You are here

Helping your baby develop motor skills can have a life-long impact

baby on tummy

Whether you’re a new mother or mother of many, parenting can be overwhelming. When it comes to your baby’s growth and development, nothing is more important than taking steps to develop his or her motor skills.

Motor skills help your baby perform important everyday tasks; some studies even show babies' motor skills can predict everything from their handwriting to future successes. 

"Your baby should be using both their right and left sides equally," says Via Christi pediatrician Amy Seery, MD. “If you notice your infant prefers to use one side more than another, this should be discussed with your baby’s physician. Hand dominance should only start to appear around 18 months to 2 years old."

Here’s a few other simple tips for helping improve your baby’s motor skills and development:

  • Tummy time. Since the launch of the Safe to Sleep campaign, which recommends placing babies on their backs when sleeping to reduce SIDS, the importance of tummy time has been top-of-mind for experts. Providing tummy time while your baby is awake discourages flat spots on his or her head and helps develop neck, trunk and shoulders strength.
     
  • Switch it up. Changing your baby’s position throughout the day can strengthen the muscles needed for balance, and help them move intentionally. Place your baby on his or her side or in a baby-wearing carrier for increased head control.
     
  • Get on your baby’s level. Get on the floor and play with your baby. Playing with and gripping toys like blocks and balls, and even getting creative with your hand motions during Pat-a-Cake can help refine your baby’s motor skills.
     
  • Wake up on the right side of the bed. Alternate the direction your baby is sleeping in the crib. When awake, your baby will be looking different directions and alternating muscle use, building strength throughout the body.

For more information about infant care and development, go to viachristi.org/newlife.

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Via Christi Health.