At times, knowing what is appropriate or right at any stage of our child’s development can be tricky but there are ways to understand how they work. So, I will explain the basics of the infant to toddler motor development and how it evolves as they grow.
What Is Motor Development?
According to Steven Bachrach, MD; motor development starts at the newborn stage, their response is involuntary as they react to their environment reflexively.
As they grow they develop certain skills which are called developmental milestones. Which simply put are those things every baby does at a stage in their life. For example, rolling over or sitting up; amongst others.
Motor Development: Skills & Developmental Milestones
The rate of development of every child is unique and different, as no child is the same.
It starts at the head and moves down to neck, torso and arms, and legs.
For example, a newborn will move his or her head and as they grow they begin turning their head towards noise, rolling onto their tummy, and eventually begin to crawl as they gain strength in their arms and legs.
The 4 Major Types of Motor Skills
- Gross: Large muscles ( sitting, cradling, and walking) Typically within their first year of life.
- Fine: Small Muscles ( hands + fingers, for picking up an object, eating and getting dressed)
- Language: Communication ( verbal + non-verbal)
- Social: Interactions with others.
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Tools That Aid In Motor Development
Gross & Fine Motor Skills
Whenever I felt my daughter needed additional stimulations I used a few different tools for her motor skill development, mostly focusing on Gross and Fine Motor Skills.
So I will start with the one I used from 5 months up to today (16 months).
My daughter loves it, learned right away.
- Designed to fit baby’s mouth and hands
- Soft silicone protects baby’s developing teeth
- The non-slip silicone grip makes movements to the mouth more successful
- Interior angle provides even flow for safe drinking
- Weighted base and tactile bumps provide topple resistance
- Safe to use with cold, warm and hot foods and liquids
Next is my go-to daily use products for food and drink that I still use.
Anything from Munchkin pretty much I have at home. From their soft-tipped utensils to their plates and sippy cups!
I have a favorite and that would be the Might Grip Sippy Cup, it has this small groove in the middle that fits my daughter’s hand perfectly and it makes it easy to hold.
In my opinion, it is breastfeeding friendly as it has a soft tip and so far, she hasn’t once bitten me when we nurse.
Language Motor Skills: Verbal & Non-Verbal
When we think of Language Motor Skills, we automatically think: How quick can I make my little one talk? But that is just the tip of the ice beer.
I am in no way trained in child development but like most of you, I am a very observant mom and experiment all the time with my little girl. I try things and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. One thing I have noticed is that children are perfectly crafted thinking machines and also great at mimicking behavior. What they see, they copy. I know you’ve seen this over and over.
It’s human behavior and that is something I think I understand the basics which are all you need to help your little one along the way. We know language skills are the understanding of the meaning of words as well as how to say them which will aid in communication with others.
When teaching toddlers words we must not only say the word but also refer it to something tangible as it will stimulate their senses. I often find myself saying the word I’m trying to teach about ten times while pointing to the object that represents said a word. I may do it once or twice a day or once or twice a week.
It is nothing crazy, I’m simply trying to stimulate communication.
My 16-month-old daughter understands everything I say to her as it pertains to her daily life: Milk, Boobie, Poop, Pee, Water, Grapes, Strawberries, Banana, Eat, Bath, Sleep, Let’s go…
All the previously mentioned are verbal skills she has developed… I do NOT compare my child to anyone else. Your child grows and learns at their own pace. You just worry about doing your best and that is all that matters.
Some kids may be more ahead and others behind but it doesn’t matter to me, what matters is that your little one learns and understands.
For the Non-Verbal Language Skills, I would say these are in a weird way, the easiest and simplest ones. The reasoning behind this is that it’s instinctual.
When your little one reaches out to you, he or she knows you will pick him or her up. When they point to something they want you to know what it is. This is non-verbal communication and it progressed much faster than verbal. If you want to get your child to talk, the easiest way is by talking to them all of the time.
This is the number one mistake many parents make. They want their child to talk but they are not very verbal themselves.
“The brain makes the most connections among its cells before your child turns 10. This is also the time when he learns language best. When you use rich language with your young child, you are improving his future vocabulary.” Scholastic
I can only share what I have experience but I can tell you that I talk to my toddler ALL DAY. I describe what I’m doing, I share my plans for the day with her, I tell her things about our surroundings.
Sometimes she answers back in gibberish and I continue talking to her. It feels like a one-sided conversation but inside their little head, the wheels are turning.
“The rate and quality of language development are more sensitive to the infant’s environment than other parts of the development. Infants acquire language only through interaction with responsive people in their environment. TV and radio have little to no effect on language learning.” Steven Bachrach, MD
Social Motor Skills
Social Development is constantly evolving as our little ones grow. They typically will feel most comfortable with parents and other family members but may be cautious and shy away from strangers.
This is a skill even us as adults struggle with, we may be ‘people person’ or not. It constantly evolves. I know I was painfully shy when I was young and around seventeen to eighteen I became a social butterfly.
Final Thoughts On Infant To Toddler Motor Development
Although every child develops and grows at their own rate, it is beneficial to provide them with tools that will help them gain those motor skills. These tools are simply an aid as it stimulates the learning of the skills and also helps develop strength in the gross and fine motor skills.
The human brain is amazing at making connections and stimulating understanding, children particularly connect dots faster than we do.
Have you used a tool that has improved your child’s motor skills? Share it, in the comment section below.
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