Gross motor (physical) skills require whole body movement and involve the large (core stabilising) muscles of the body to perform everyday functions. This includes activities such as standing, walking, running, and sitting upright. It also includes eye-hand coordination skills such as ball skills (throwing, catching, and kicking).
It is really special watching your baby/toddler learn, practise and become experts in Gross Motor Skills. These skills are part of everyday functioning but there are fun games and activities that we can do with our little ones too so they accomplish these skills at their milestones and can get the most out of active times and interacting with others.
Fun ideas for under 1 year olds
- Practice Sitting – Prop your child up with pillows behind them and on soft flooring, place a few toys between their legs and either side of their legs to get them to reach for them and balance. Or you can prop them up under their play gym and have their toys hanging at eye level. This encourages them to look up and play.
- Bath time – Allow them to sit unsupported, but have your arm behind them to catch them if they fall backwards. Allow them to wobble a bit so that they can use their core to stabalise.
- Balls – Roll balls past them to get them to try and crawl after the ball. Place some balls on a mat and get your child to push the ball and chase after it.
- Bubbles – blow bubbles for your baby to chase after
- Obstacle Course – lay down and be an obstacle for your child to crawl on top of to get a toy off your stomach. Place objects around the house like an obstacle course for your baby to navigate through.
- Standing practice – support your baby under their arms and let them put their feet on a firm surface and lock their knees. They may like to bounce too. Let them pull themselves up on low sturdy furniture. Hang toys around the furniture to encourage them to pull themselves up. Let them hold onto your fingers and pull themselves to a standing position from sitting.
- Walking Practice – Place a toy on an object such as the sofa, and move it around the sofa so that your child shuffles along trying to catch it. Have one person hold your child in a standing position whilst you stand in front of them. Encourage them to step towards you. At first catch them after one step, then move further away.
- Circle of toys – place toys in a circle around your child and varying distances (some easy, some more difficult). As they reach and roll you can start moving toys further and further away.
The Newborn Gift Box range has some wonderful options for stimulating gross motor development in infants.
Good Ideas for Over 1 year olds
- Ball Games – encompass all the gross motor skills pretty much. Get throwing and catching with them shouting our numbers at the same time? Have a game of soccer or roll the ball between your legs to each other. So much fun at any age of your child.
- Old School Skipping – once your little one is 2 ½ or 3 years old get them playing with the skipping rope. It is a great game to really test your gross motor skills along with coordination. Jumping in time, whilst counting will really give them a fun challenge. As they say the old games are the best!
- Allow plenty of physical freedom. riding bikes, ball games, swimming lessons, climbing playgrounds, running and jumping. Playing team sports is a great idea for 3 and 4 year olds if you can find somewhere offering them.
Make a jumping obstacle in your backyard. Place different sized items in the yard and they have to jump over them. You can get them to run or tiptoe between them. You could also place a wide piece of wood on the ground between the boxes that they have to walk along.
At playground, you can get your child to sand on edge and jump forward into the sand almost like long jump. You can make a game out of it and put a marker where they land.
Hopscotch: Start off with allowing your child to jump into all the boxes with both feet. Once they are able to do this tell them a number they are not allowed to jump in. Still allow them to jump with two feet. Once have they are able to do this comfortably challenge them to try to hop one leg in each box.
Catching ball: Start with a ball that is about size of a soccer ball or netball and is soft. Ask your child to hold their arms out and get ready to catch the ball. Throw the ball up into the air so it falls softly in their arms. Continue this until they get hang of it and then you can start throwing the ball gently to their chest.
Our Get Active Gift Box is just perfect to test out those Gross Motor Skills along with coordination. Great for 3+ years.