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How to Stimulate Gross Motor Skills in Infants

A baby's first year is filled with an awe-inspiring array of gross motor changes. Those include movements of the large muscle groups that make it possible for him to sit up unassisted, crawl and walking. Even though these abilities develop on their own, a parent can lend a hand to help a baby get control of these motion skills.

Newborns and Necks

A newborn will seem floppy and unable to hold her head high. Around the 2-month mark, a baby should be able to steady her head a bit. Place her on her stomach around that time says the American Academy of Pediatrics on its HealthyChildren.org website. When she's alert, she'll be forced to hold her head up to look around. That act alone will help strengthen the neck muscles.

Mid-Year Movement

From 4 to 7 months old, the baby should be using more of his large muscle groups. He should be holding his head up on his own, using his arms to push his chest up during tummy time, rolling over and even sitting, according to the AAP. During this time help him sit up, and support his back with a pillow or soft piece of furniture.

RELATED: Sensing Baby's Senses and Early Motor Skills

Older Infants

Between 8 and 12 months, the curious baby will want to explore her environment by scooting, crawling, standing up and possibly walking, according to the KidsHealth website. Instead of handing everything to her, put a favorite toy out of reach. This encourages her to crawl to it. If she's ready to stand, let her get around while holding on to soft furniture such as your couch.

Holding Hands

The legs should be ready to walk as the baby turns one. Hold his hand when he tries to stand up to encourage walking writes social worker Angela Oswalt of Aroostook Mental Health Services in Maine. It's a steadying action, but it doesn't give the child the full support he gets from leaning on the furniture. Gradually let go of the baby's hand, which will encourage him to walk completely on his own when he's ready.

RELATED: Infant Stimulating Activities

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