Your baby’s gross motor development will probably follow a predetermined trajectory from lying and playing on his back or tummy to rolling, sitting, crawling and finally standing. Kate Bailey, gives us wonderful ideas on how to develop the all-important stages of crawling and standing.
Fun activity ideas to encourage crawling:
- When baby is in a sitting position, place toys out of reach and to the sides of him. This will encourage him to reach over to the side which is how he will initiate crawling.
- Placing baby in tummy lying will build up strength in arms and shoulders and soon baby will be pushing up on straight arms, tucking his knees underneath his tummy, and moving into crawling.
- Place baby in a crawling position over your one leg. His knees and hands should be on the ground. Place a mirror, water mat or playgym in front of him to motivate him to stay in this position to practice taking weight on his arms.
- When baby is crawling, encourage lots of practice, by using rolling toys or balls for baby to follow and crawl after.
- Provide textured surfaces for baby to crawl over and a few low obstacles such as cushions and boxes, so baby can practice motor planning and developing strength.
The importance of crawling?
- Crawling allows your baby to explore his surroundings on his own.
- He learns about space as he explores under, over, around.
- Crawling teaches your baby about his own body in space. He will learn to judge distances and heights and then move his body appropriately.
- The crawling pattern uses both sides of the body, integrating and co-ordinating both sides of the brain.
- Crawling strengthens your baby’s shoulders, arms and hands as he bears weight through them.
Fun activity ideas to encourage standing:
- Provide surfaces for your baby to pull up against. The height of the surface should be approximately between her waist and chest height.
- Encourage your baby to stand against the side of the bath while you are undressing her.
- Place her standing inside a container that is stable and encourage her to take toys from inside and drop them out of the basket.
- Sit on the floor and allow baby to use you as a climbing frame, pulling up against you and standing on your legs.
- Place messy play activities on a low table and encourage your baby to stand against the table and explore the textures.
- Encourage baby to stand and hold the handle of a small trolley.
- Support baby in standing and encourage her to swipe and hit a balloon on a string.
Importance of standing:
- To keep her body upright, she develops the control of her trunk and hips.
- In supported standing, she experiences the feeling of her body weight on her feet. This strengthens the hips, knees and tummy muscles.
- As she reaches and shifts weight from one leg to the other, she practices balance.
- This position motivates your baby to start moving along the furniture and eventually into walking on her own.
By Kate Bailey, mother of three, Occupational Therapist and designer of the Moms and Babes program.