One visible sign of development in a baby is in his motor skills during this first year – from having almost no control over his head, hand, leg and body movements at birth, to someone who may have taken his first step by the 12th month.
The enormous progress in physical maturity that occurs during this very short period in your baby’s life is visibly striking. And although some of these remarkable changes in your baby’s control over his movements seem to occur spontaneously, there is lots you can do to help (though you need to be patient with him).
Here are eight ways to boost your baby’s motor development in his first year.
Position him suitably
When he is a young baby, let him lie on his back, as this enables him to move his legs in the air
and flap his arms freely. In time, these limb movements will become stronger and more coordinated, but now he needs time to move any way he wants.
Stimulate his interest
He’ll make more effort to move from a static position if he sees something that grabs his attention and interest. That’s why you should place toys within his line of vision, such as a cot mobile hanging enticingly above him.
Play movement games
He loves those games in which you sit him on your knees facing you, while you gently
bounce him up and down. Try other movement games, such as softly swinging him from side to side while holding him firmly.
Use easy exercises
Let your baby lie on the floor. Engage his attention and put your index fingers out towards his hands so that he can grip them. Once you feel his hands locked around your fingers, raise them a few inches from the ground. He’ll hold on tightly to you.
Practise sitting and balancing
From the age of six months, seat him upright on the floor and place a range of attractive toys around him. Each time he reaches, grabs, places, turns and stretches, your baby improves his upper body movements as well as his balance.
Bear in mind that there are up to 14 different progressions that your child has to go through
before he can competently crawl. This means he needs plenty of opportunities, but there are no specific exercises you should do to hurry the process along.
Arrange standing practice
At around nine months, he won’t be walking yet on his own, but he will be able to support himself once he stands up. Each day, bring him to a standing position a couple of times and let him take his own weight by gripping on to a low table.
Use bath time for movement
Hold your baby steady in the bath (until he can sit on his own), then just let him wriggle and splash about. Allow an extra few minutes for this in his bathing routine so that he has this extra time to practise his movement skills.
While you’re boosting your baby’s development, remember that inquisitive, active infants have an amazing capacity to jam themselves into small, fascinating little places that you wouldn’t have expected them to even notice.
Move potential hazards where you can so that he doesn’t lose his confidence.