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Enouraging your baby to reach for things that force them to extend their arms up and using their torso odevelops large muscle groups and hand eye coordination. Find a toy or hold something interesting for your child to reach up for suction toys are great for this because they can keep trying to reach for the stationary toy that is out of reach.

It's never too early to help develop your baby's gross motor skills. Helping your child build skills that will expand and strengthen their development will only help them hit milestones sooner.

Although, through infancy it may not be obvious that your baby is developing major muscle groups to help support them through the next phases in development, in reality they are.

Early on, your child is developing many gross motor skills by working on lifting their heads and doing lots of tummy time... this strengthens small and large muscle groups that your baby will need to support them while learning to sit, crawl and eventually walk.

As they naturally strengthen these basic muscle groups it prepares them for the next phases where they can use larger muscle groups to start developing in new an exciting ways.

What are gross motor skills?

Gross motors skills are physical skills that require your whole body for movement. They are movements you need your core strength developed for. Babies and children develop these skills over time. Helping your child develop balance, hand eye coordination and large muscle groups in arms and legs at a young age will set a strong foundation for your baby and help strengthen them for necessary development through toddlerhood.

Many of the following gross motor skills for babies are meant for the 12-15 month age group however you can adapt these concepts to start introducing these exercises earlier and building upon the underlying sensory activities.

1. Encouraging your baby to push and pull

Sit on the floor facing your baby, and gently push different objects back and forth encouraging your baby to push the item back to you. If your little one doesn't sit up well yet, you can try doing this by holding them in your lap and guiding your childs hand into the push motion, making it a fun game.

Same for pulling an object, either push and pull objects back and forth or find different objects of different weights and focus just on pulling in different exercise "sessions".

2. Reaching up high

Encouraging your baby to reach for things that force them to extend their arms up and using their torso to extend further reaching for the toy. This extension reach develops large muscle groups and hand eye coordination. Find a toy or hold something interesting for your child to reach up for suction toys are great for this because they can keep trying to reach for the stationary toy that is just out of reach.

3. Discover an empty box

Whether it be an empty diaper box or a couple of larger moving boxes, cut that box open creating a tunnel for your baby to crawl through and discover inside the cool "cave" that it creates.

If your baby is moving on their own then crawling and discovering this cool new enviornment will develop those strong legs and arms as your baby enjoys moving in and out of be box playing with various toys or sensory objects.

4. Roll round objects back and forth

This is another fun way to work on those gross motor skills - find many balls of different sizes and colors, and have fun rolling the objects around the room. Let your baby see what happens when items roll back and forth and watch them get excited to catch those balls that get away. We even let our son roll a big exercise ball and he was so excited about its size that he had so much fun rolling, pushing and even attempting to climb it at one point.

5. Baby dance party

Play your favorite tunes and have a dance party if your baby can sit up on their own this will be a bunch of fun. Dance with your child on the floor moving your hands and head and bobbing to the music. This is a fun way to give your baby a "full body workout" developing all those large and small muscle groups in their body as they either imitate your moves or try out their own dance moves.

6. Laundry basket, basketball

Encourage your little one to throw soft toys or rolled up socks into an empty shallow laundry basket. Depending on the age of your baby don't expect them to grasp what a slam dunk is, but every time your baby gets it in the basket you can excitedly encourage them to do more, making it exciting and fun for them to see your reaction every time they thow it.

I used to do this with my oldest son when he was around a year old, although I gave it a little twist and every time he thew the sock ball I would make a different face sometimes happy, or silly which would make him crack up laughing every time!

7. Bouncy Baby

Bouncing exercises will help develop your baby's balance and coordination. Sit your baby on your lap and hold them by the hands or support your child as needed and gently bounce your child on your lap, this will help strengthen your baby's whole body even though it is a light and playful exercise. Your baby's body is working to stabilize and balance itself from head to toe as the both of you bounce and move around playfully.

8. Blow Bubbles

This is a fun sensory activity, that works those full body muscles as you child sits in a comfortable location or in a bouncer, and gently blow bubbles around them getting them to reach and play as the bubbles fly around them. This helps develop hand eye coordination and is an enjoyable activity and cool sensory experience as the bubbles land on their hands and body.

9. Lift Ups

One of my favorite things to do when I was home with my littles are lift ups. This was right before my babies were ready to walk I would hold their hands and gently pull them up in a way that also encouraged them to use their legs to support themselves (I'd say if your little one is jumping in a jumper pretty enthusiastically they'd be ready for something like this). This really worked on strengthening their legs and arms and encouraged my boys to start pulling themselves up independently on the couch or a chair.

10. Hitting a Xylaphone

This is a great hand eye coordination exercise, and it couldn't really get simpler- let your baby hit a xylophone, even if they aren't really hitting it in any intentional way, the noises it makes will encourage them to continue to hit the instrument. This is another exercise that's good for hand eye coordination but will also help them understand reaction on a very basic level - they hit something and a sound bounces back... they hit again in a different way or spot and they get another sound. You can also expand on this and make it more fun by playing different musical instruments like adding a drum and keyboard to create multiple cool sensory experiences with sound.

Gross motor skills are often ignored in early child development but they are so important in creating better balance and coordination that will allow larger physical skills beyond walking to manifest throughout their childhood. So let us know in the comments what your favorite activities are with your little one.

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