Gross Motor Skills Activities for Infants

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Gross motor skills influence a person's ability to run, walk, and jump. These skills begin to develop from birth so it's important to get babies off to a strong start right away. Let's look at some activities for building gross motor skills with infants.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor movements are actions that involve using the large muscles of the body. Moving and coordinating arms, legs, head, and core muscles all rely on gross motor skills, which in turn influences the ability to run, jump, walk, and sit.

Gross motor skills begin to develop the moment a child is born, and continue to develop throughout infancy and childhood. Parents and early intervention specialists can help children develop and strengthen their large body muscles through a variety of activities. Let's look at some ideas for different stages of infancy.

Gross Motor Skill Activities

The list below includes gross-motor skill activities for infants ages 0-12 months. These activities can be done in various settings with different adults. While early childhood educators can get ideas from this list, you are encouraged to share these suggestions with parents. Parents spend the most time with their baby, and implementing these strategies at home and throughout the day will help build muscle strength and coordination faster.

0-3 Months

  • Put the baby in different positions when she's awake (on her back, tummy, side, etc.). This allows the baby to practice moving their arms and legs in different directions.
  • Motivate the baby to try lifting her head to help strengthen neck muscles. Talking and making noises may help get her attention.

3-6 Months

  • Have the baby practice tummy time by placing them on their belly. You can show them toys to help them lift their head and begin reaching.
  • Help the baby sit up in your lap. You can play with toys, sing, or read books.
  • Help him start standing by holding him in a standing position. This will strengthen his legs and help him start to gain balance.

6-9 Months

  • Have the child practice reaching while standing. Get them into a standing position in front of a low table and put a small snack, pacifier, or toy in front of them. This will motivate them to reach while standing.
  • Put toys, pillows, and bins around on the floor in a large room. Encourage the baby to crawl or scoot around, exploring the different obstacles you've put in their way. You will notice that they learn to turn and pivot when they need to get around something.
  • Put the baby in a sitting position and give him some toys or a snack. This helps strengthen the core muscles because it forces them to balance.

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