If you have a young baby, COVID-19 may not be the only thing on your mind. Babies have a way of making everything about them, even in a pandemic! So for a slice of normal, physiotherapist Kym Haylen has some tips on gross motor development in the first year...
Upon becoming a parent, we are told about the importance of tummy time for our babies, but why?
Is it just another thing to remember to do?
Tummy time is vital because it allows our bodies to practice and gain antigravity strength and this is the foundation for many other movements.
Aside from the physical benefits, watching your baby learn to move can bring great joy and memories of their first year of life.
Gross motor development refers to the large movements we make with our whole body, which become a useful skill, such as walking.
The age ranges for acquiring these skills and for typical development are wide.
Below are four examples of fundamental gross motor skills and approximate age ranges at which a typically developing child with no medical issues would learn these skills:
- Rolling from back to tummy (three to six months)
- Independent sitting (five to nine months)
- Pulling up to stand using furniture to assist (seven to 12 months)
- Independent walking (eight to 18 months; even older can be "normal", but it would be wise to seek a medical opinion)
I have not included crawling; while this is an important milestone and the beginning of independent mobility, many typically developing babies don't crawl with a traditional style, or at all.
There are also many steps in between these big-ticket skills that your baby must master; learning to transition between positions can be just as involved as learning to sit or walk.
Playing with your baby on the floor is a great way to connect with them and monitor their development.
Even a few minutes of practice is a lot for young babies.
Try getting down beside them during tummy time, help initiate a roll from supine to side, or sit them between your legs and support their torso.
With such large variation in the "typical" range, most babies will eventually catch up to their peers.
But there are many conditions that may include a delay in gross motor skill development.
The Southern Highlands has physiotherapists that specialise in paediatric development in both the public and private health systems.
If you are concerned about your baby's acquisition of gross motor skills, please see your health professional and discuss whether a physiotherapy review may be indicated.