Babies naturally develop gross motor skills, also known as gross motor controls, over time. Gross motor skills involve physical movements your baby needs to develop before moving independently or becoming active. These skills are essential to support your baby to walk, sit, run, and more.
Do not confuse gross motor skills with fine motor skills. Gross motor skills involve movements of large body parts such as arms and limbs. A child depends on gross motor skills for swinging limbs, walking, and sitting up. On the other hand, fine motor skills include the movement of smaller body parts for performing delicate tasks such as holding a pencil to write.
A baby starts developing gross motor skills first, followed by fine motor skills. Today we will look at the major gross motor skill milestones based on age and how you can help your child boost them. Keep reading to learn about the 10 gross motor activities to help your child meet the growth and development milestones faster.
Gross Motor Skill Milestones among Kids Aged Between 0 and 5 Years
Newborns start exhibiting gross motor skill development as soon as they are born. Any bodily movement involving moving arms and limbs is based on the development of gross motor skills in the baby. Let us look at major gross motor skills development milestones among young children.
- Lifting head and chest (upper body) while lying on the tummy
- Moving head sideways when lying on the tummy
- Stretching and kicking legs when lying (both on back and tummy)
- Using arms to support their upper body while lying on their tummy or back
- Swiping at the moving objects or things with their hands
- Bringing hands toward the face and moving them backward
- Rolling back and forth when lying
- Sitting using hand support and then sitting without hand support
- Reaching for objects using their hands
- Supporting their weight on their lower limbs or legs
- Acquiring a sitting posture and remaining in the same posture without support
- Crawling on the tummy using their hands and legs to push and pull the body on the floor
- Getting to the hands and knees position
- Crawling using hands and knees
- Pulling up the body using support to stand up
- Walking around using external support such as furniture pieces or walls
- Standing on their legs for a short time without any external support
- Taking at least two to three steps without holding anything
- Walking without any support or assistance
- Taking stairs, two feet on each step, will hands held
- Dragging a toy or anything similar behind while walking
- Starting to run
- Putting up a toy or any other objects while squatting
- Standing on tiptoe
- Climbing up and down furniture like a bed without any assistance
- Walking up and down stairs while using hands to hold on for support
- Can run easily
- Kick a ball
- Climb steps easily
- Paddle tricycles
- Can run and bend without losing balance
- Begin to walk up the stairs by altering two feet
- Walk up and down the stairs without any external support
- Hop and balance on one foot for five seconds without any support
- Throw balls using their hands
- Catch a bouncing ball with their hands
- Move backward and forward easily while walking
- Hop forwards without falling
- Hopping backward, forward, and sideways
- Running properly with long turns
- Standing on one leg or on tiptoes for a long duration
- Climbing and swinging
- Spinning in circles
- Turning somersaults
Activities to Boost Gross Motor Skills Among Young Children
Gross motor skills activities involve physical movements that help to improve muscle strength and coordination between bones, muscles, and the nervous system. Good coordination between bones, muscles, and the nervous system is essential for accurate gross motor skill development. Without proper gross motor control, a child may be unable to move or do their regular tasks independently. So, as a parent, you must teach your child different gross motor skills activities to help them acquire good motor control.
Here are some effective gross motor activity ideas to boost gross skill development in your baby:
1. Play with Balls
Playing with balls is one of the popular gross motor skills activities for kids, especially for kids between 0-1 years. The best part is that you can help them in this gross motor physical activity and encourage them to do well. Also, most kids love to play with balls, so engaging them in the activity is quite easy. You can do many things with the ball to train your baby.
For example, you can teach your child to throw balls in the air or at any object. You can also line up plastic cups, encourage them to roll the ball, and hit those lined-up items. Such activities with balls can help to improve the gross motor skills related to the hands and upper body. You can also teach them to kick the ball with their legs to train the lower limb motor controls.
2. Play with a Large Cardboard Box
Playing with cardboard boxes is also one of the popular gross motor skills activities. It is simple, easy, and highly beneficial for kids between 0 to 1 years old. Also, playing with cardboard boxes is a versatile game that can be used in various ways to promote gross motor control in babies. You can set the cardboard box as a tunnel and encourage your child to crawl through the space using hands and knees. It will boost their hand and leg movements and help them achieve the crawling milestone.
You can also use the cardboard box as a basket and ask your kid to climb in and out. Kids of this age find climbing interesting naturally and tend to climb the furniture or any other tall object. Giving them a cardboard climbing box can effectively boost their gross motor controls; you do not have to worry about their safety. In addition, you can even use this box to encourage your kid to throw their toys in it. This will also help them to gain proper hand movements.
3. Pushing and Pulling Wheeled Toys
There are many gross motor skills activities you can use to train your child, and pushing and pulling wheeled toys is one among them. It is a great gross motor activity for kids between 1-2 years old. Kids at this age can also play with balls and cardboard boxes to improve their motor controls, but this pushing-pulling game will add new excitement to their playing.
Give your kid a wheeled toy, such as an alligator or horse, and encourage them to push or pull the toy to play with it. When they push or pull it for playing, they will learn and practice using their hands and moving them back and forth without losing the grip. Also, allow them to drag the toy behind them to strengthen the bone and muscles of their arm and leg.
4. Give them Small Ride-on Toys
Playing with small ride-on toys is also a popular gross motor skill activity involving riding on a wheeled toy like a toy bike or toy car. It is also suitable for kids between 1 and 2 years old and helps them practice their gross motor controls.
You can gift them a tricycle that they can ride. Ask your kid to sit on the ride-on toy and pull or push it to make them enjoy it. Now, tell them to use their legs to push or pull to take the toy backward/forward and enjoy the ride. It will improve their back-and-forth movements and lower body movement.
5. Throwing the Ball at a Target
Kids like to play with balls and do not get bored easily. Thus, using balls to throw at a fixed target can be one of the finest activities to develop gross motor skills. It will help your kid to practice their gross motor skills, and they will also enjoy the game very much. Throwing the ball at a target is especially helpful for kids between 2-3 years old, as it lets them use their hands properly.
Give your kid a target, like a soft toy or plastic poll, and ask them to throw a ball and knock it off. They will love to throw balls and enjoy the game without forcing them much.
6. Teach them to Ride a Tricycle
Riding a tricycle is a great way to improve their gross motor controls if you are looking for advanced gross motor skills activities for kids between 2-3 years. Kids at this age tend to be more curious and energetic, and learning tricycle can feed their curiosity and help them work on balance.
When you teach them to ride tricycles, they learn to paddle and move forward while balancing the cycle. It helps them to improve their balance and brain and body coordination.
7. Hop Like a Bunny
Some kids love to jump around the house naturally. However, if your kid is not much into it, you can set up a game to encourage them to do it. Hop Like a Bunny is a jumping game under gross motor skills activities. It is a great way to help your kids to enhance their gross motor controls, especially for the legs and lower body parts.
Also, it is easy to organise, draw shapes or place cardboard cutouts on the floor as a target. Now, ask your kid to hop from one target to another, either to the rhythm of the music or sing a rhyme for them. This activity is primarily helpful for kids within 3-4 years, but younger ones can also attempt it.
8. Dance on Nursery Rhymes
Dancing to the rhythm of nursery songs is a part of gross motor skills activities for toddlers. It is ideal for kids around 3-4 years old. Dancing to the rhythm helps the kid to control their limbs and other body parts, such as the head, neck, and back, and creates coordination between the brain and body.
Play a nursery song and show your kid some easy moves. Motivate them to join you, and they will soon imitate you.
9. Walk on the Line
When you look for gross motor skills activities for your toddler, what other gross motor activities can you think of? If you are too confused, do not worry. Here is another crucial gross motor physical activity you can try for kids between 4-5 years. Walking on the line significantly improves your kid’s balance and enhances gross motor control.
You draw a line on the floor or use a balancing beam and assist your kid in walking in a straight line. Hold their hand for support. And once they learn how to do it, let them do it alone and observe from a distance. When your kid practices this game, they will eventually improve their body balance and independently walk, run, and perform everyday tasks related to balancing.
10. Spell Your Name
Spell your name is also one of the popular gross motor skills activities for kids between 4-5 years old. It is quite similar to hopping like a bunny. But in this game, your bunny will hop on their name letters one by one instead of shapes. Use alphabet-written pillows or write different alphabets on cardboard cutouts and place them on the floor. Now, ask your child to jump on their name’s alphabet individually. First, assist them in identifying the target alphabet to jump on. Once they get accustomed to the game, let them figure out the alphabet independently.
Using name letters instead of shapes adds a new level to the jumping game, and you can train your child’s brain while practicing their gross motor skills.
Gross motor skills activities are essential to boost your baby’s physical development and help them to move independently. Gross motor activities such as climbing, crawling, jumping, and riding wheeled toys enable kids to control their limb movement, achieve balance and perform basic physical movements. Some examples of basic physical movements are holding or throwing things, walking, running, and bending without external support.
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