It is exasperating and at the same time very saddening to know that, while other moms are raving on and on about how their little angels have started to walk and feed themselves and developed gross motor skills, your little angel does not show any signs of accomplishing either of the above.
But do not get disheartened as there is a time for everything; some children tend to start walking rather quickly as compared to others. It is normal, but if there is a considerable delay in your child’s walking and feeding abilities, then rest assured that there are ways to speed up the process to compensate for the lost time.
Read on to find out how you can encourage and support your child to develop his/her gross motor skills and gross motor abilities
What is Normal Gross Motor Skill and Gross Motor Abilities in Children?
There are certain indicators which are used by pediatricians in order to measure and get an idea of how infants are physically emerging. Though these indicators can be different depending on the physical development of each individual baby, there are certain time frames in which each baby develops his gross motor abilities.
Some babies start to take their first steps in life at the age of 9 months while some start walking at the age of 14 months. This should not at all be alarming. According to research done on the subject, babies generally at the age of 5 months, start to crack a smile, manage to do rollovers and their curiosity for reaching for things is developed.
At the age of 9 months, babies normally develop the ability to grasp small things with their index finger and thumb. Some kids at the age of 8 months do not require parental supervision when sitting anywhere. By the age of 10 months they are able to stand up on their own and finally at the age of 14 months they exhibit the ability to walk.
Some children display two skills at once, for instance gross motor skills and speaking skills. Though some children tend to walk and talk at the same time from an early age this is not the case for everybody. Some babies might try to work hard in order to develop one skill, for example talking, and may involuntarily disregard learning other abilities such as walking or grabbing little things. They tend to try and master one ability first before they tackle the other one, this is natural and nothing to worry about.
What Are Some of the Reasons for Delay in Gross Motor Skills Developing?
Most kids are quite cautious; they want to be sure about doing something before even trying to attempt it.
For instance, most kids might think that if they climb up a chair, will they be able to get back down. Most kids just want to be sure that they will be safe before attempting that first hesitant step.
Whether it is talking, crawling or walking, some babies will always think about safety before trying to become experienced in any first time activity.
When talking about strength it will be best if you think up of anybody in your family who is an athlete or a music player; specifically gifted kids tend to exhibit their innate abilities at the age of 1. So if a child starts to develop speaking capabilities at a very tender age, he/she will most likely end up becoming a talented actor or writer.
Kids who develop walking abilities at an early age may become athletes. But remember that children who tend to blossom a bit later than normal can also equally achieve such capabilities at later stages. In no way should they be considered weaker than others.
Kids who have older brothers or sisters tend to achieve their goals sooner than expected because they look up to their siblings and try to rival them. So they try and try hard to keep up. But it could also mean the reverse, children who have older brothers or sisters also tend to develop their gross motor skills a bit late, for example if they let their older siblings help them with picking up stuff or feeding themselves.
Babies Body Type
Babies who are big in size might naturally face difficulties in trying to walk or crawl simply because of their weight. Babies who have big heads in comparison to their bodies also display a delayed response in gross motor skills.
Babies who are born prematurely also take a bit longer than others to develop gross motor skills. They usually accomplish their milestones by the age of 2. According to research, many pediatricians say that when observing a premature baby’s motor skill development the counting should start from the date the baby was supposed to be born, not the date he was actually born.
For example, if a baby is born 3 months before due then it should be anticipated that the baby’s motor skill development may be delayed by 3 months.
Ways to Administer Help
If you notice that your child is a bit behind schedule in displaying walking or talking abilities then do not be alarmed as there are plenty of things you can do to help the child attain his progress. First of all, you need to let your baby know that you will always be there for help.
Especially if the kid is extremely careful about how he goes about doing his thing. Offer him your hand and encourage him to hold on and to stay close by when attempting to walk. Praise him for a job well done. If your baby tries hard to do something, praise him and keep on encouraging him to do more.
Form a routine with your child, play with him more and scatter his favorite play toys around so that he manages to crawl and get them if he wants to play with them. Also make sure to feed your baby on time so that he starts to develop his gross motor skills along with muscles in his tiny arms and legs.
It is also important to provide your child with an energizing and invigorating environment in the house. Make sure that everything is safe when playing with your baby. Childproofing the areas where a baby can easily move around and grab stuff randomly without the risk of getting hurt does wonders for developing gross motor skills.
There are many educational toys that will help with developing cognitive skills in children, and there are baby play toys as well. But, first just observe your kid when he’s playing with regular stuff around the house such as an empty box, wooden spoons and etc.
Delay in Milestone
There is no need to panic if you see that your child has mastered one milestone but has not yet shown signs of accomplishing another. This probably means that he is a late bloomer; developing gross motor skills is a gradual process. Many babies even directly start walking before even attempting to crawl. Usually kids who display signs of delayed development physically also show various problems that they go through in controlling their body.
3-month olds show improper control of the head, weak posture of the body, limping, rigid limbs, bending the back and using only one side to crawl. Apart from these physical symptoms of poor gross motor skills you must also observe your child’s behavior, observe whether or not he smiles, or displays irritation to something or throws tantrums quite often.
Other symptoms include feeding difficulties by the age of 3 months. By 6 months of age a child may also develop problems including gagging, spitting food out and choking.
5 Early Warnings that Your Child May Experience Problems in Developing Gross Motor Skills
Thus far it is clear that babies have their own rate of development both physically and mentally. While some babies are faster at developing their gross motor skills, others tend to be a bit late.
However with this being said it will still be a good idea if you get an appointment with your pediatrician if you observe the following delays in motor skill development in your infant:
1- Your Baby has very little Muscles in his Limbs
Many babies develop what is known as hypotonia at the ages of 6 months. Hypotonia is a clinical condition in which a baby very slowly develops the muscles around his limbs and neck. Hypotonia is sometimes harmless and can be dealt with by administering proper care but other times this condition can lead to serious health difficulties such as muscular dystrophy.
Babies who have hypotonia will always tend to be soft and mushy as compared to the babies who are stiff and firm, this is due to the fact that the baby has very little muscles surrounding his limbs. Due to hypotonia babies may face difficulties like crawling, walking and running, which in turn would lead to poor development of gross motor skills in their tiny bodies. The best way to prevent this from happening is keeping the baby well nourished and physically fit.
2. The Baby is Rigid
Symptoms that are on an opposite extreme to that of hypotonia are also signs of delayed gross motor skills. Some babies feel unusually stiff and rigid when you touch them; the reason for this is another condition which babies tend to suffer from, called hypertonia.
When your baby’s muscles begin to shrink, it is an indication of hypertonia. Sometimes hypertonia is harmless and can be overcome by proper physical conditioning of the baby but other times it is considered to be a symptom leading to a disease called ‘Spastic Cerebral Palsy’ which causes serious delays in motor skills development in the baby.
3. Your Baby is taking far Longer to Walk than usual.
Though parents should be fairly concerned when they see that their baby is not walking when he should be, it is still no cause for panic. Babies have their own development process and take their time to do things. Some excel at this while others just slowly and gradually begin to stand up and walk.
There are many healthy babies who begin to walk when they are 18 months old. However it is still better to be safe than sorry, so schedule an appointment with your pediatrician every now and then.
4. Half of your Baby’s Body is Strongly Favored than the Other Half
It is normal for babies to favor their right hands and not their left. This normally begins to happen after your baby’s first and or second birthday. You may have noticed why many people are right handed and some are left handed. This tendency is formed at the very early stages of infancy when the child is just a couple of years old.
However if you notice that your baby is favoring one part of his body over the other from a very early age, before he is even 1, then your baby may have condition known as hemiplegia. Hemiplegia causes considerable gross motor skills weaknesses in the body’s one half.
5. Your Baby is losing his Gross Motor Skills
If you notice that your baby is not doing as much crawling, sitting, waking or smiling as he used to some time ago then it is probably best that you get him evaluated by a pediatrician as soon as possible. These signs may mean that your baby is progressing very poorly in terms of his gross motor skills development and could be susceptible to fatal diseases such a brain tumors and cancers.
These diseases can harm the developmental process of the infant considerably, leaving him helpless when he starts to grow. It is crucial that you take your baby for monthly check ups to an expert pediatrician who can evaluate whether or not your baby is developing gross motor skills.
You need to be very careful when monitoring your baby and have to be mindful of any early symptoms pertaining to his motor development.