One of the major milestones of child development is the appearance of motor skills. Generally large muscle (gross motor) skills develop first with small muscle (fine motor) skills following later. While every child is different here are some milestones in the development of motor skills. Any parent who is concerned with their baby’s development should consult their pediatrician. Here is simply a roadmap of possible development and some activities that can be done to help foster motor skills.
· 0 to 3 months-The baby’s hand can curl into a fist that instinctively holds onto objects that are thrust into her palm. At two months, the grasp will be less reflexive and more controlled. At three months, the palm is weakly open, but with little strength to grip objects. Hand your baby small rattles and other toys to help promote grasp.
· 4 to 6 months-At four months, your baby will enjoy sucking her own hands. When she is about a month older, she will have progressed to sucking her feet and grasping objects between both hands. At about six months, she may hold objects between finger and thumb and be able to rotate her wrist. Giving your baby small toys and mirrors (childproof of course) will help strengthen her grasp and help her begin developing motor skills.
By six months, your baby will be able to grasp things.
· 7 to 9 months-In her seventh month, the baby’s finger thumb grip develops and she may be able to simultaneously grip objects in both hands. At eight months, the baby develops the pincer grip that helps to gain access to smaller objects. In the ninth month, the baby uses her index finger to probe objects and openings. More complicated objects with a variety of textures will delight your baby at this stage.
· 10 to 12 months-By the time she is ten months old, your baby should be able to hold more than one object within her hand. In the eleventh month, she will be able to hold crayons and give and take objects with others. After twelve months, the baby’s coordination becomes more acute day by day and she should be able to feed herself some foods. Your baby will be able to roll a ball across the floor and hand over objects on demand. This is the time to introduce coloring to your baby. While they may not at first put crayon to paper, they will be highly interested in the process.
· Baby’s first birthday-By the time your baby reaches her first birthday balance and coordination are mastered and fine movements are learned. The baby will be able to hold two objects in one hand and make marks with a pencil and may attempt to take her shoes off. Coloring will become a priority and adults may struggle to convince baby only to color on the offered paper.
· 15 to 20 months-Your baby’s motor skills will be on daily display as by this time, the baby can dexterously build a tower of bricks, can flip the pages of a book and becomes skilled at manipulating food. Many child development experts recommend introducing coloring and pre-writing skills at this age as most babies are fascinated by the color, movement and spatial abilities of writing and coloring.
· 21 to 24 months-Once your baby reaches this age she will be able to unscrew lids and twist doorknobs. She may begin to enjoy washing her hands and love playing in water. Child development experts recommend introducing sensory experiences to your baby to help further develop motor skills. Besides coloring, finger painting, puzzles and playing in sand or shaving cream may all be activities that your baby enjoys and helps her gain even more developed motor skills.