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  • You Got This! How To Nurture Your Baby's Motor Skills From Infancy

    Mastering motor skills will boost confidence and enable your child to become more independent.
    by R.M. Mauhay .
You Got This! How To Nurture Your Baby's Motor Skills From Infancy
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Sorapop Udomsri
  • The first five years of a child's life are crucial in the growth of the four main areas of development. These include development of motor skills (physical), communication and language, cognitive, and social and emotional skills. It's why proper guidance mut be provided as they go through these phases. 

    One of the important areas that needs proper development is a child's physical or motor skills, which serves as foundation to their ability to perform daily activities like eating, walking, and running.

    What is motor or physical development?

    Motor or physical development refers to a child's physical growth, which includes the strengthening of their bones and muscles, as well as their ability to perform tasks, like moving around and touching their surroundings.

    A child's motor development is divided in two categories: fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

    Fine motor skills refers to the fine and small movements that mainly involve the small muscles of our fingers, hands, wrists, arms, feet, lips, and tongue. Gross motor skills, on the other hand, involve larger motions and makes use of the whole body. It utilizes larger muscle movements to do more complex tasks like crawling, walking, or jumping.

    How are motor skills developed?

    The development of motor skills follow a predictable sequence, starting from the inner body (head, neck, arms, and legs) and then to the outer body (hands, feet, fingers, and toes). Your child will naturally develop their motor skills as they get used to their body and react to their surroundings.


    However, it is important that a child improves these skills because it affects development of other areas. That's why parents should guide them as they grow.

    For example, when a child hits the crawling and walking milestones, which are tied to gross motor skills, it will be easier for them to explore their environment. This can influence cognitive development. When they learn how to eat, drink, and speak, which are all tied to fine motor skills, they can improve social and emotional development.

    What are the stages of motor development?

    To monitor your child's development of motor skills, it's a must to know the different stages of motor development. Understanding them will help you identify where your child needs guidance throughout the process.

    Motor development has three stages. These are the Cognitive stage, Associative stage, and Autonomous stage.

    1. Cognitive stage

    The cognitive stage is where your baby starts to learn and process information in an attempt to understand the needs and requirements of motor movement. Expect that his movements will be rough since he still lacks body coordination to correctly execute the motion.

    It's crucial that you keep your attention and focus on guiding your child so they can slowly improve their movements and go on to the next stage. 

    2. Associative stage

    As your child learns "what to do" to accomplish a movement — for example, gaining more strength to raise his legs in preparation for walking — he'll now focus on "how to do" it. This is the associative stage.

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    During this period, encourage him to practice. At the start, your child may walk in small, choppy steps, and needing to hold your hands for support. As he learns to walk, he'll have more refined movements, like more controlled steps, and letting go of your hands so they can relax their arms on their sides.

    3. Autonomous stage

    By this time, your child already knows how to respond to their surroundings as their muscles remember what to do for a certain task. It means that they already know how to perform certain activities without needing instructions or guidance. Their whole body coordination has also improved so they can do tasks much faster.

    The reason why this is called the autonomous stage is because after all the practice that you did with them, your child can now respond independently with the right skill to do the activity required. 

    What age do motor skills develop?

    As every child is different, there is really no fixed schedule as to what age they develop their motor skills. Take for example how at 6 weeks old, there are babies who can already lift up their heads as they lie on their stomach, while some infants can take longer.

    By 3 months, there are babies who can lift up their chest from lying on their stomach using their arms as support. There are babies who can already roll over from their back to their stomach.

    Again, there is no definite timeline as to what age your child will develop their motor skills. However, it is important that you monitor and track your child’s growth and consult with your pediatrician to know whether you're on the right track for their healthy development.


    Click here for the different activities you can do to improve your child's motor skills.

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