Motor development in childhood is crucial to understand to help baby explore her world. It is a part of developmental milestones in children. As your baby has already mastered the art of grasping and using her both hands simultaneously by now, you will notice a lot more advanced versions of previous activities between the ages of 7-9 months.
Let’s look into the motor development in childhood in more details vis-a-vis what your little one is up to in making her moves more clear and prompt. She will be busy exploring the world to the fullest. Make her learn and use her motor skills to understand the details of what is happening in her environment for her complete development.
We will look into:
- Motor development at 7 months
- Motor development at 8 months
- Motor development at 9 months
- When to call the doctor in case you notice an anomaly in baby’s movement
- Activities to boost the developmental milestones
Motor development : 7 month baby milestones
- Crawling- Now that your baby has achieved the skill of being in tummy down and back position so easily, she is ready for another significant motor development in childhood, crawling. She will try to push up the upper body and chest portion, making the legs move forward with the help of knees. Pushing the knees against the floor, she will take steps to move ahead with alternate hand and leg approach. Also note, that some kids totally skip the stage of crawling and move on straight to standing and walking. So, if your child is not a crawl-er, it may not be of concern. She is still meeting her developmental milestones.
- Rolling- As your baby can start to crawl now, she can change her body position back and forth. She will enjoy rolling over and over again. She will try to hold her legs with hands making an arch of the spine and start rolling, when lying on her back.
One principle of development in infancy is that it proceeds from head-to-toe — thus, arm movement comes before leg movement.Chris Plauche Johnson, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, The University of Texas Health Sciences Center
- Dragging– During tummy time, she will try to drag her body to reach an object that she is attracted to. Make sure there are no harmful objects placed on the surface she is lying on.
- Scooting- Now there is another significant yet visibly funny motor development in childhood that you may notice in your little one. When placed in sitting position, your 7 month old baby will try to slide to another place without moving her legs, but with the help of her buttock and pelvis. This is known as scooting as is an essential marker in assessing the developmental milestones of babies.
- Sitting- As she can now sit independently, keeping her arms forward for support, she has achieved the developmental milestone, otherwise known as the ‘tripod or truly sitting with support.’ Usually, children at this age can sit upright unassisted. To do so, they need minimal assistance. But remember, as every child is unique, development in case of each baby will also differ.
- Grasping– As she has developed the milestone of holding objects in her hand, she will catch hold of the objects on her ulnar aspect (side of the little finger) of hands. She will transfer objects from one hand to the other. She can very well now hold a cup of tea or a spoon sometimes. Due to the ability of hand to mouth coordination, she can pick up a piece of biscuit and try to bring it into her mouth.
- Getting ready to walk- Some curious babies will try to pull up themselves against some furniture and will try to stand up and get ready to walk. This is also known a cruising. Many children may take one more month to achieve this developmental milestone of standing up, but do not worry as they need to gain strength for this development, and they will do it by themselves.
- Play some music, mom! Ah, now that sounds a bit exciting. Yes, almost 70-80 percent of children love music and start grooving on the tunes. You can play some soft music or rhymes that excite your baby. She will rock back and forth, may swing her hands in the air, will smile and try to respond to the tune, which will evidently stimulate the motor development found in childhood.
- Raking Movements- You must have noticed that sometimes your child uses all her fingers together in picking up something kept nearby. She uses an open palm like a claw as if scratching the floor, or some object, to get a grip. This helps in bringing the object closer to her and is referred to as raking movement.
- Clapping– Now your little cutie pie can bring both her hands together, to clap more freely. Clap with her so that she enjoys the sound and tries to do it all by herself.
- Pincer grip- The pincer grip can set in by the end of 6th month in some tiny ones. And for many others, they will need the stimulation. Place some tiny objects in front of them, and let them try and reach and pick the object.
- Twisting and turning- When placed on a pram or your lap, your baby will move her trunk to either side in search of any sound coming around or looking for you in your absence. She can easily move her head from left to right and vice versa. She can reach out to anything present on the opposite side of the body by turning towards it.
When to consult the doctor
- If rolling, dragging and scooting is difficult for her or she has not yet started any of these by this time.
- When you offer he an object and she is not able to hold it or her grip is not firm but jerky.
- If she is not able to respond to any sound or music by moving her hands and legs.
- You may want to check with the doctor if you notice that she is unable to move her trunk on either side.
Motor development : 8 month baby milestones
With an 8-month-old baby, you can find more refined versions of the activities which were found in 7th month.
- Steady sitting- Unassisted steady sitting without support is a significant motor development in childhood that is generally noticed around 8 months. The baby sits in an upright posture comfortably without holding on to anything and without falling either forwards or sideways.
- Crawling- Study says the majority of children gain strength on their knees by this time to start crawling profoundly. Some children may not have started doing it, but they’ll keep trying. Also, some children may not crawl at all and straight move to cruising or walking.
- Shuffling on bottoms- She shuffles on her buttock every time she tries to sit. She might slide in this position when moving from one position to another.
- Grasp- Grasping with the radial (thumb side) side of the hand is another example of motor development in childhood, that you may notice in your baby at this stage. So now she has more range and degrees of movement at the wrist joint. Hence, you can see her performing hand to mouth movement frequently. Some will be able to hold the sippy cup or bottle on her own with one hand or both.
- Slithering- During tummy time, you may find her slithering on her tummy to move forward. She finds it amusing and may love repeating it!
- Rolling- She starts experimenting with her body. So, rolling over, again and again , on her tummy or on her back, twisting and turning can be a part of her regular play.
- Pincer grasp- She starts to show more defined pincer grasp with specific finger use either on the ulnar or radial side of the hand.
- Standing with support- Many energetic babies pull themselves up against some furniture to stand. They will start cruising soon too which is using the furniture as a support to move a step here and there.
When to consult the doctor
- If you notice that the baby does not still have coordination in movement.
- Wobbling on knees when trying to crawl.
- If the baby is not able to sit yet.
Motor development : 9 month baby milestones
- Perfect Crawl- Now that your baby has started crawling like a pro, she will love to roam around the house from one room to another. She will also be able to hold a toy in one hand and move forward along with it. The baby is now able to balance her body in the quadruped position, which is crucial for the motor development in childhood. She can crawl over uneven surfaces, move up on the staircase and come back.
- Change of position- She can change her body position from crawling to sitting to moving back to the starting position. Even sitting down back from standing will come easily to her, though more often than not it will be a direct fall that a smooth sitting down.
- Cruising- She can now sit without support, pull over to stand by any furniture and start walking. This phenomenon is called as cruising. It is the preparatory phase for walking.
Researchers agree that, cruising has some influence on walking as it helps in strengthening leg muscles, increases sensitivity towards balance information, facilitates inter-limb coordination, and motivates a higher vantage point.Barela, Jeka, & Clark, 1999; Haehl, et al., 2000; Vereijken & Albers, 1998; Vereijken & Waardenburg, 1996
- Pincer grip- It is more defined now and she can pick up objects as small as puffed rice or a raisin.
- Transferring objects– Your baby can hold toys in one hand and reach out for another without losing balance. She will use her both hands to explore toys around and transfer toys from one hand to another. Transferring objects from one hand to other in a coordinated manner is also quite easy for her now. She can pick up an object from standing position by bending forward without falling over.
When to consult the doctor
- If your baby is not able to stand with the help of anything.
- When she is unable to figure out where the toys are and does not make any move in spite of repeated encouragements.
- Lack of coordination in movements.
- If she is not able to hold anything with pincer grip.
- Inability to change position by herself.
- If she needs support in crawling or sitting.
Activities to boost motor development in children at 7 months
- Place the child on her back. Move a rattle in all directions in front of her. Move it back and forth and let her practice tummy time. Repeat this for 5-6 times. This will strengthen her back muscles and help boost motor development in children.
- During tummy time, you also come down to quadruped position (on all four limbs), act like crawling, and encourage her to do the same.
- Play music and dance in front of her. She will definitely try to imitate you.
- Place objects on each side of her body and prop her up to catch them with opposite hands. This enhances turning and twisting movement.
- Clap as often as your can. Frequent clapping promotes ambidextrous activity.
- Place small colourful toys or papers in front of her. Let her pick these with pincer grasp. But it should be done under supervision so that the baby does not take things to her mouth.
2% children progress from pivoting to sitting up, to shuffling, and to standing and walking. They may not get down to crawling or not crawl much.Michigan State University, Michigan
Activities to boost motor development in children at 8 months
- Place the baby in the bathtub. Using baby soap or wash, make small bubbles, and let them float in the air. She will try to catch them all by stretching her hands upward. This improves strength in arms.Also, allow her to splash water with both hands. You can do it along with her. She will enjoy playing with you. The resistance from water improves the motor functionalities of her hands. You can also watch a detailed video here for a variation of the same exercise.
- Join some cardboard boxes back to back, making a little tunnel for your baby. Now place a toy at one end of the tunnel. Ask her to get the toy by moving into the tunnel which is a fun way to boost motor development in childhood. Remember, the boxes must be of a size so that the baby can move in and out easily. A fun, playful way to boost motor development in children.
- Place some pillows and cushions on the floor. Draw her attention and let her crawl all over them. The soft hurdles from pillows will give stimulus to her knees to balance on uneven surfaces.
- Noodles and sprouts to hold! Let her sit in a comfortable position. Place a bowl with some boiled noodles and another bowl with boiled sprouts. She will be fascinated by the colour of the food items to hold them. The pincer grip will allow her to hold the food pieces with fingers. It is also safe if she take them into the mouth.
- Place more than one toy at different corners of a room. When your little one is on knees, show her the toys and let her reach out to them.
Activities to boost motor development in children at 9 months
- Place some toys inside a big box or bucket. Tell her to pick up the toys from the box by herself. She will either pull the box down or will try to stand to reach the toys.
- Keep a musical toy on your sofa. When the baby is around, play the music. Show her from where it is coming. Encourage her to bring it. She will try to stand up from the sitting position by pulling against the furniture.
- Place some toys of various colours and shapes on the floor. Spread out a big bed sheet over them. Now play the ‘find it’ game with her. Open one end of the bed sheet and let her find as many toys as she can.
- Take a medium size ball. Sit on one end of a room, and make the baby sit at the other end. Now roll the ball gently towards her. Observe if she pushes it back to you. Encourage her to reach out to the ball if it goes in another direction.
- Playing puzzle games is an extremely effective way to encourage motor development in childhood. Placing correct pieces in blanks stimulates both fine as well as gross motor skills. Besides motor development it also helps in enhancing your baby’s cognitive development.
- Get some blocks of different shapes. Pile them up on each other, making a tower. Let her observe you and repeat it.
- Play drums. Take the drum sticks and bang it on the disc, producing music. Let her do it. This fun game will improve the coordination of her hands.
This is also the time to baby-proof your house since the little explorer is learning fast and moving faster. Stow away all pieces of unsteady furniture and breakable pieces. Give the baby space to explore. This is important to boost motor development in children. Also, remember that no two babies are same in their development or will achieve their developmental milestones exactly at the same time, so even if yours is behind schedule, don’t stress. Babies eventually catch up. These developmental milestones are more of a guidelines to help you keep your baby on track.