Since we talked about the first year of gross motor development—first lifting of the head through walking—we should take up a discussion on the activities that parents may or may not be doing that helps support gross motor development.
Here is the disclaimer—babies will be driven to complete these developmental tasks whether or not you provide a supportive environment for this development. However, knowing that there is a developmental sequence, parents may want to provide a good environment for learning the current task rather than pushing a baby to achieve, as an example, walking before the child is actively moving about by crawling or creeping.
In the first months, as the baby strengthens his head, neck, and upper body, the best activities are on the floor in a safe location with things that are interesting for the baby to look at. (Remember—you are the most interesting thing for your baby to look at!) Other objects that babies go for are colorful toys and toys that they love to put into their mouths.
Next, as the motivation increases to reach the toy, you can place it just a teeny-tiny bit away. Maybe close enough for baby’s fingertips to feel the toy. Soon, as the front half of baby has gained strength to push his chest off of the floor, the back half will try to catch up, pushing and twisting to give forward momentum.
As baby begins to pull himself to standing, you can place toys on the sofa next to you, encouraging baby to take those first tentative steps cruising around a sturdy piece of furniture.
The last stage is letting go of your hand or sofa, and moving out onto the wider arena. There’s no holding back now!
Climbing up the ladder
Look at me!
I’m at the top of the apple tree.
I’m picking apples,
One, two, three.
Now the tree is bare as it can be.
Pantomime climbing a ladder
Point proudly to self
Point up high
Pantomime picking 3 apples