Make sure your child is meeting important developmental milestones — and learn how to recognize the warning signs of developmental delay.
During a child’s early years, it’s crucial that parents keep close tabs on motor skill development. Those skills fall under two categories: gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills include big movements like climbing and jumping, and involve large muscle groups. Fine motor skills include smaller movements, like grasping, or following objects with eyes.
According to Physical Therapist Jessica Prothero, both fine and gross motor skills are equally important. “Parents tend to notice gross motor skills more,” she said. “But fine motor skills are just as critical because they indicate cognitive development.”
When asked how parents can encourage motor skill development in their infant children, Prothero responded with two words: tummy time. “It’s how children learn to belly crawl, and eventually it leads to crawling and walking,” she said. “Tummy time also helps prevent neck muscle tightness and the development of flatness on one side of the head.
‘When children begin walking, parents should pay close attention to their technique,” Prothero added. Some children tend to walk on their tiptoes — a habit known as idiopathic toe walking. “It’s a fairly common in toddlers, and if it persists, it can cause calf muscle tightness and gross motor delay.”
Prothero also warns against “W-sitting”— when a child sits on his or her legs splayed out to the side, making a “W” shape. “It can negatively impact their knee and hip joint development, so we discourage it as much as we can.”
Even if your child seems to be developing normally, Prothero recommends being proactive by encouraging a variety of activities in your children, from gymnastics to karate. And no matter what activity they choose, make sure they do it for at least 60 minutes a day. “Children need to move,” she said. “It’s the very best thing for a developing child.”
If you think your child needs help with a developmental issue, or just have a question about motor skill development call 317-415-9135 for more information. St.Vincent Pediatric Physical Therapy is located at St.Vincent Medical Center Northeast in Suite 309.