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  • Writer's pictureHeather Gibson PT

Gross Motor Development in Infants and Children

A child's gross motor development is tracked by your physician or paediatrician in order to determine if there are any delays. If any delays are present, a paediatric physiotherapist can help a child or infant in maximizing skills needed to meet those milestones. Sometimes certain "patterns" of movement are missing or there is weakness in certain muscles causing the delay. Sometimes there are conditions that are associated with the delay but often there is not. A paediatric physiotherapist can also do a thorough assessment to determine why the milestones aren't being achieved as expected.

The physiotherapist will often do exercises or movements with the child to help improve strength, endurance, balance, proprioception and overall function.

Babies develop from head to toe. They first develop the strength in their head and neck and then move down the body to the trunk and learn how to sit. Then it moves out from there to the shoulders, and upper and lower extremities. Why are gross motor skills important? They help us learn more complex skills as the child gets older in order to dress themselves, feed themselves, navigate playgrounds or play a team sport.

Here is a quick check list to evaluate your little ones progress:

birth to 2 months:

-pulling a baby up from lying position, the head will lag back

-kick legs and moves arms equally left and right sides

-on tummy, baby can lift head up and turn both ways

-turns head both directions while lying on their back

3-4 months:

-can tuck chin in when pulling baby up from lying by their arms

-rolls from belly to back

-starts to push up on arms and turning head side to side, may start to weight shift side to side

4-6 months:

-rolls from back to belly

-brings feet to mouth lying on their back

-pushes up through hands on their belly and reaches out for toys

-can spin in a circle on their belly

6-9 months:

-can sit independently and arms come out to catch their fall side to side

-crawls on belly or may start to crawl on hands and knees (this is important for developing core strength)

9-12 months:

-crawls on hands and knees

-walks with hands held

-pulls up to standing

-can transition from a lying position to a sitting up position

12-16 months

-walks independently

-gets up to a standing position without holding onto furniture

-can squat down to play and stand up again

16-18 months

-walks upstairs with help or holding railing

-can kick a ball forward

These guidelines are there to help parents keep track of development and seek help if they pick up any delays. Each skill is important for building on another. Early intervention is important because each skill is a building block that is necessary to build on another skill. Babies also learn by repetition so repeating exercises often is essential. Please give me call or email me if you have any questions or want to book an assessment.

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