Developing Motor Skills in Early Childhood

The first years of a baby’s life are very important and valuable for general development and for motor development. During these early years the brain and its structure develop, and external stimuli have a big impact on this development.

What Does “Motor Skills” Mean?

Motor skills describe all the active and coordinated movements of the body that are controlled by the brain. This includes condition factors such as endurance and strength, and all the mobility and control of the body through coordination.

Motor skills are divided broadly into gross motor and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills include all the major movements of the body. Gross motor skills require stable muscles, body awareness, hand-eye coordination skills, balance and the senses of eyes, ears, and others. You can train gross motor skills through activities such as skipping, jumping, throwing, and climbing. Trips to the playground are great for promoting development of gross motor skills.

Fine motor skills refer to all fine, small movements with hands, fingers, toes, and feet. Fine motor skills are used for activities such as painting, kneading, and crafting. Good fine motor skills require visual perception and well-developed muscles.

How to support your baby’s motor development?

Every baby is different, and they all develop as individuals. For little ones to develop motor skills it is important to promote the interplay between active thinking and targeted action through natural play. Your little one needs to learn to look and listen carefully, they need to get a feel for their own body and to train hand-eye coordination. Babies initially learn to playfully grab smaller and smaller things whilst learning to move their heads and finally their entire body. To support your baby in this development you can repeatedly stimulate their sense of touch and balance.

The following applies to both little and large kids: the more opportunities and suggestions they have, the better they can train their motor skills. For older children it is great to have a play corner, trampoline, play gym and crafts. For little ones a blanket for tummy time is sufficient along with tickling, massage, and playful grabbing of toys.

How to support your little one’s development?

  1. Gentle touching, stroking and massage so your little one becomes aware of their body. They also get to know their muscles and how to use them in a targeted manner.
  2. Playfully encourage the senses in the first few weeks. Soft comforters, cuddly toys, visually exciting mobiles, and soothing music boxes are great! These will help with the development of the sense of touch and grasp as well as visual and hearing skills.
  3. To promote the development of the head, neck, and shoulder muscles, you can place your baby on their tummy. This way they learn to twist, roll and crawl faster. Be advised that your baby shouldn’t be left alone in this position and the duration of tummy time should only be slowly increased though.
  4. Age-appropriate toys such as marble runs, stacking animals, and cubes are another fantastic way for helping your little one develop motor skills. There are toys for all ages.
  5. Of course, you don’t have to buy toys. Little ones are just as happy to play with water, sand, leaves, cardboard, and many other things you will already have around the house and in nature.

Once your child can walk there is really no limit to the activities they can do to play and discover their world. Encourage active play and discovery as this all helps with developing motor skills and is great fun for the kids.

Enjoy exploring the world through the eyes of your child! It’s the most exciting time…