The first year of development

The first year of a child’s life is a period of incredible growth and development. During this time, infants undergo significant changes in their gross motor skills, which involve the coordination of large muscle groups. Understanding the general motor development milestones that your child will go through can help you track their progress and provide appropriate support. Here, we will explore the key milestones you can expect your little one to achieve during their first year of life.

Birth to 3 Months

The first three months of a child’s life are characterised by reflexive movements and the early stages of intentional control. At birth, infants have reflexes that are vital for survival and adaptation to their environment. Over the initial weeks, they gradually gain more control over their movements.

Here are the typical gross motor milestones observed during this period:

  1. Spontaneous arm and leg movements.
  2. Head lag when pulled to a sitting position.
  3. Attempts to lift their head briefly when placed on their tummy.
  4. Brings hands to face and mouth.
  5. Grasps and holds onto objects placed in their hands.

3 to 6 Months

Between three and six months, your baby’s gross motor skills will continue to evolve. They will start to gain more control over their body movements and exhibit increased intentionality.

During this stage, expect the following milestones:

  1. Rolling from their back to their side.
  2. Supporting their upper body weight while lying on their tummy.
  3. Pushing up on their arms and raising their chest off the ground during tummy time.
  4. Reaching for and grasping objects with both hands.
  5. Transferring objects from one hand to the other.

6 to 9 Months

From six to nine months, your little one will become more mobile and exploratory. They will develop the ability to sit independently, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities for their physical exploration.

Key milestones to observe during this period include:

  1. Sitting without support and playing with toys in a seated position.
  2. Rocking back and forth on their hands and knees, preparing for crawling.
  3. Starting to crawl or use alternative methods of mobility, such as scooting or rolling.
  4. Pulling themselves up to stand while holding onto furniture.
  5. Picking up objects using a pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger).
  6. Banging and shaking objects to explore their properties.

9 to 12 Months

The final stretch of the first year is marked by significant strides in gross motor skills. Your baby will continue to explore their surroundings with increased curiosity and confidence.

During this time, you can expect the following milestones:

  1. Crawling with more proficiency and speed.
  2. Cruising along furniture while holding on for support.
  3. Taking their first independent steps or attempting to walk with assistance.
  4. Standing without support for brief periods.
  5. Transferring objects from one hand to the other with greater precision.
  6. Trying to feed themselves with finger foods.

As a parent or caregiver, you play a crucial role in nurturing your child’s gross motor development. Providing a safe and stimulating environment, engaging in tummy time and playtime, and offering appropriate toys and activities can support their physical growth. Remember to celebrate each milestone achieved and encourage your child along their unique developmental path.

It’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace, and there can be slight variations in reaching these milestones. However, if you have concerns about your child’s gross motor development or notice significant delays, consulting a paediatric physiotherapist or healthcare professional is recommended.

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