Look who’s moving! Gross motor skills

Look who’s moving! Gross motor skills
Controlling her head, rolling over, sitting, crawling: gross motor skills depend on the strength of major muscles, but also on the brain, which must become increasingly mature to send the right messages to these muscles.

Controlling her head, rolling over, sitting, crawling: gross motor skills depend on the strength of major muscles, but also on the brain, which must become increasingly mature to send the right messages to these muscles.

Each area of the brain develops according to a sequence that starts with the head and ends at the fingers and toes. “Brain development begins in the area that controls head and neck movement, then the one that governs arms and torso movement, and lastly, the one that controls leg movement,” explains Patrick Major.

Your baby should be able to control her head (around 4 months) before being able to sit (between about 7 to 9 months), and walk (between about 11 and 18 months). Next, body control will gradually spread to the very tips of her fingers.

The “on-all-fours crawl.”? Approximately 8 % of newborns begin crawling on all fours before the 5-month mark and 6 %, after 10 months. Between 9 and 12 months, most babies are able to get around effectively on all fours. Others never do, as they discover other ways to get around (on their tummies, in a seated position using their hands, etc.).

Games to help your baby along

Your baby enjoys…

  • Following you with her eyes or following a mirror that intrigues her and prompts her to turn her head in different directions, even if she won’t recognize herself much before 15 months old. (From 1 week)
  • Being placed on her tummy when awake. This motivates her to lift her head (for 1 second at the beginning) to strengthen her neck muscles, and later, to roll over and crawl towards her toys, for example. (From 1 month)
Most babies learn to walk between about 12 and 15 months, with boys being a little slower to start than girls. At 18 months, most toddlers walk confidently, without falling.
  • Being pulled by her hands to a seated position, with her head well supported for the first 2 or 3 months.
  • Trying to roll towards you or a toy that is just out of reach, first from her tummy onto her back (around 4 months), then from her back onto her tummy (around 6 months).
  • Gently bouncing on your knees, sometimes raising herself up onto her legs. (From 6 months)
  • Sitting with your help (from 6 months) and trying to reach toys that are near her. When she stretches out an arm and supports herself on the other one to get the toy, she has reached the first milestone towards walking on all fours (around 7 or 8 months). If she’s on her tummy, this will also prompt her to crawl (from 6 months).
  • Climbing over obstacles, whether you (lying on the floor) or a mountain of cushions, especially if she’s trying to reach a toy at the same time. (From 9 months)
  • Learning to stand, but also landing gently on her bum (from 10 months). Provide your baby with low surfaces that present no risk of injury, such as a low table on which she can hold herself. Then teach her to sit by gently bending her knees. She’ll soon understand how to move her feet.
 Babies placed flat on their tummies can learn to turn onto their backs towards the end of their 3rd month. Approximately a third manage this. At 6 months old, over 90 % of babies use this manoeuver to move around. Others never do, and go straight to crawling and then sitting.