Motor Development in the first Year

Motor development is the development associated with voluntary activities pertaining to muscle movements and are usually taken place during the first and second year of the life. Developing these skills will require gradual progression and achieving one milestone will facilitate the other. According to the complexity as well as most importantly the type of muscle group involved, the motor development can be categorized as ‘gross motor development’ and ‘fine motor development’.

When considering the gross motor development, it is possible to notice a developmental progression from top to bottom. Meaning, the control being achieved from head to toe. In practical terms, babies will first gain the head control before they start walking or running.

Some of the gross motor skills and the milestone ages are described below.

Head control: The earliest motor development milestone in a baby would be the gaining of head control and it will allow the baby to balance the head on its body. It usually occurs around the 3rd month and it allows the baby to move the head towards stimuli and lift the chin while in a prone position. Reaching for objects and hand to mouth movements: At 5 months of age, the baby would be able to reach for objects and even grasp them. The objects which were grasped can be taken to the mouth with slight difficulty. Transfer of objects from hand to hand: usually occurs at 6 months of age. Prone to supine body movements : 6 months Pulls to sitting position and can sit with support: 6 months Sitting unsupported and crawl : 6 – 9 months Standing by holding on to objects or chairs: this usually occurs at around 1 year and could vary from child to child. Usually the walking takes place after the 1st year but in certain instances the babies would be able to make few steps even before the 1st year.

Similarly, there can be many fine motor developments taking place during the first year as well. Some of these developments would be,

Palmer grasp : This usually occurs at the age of 5 months and the baby would be able to grasp the object entirely by its palms. Pincer grasp: Picking up objects by using the fingers are considered as pincer grasp and would develop throughout the ages from 9 – 10 months. Hand to mouth coordination: This also is a milestone in the development of coordination activities and plays an important part in the process of further fine motor development. The occurrence, as mentioned earlier, is at the age of 5 months.

Although different time periods have been identified for different milestones, these can change from baby to baby and it is possible that some babies would move to a more advance developmental level by skipping in-between steps.