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Once babies begin to hold and grab things around them, you know their motor skills are developing. Sometimes though, some babies need to be encouraged to practise holding toys, for example. Motor skills refer to the baby’s ability to make motions and movements. They are classified as Fine Motor Skills and Gross Motor Skills. Building these two skills appropriately means meeting important growth-and-development milestones in babies. This article will help you understand the types of motor skills and how and when they develop.
What Are Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skills are small movements made by a baby and involve relatively smaller muscles of your baby’s body. A baby, wrapping his fingers around the finger of a parent, a baby holding and picking up small objects, or a baby trying to move his lips and tongue to ingest food or taste something are also examples of fine motor skills.
What Are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills are those movements made by a baby which are larger and involve the movements of the larger muscles of your baby’s body. A baby moving his arms to reach for a toy, a baby trying to sit upright, crawl or roll, all require the baby to move the larger muscles of the arms, legs, shoulders and torso, and are, therefore, classified as gross motor skills.
Now that we understand how these motor skills help babies, let’s take a look at how parents can help their babies develop them.
Fine and Gross Motor Skills Development Activities
Fine motor activities are those activities that aid and assist the development of fine motor skills in children and babies. These activities focus on improving hand-eye coordination by focusing on more precise and delicate movement involving the use of smaller muscle sets. One of the easiest activities is to give a child a handful of modelling clay. When a child starts playing with the modelling clay, he will squeeze the dough or try to roll or shape it using his fingers and will develop fine motor skills.
Gross motor activities are those activities that aid and assist in the development of gross motor skills in children and babies. These activities focus on improving the movements of larger muscle sets by engaging in activities that involve larger movements. Some activities that help develop gross motor skills include setting up an object as a target and encouraging the child to hit it by throwing softballs at it.
We have categorised activities according to certain age groups for your convenience.
1. Babies and Toddlers
- Babies that are 2-4 months old develop the grasp reflex and should be given small objects that they can hold in their hands. Ensure the objects are not so small that they can be swallowed unknowingly. It might take some time for the baby to hold the object, but eventually, he will grasp it involuntarily.
- Between the ages of 4-8 months, babies should be encouraged to play with small objects. They would now transfer objects from one hand to the other, easily pick up medium-sized objects and can also put them in their mouths or pull them out of containers. To avoid choking hazards, you must avoid any small object that can be swallowed accidentally.
- At 7-9 months of age, babies have an improved ability to reach forward and sidewards. They should be encouraged to reach for small objects by placing them at a small distance from the baby. Babies can also now place objects in containers and should be encouraged with activities that involve the same.
- By 12 months of age, babies should be encouraged with activities that involve pointing and poking. Also, activities involving picking up crayons and other slender objects as babies are now learning to use their thumbs.
- By the time they are eighteen months, babies can hold crayons and activities like drawing and colouring should be encouraged.
2. Preschoolers or Kindergarten
A few gross and fine motor activities for preschoolers are listed below:
- More activities involving drawing and colouring should be encouraged.
- Kids should be encouraged to use the spoon while eating.
- Should be taught to put on and take off shoes and socks.
- Should be encouraged to indulge in activities that involve the stacking of large objects.
- Although still difficult, a child can be taught to string beads.
- Playing with modelling clay should be encouraged.
- Can be taught to cut paper using scissors.
- Games involving the throwing of balls should be initiated.
- Should be taught to draw vertical and horizontal lines.
- Should be encouraged to dress and change clothes independently.
Fine Vs. Gross Motor skills
- Gross motor skills involve the use of larger muscle sets for larger movements, activities, like sitting, crawling, rolling. Fine motor skills involve the use of small muscle sets for smaller, more delicate movements, grasping, picking up small objects are examples of fine motor skills.
- Gross, as well as fine motor skills, start developing during infancy (by 4 months of age). Grasping of toys, transferring of objects, and pincer grasp are some examples of fine motor skills that develop with the gross motor skills.
- Both gross and fine motor skills can be developed by indulging the baby in some activity or games.
Gross and fine motor skills are essential for your baby’s growth and development. While motor skills develop naturally, it is still advisable for parents to monitor their child’s development. Some activities, including playtime activities and games, can be used to develop both fine and gross motor skills. If certain motor skills are slow to develop, some activities can speed up their development. Remember that each child has his own pace of growth and development. If you see a delay in your little one’s development, you need not worry. Instead, consult a paediatrician, who can help you with better ways to bring about the development even if it is slightly delayed.
Also Read: Physical Development In Children