their first step around 9 to 12 months while others may take a little longer time i.e around 15 to 17 months. At around 9 months, babies most likely start trying to pull themselves up to stand while holding something like bed or sofa. Soon they also try to take some steps holding from one side of the furniture to the next. They may also be able to stand without support till their first birthday. At 14 months normally most of the babies walk a few steps independently and by the end of 17 months your child will become steadier in his/ her walk.
Causes of delay
Motor skill development of the child is an important aspect in a child’s overall growth and development. But problems in sitting, crawling and walking are the most common developmental delay a child faces. A child with motor skill developmental delay may experience difficulty coordinating certain movements such as holding a pencil, walking and performing activities requiring brain and body coordination. Blow are some of the basic causes of these delays in kids:
- Premature birth
- Cerebral Palsy (brain damage before birth)
- Myopathy (a disease of muscles)
- Brain injury
- Ataxia (defective muscle coordination)
- Problems with vision
- Spina Bifida (birth defect in the baby that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not develop completely)
Tips to improve motor skill
Usually a child who is late doing certain activities catches up to other children. But sometimes, developing late is the sign of a health condition. In case a child does not show any of the above mentioned motor skill development on time, talk with your pediatrician. In addition, try these tips mentioned below
- Give your baby plenty of tummy time. Lay your baby on his tummy and place the toys he/ she likes in front of them. It helps strengthen your baby’s arms, legs, torso, as well as his neck muscles.
- Once the baby gains control over their head, you can encourage them to sit by placing a pillow around them for support. Be careful and stay close to help them if they fall.
- Try sitting them on the floor while holding their back up straight. This helps improve their muscle control and coordination.
- Once the baby starts sitting independently, encourage them to crawl. Set up an area on the floor with their favorite toys and things that they can explore and if they don’t crawl to reach out to toys show them how to crawl by doing yourself and ask your baby to imitate.
- Once your baby pulls himself up and gains balance holding your hands, guide him take a few steps, this will help him gain confidence to take those first steps.
- When the baby starts balancing and standing for a few seconds, start balancing games. Sit with the baby on the floor and help them stand up. Then count how long they can stay up before falling. Don’t forget to praise after each attempt.
- Allow your child to be bare feet. There are tiny muscles in the feet that need to be developed. You can do this by bearing weight on them. The muscles in your feet can easily grasp the ground when bare feet.
- Place their favorite things just out of reach so they have no choice but to try and stand to get it.
- Bouncing a baby up and down strengthens their lower body and works on their balance. Hold their arms and hands, and assist them in learning to bounce.
Foods to improve motor skill:
As soon as your baby is 6 months, taking care of their diet, as food or nutrients that they get from food is key for a baby to achieve different milestones on time. Nutrients like protein helps in muscle strengthening, calcium and vitamin d promotes bone health and the most important foods that promote brain healthy like omega 3 fatty acids, as these developments involve the brain and body’s muscles to work together. Below are the foods that help in baby’s milestones like sitting, crawling and walking.
Research has established a link between omega 3 fatty acids and brain development in early childhood. These healthy fats have amazing brain boosting power and play a vital role in enhancing memory and attention span. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered as critical brain foods that may counteract oxidative stress and inflammations, two drivers of cognitive decline which may also result in motor skill delay.
All the nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and help in boosting memory. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and are a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages cognitive functions. ( best nuts for protein)
Apart from nuts, seeds like flex, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers and therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and much higher in zinc than other seeds, which help in increasing concentration, memory and thus helps in better coordination.
Ayurveda has the potential to not only correct imbalances in our children, but also to set them on an enduring path toward optimal health and well-being. Thus, ayurvedic herbs must be included in the list of health foods for kids. Ayurvedic herbs such as ashwagandha, mulethi, brahmi, shallaki and turmeric are great for kids’ development. Overall, these herbs support immunity, bone strength, brain development and overall growth.
It is really important to get strong bones and we get a chance to build them only once – throughout childhood and adolescence. Children who get enough calcium in childhood start their adult lives with the strongest bones possible. Mostly calcium is stored in bones and teeth where it supports their structure and hardness, but the body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. Calcium is predominantly found in milk and milk based products like cheese. And is also found in smaller quantities in some nuts and seeds. (Should kids take whey protein?) Moreover, few herbs such as shallaki also contain calcium.
Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body or naturally found in some foods that scavenge or neutralize the effects of cell damage by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Fortunately eating a diet rich in antioxidants or antioxidant rich foods help to fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Turmeric, Vitamin E, cocoa, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Selenium, Beta carotene, Lycopene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Manganese, Polyphenols show great antioxidant properties.
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