Activities to Boost Gross Motor Development: An Age-by-Age Approach: Birth to Age 5

“Gross motor skills” are needed to control the movement and coordination of the larger muscles found in the arms, legs, and torso.

The following activities can help you boost gross motor development in your child from birth to age 5.

Birth to Age 1

  • Give your baby brief tummy time sessions to help strengthen neck and back muscles.
  • While your baby is on his tummy, get his attention by holding colorful toys or making noise.
  • Begin putting graspable objects in your baby’s hand. Gently pull, teaching your baby to start pulling back and building muscle.
  • Start putting your baby in a supported sitting position to learn how to sit up.
  • Roll a large ball to your baby. At first, he won’t do much, but he will eventually learn to push it back in your direction.
  • Put toys just out of your baby’s reach to encourage him to begin scooting or crawling.
  • You can also hold toys in front of your child to encourage him to reach for them.
  • When your baby is ready, start gently pulling him to a standing position to prepare for walking.

Age 1 to Age 2

  • Start teaching your child to throw and kick a ball.
  • Let your child help with chores like putting clothes in the laundry basket, picking up toys, etc.
  • Try to give your child at least an hour of physical activity daily (or almost daily).
  • Buy child-sized brooms, shovels, or other tools for your child to play with.
  • Let your child make music with spoons, pots and pans, or other “musical” objects.
  • Teach your child to jump up and down on two feet.
  • If you have stairs, allow your child to walk up and down the stairs holding your hand.
  • Play pretend: fly like an airplane, hop like a bunny rabbit, etc.
  • Chase and pop bubbles.

Age 3 to Age 4

  • Practice balancing on one foot.
  • Have jumping contests to see how far you can jump.
  • Play catch, soccer, basketball, and other games that encourage coordination.
  • Play on playground equipment like ladders and swings.
  • Jump or walk backwards.
  • Roll and run down hills.
  • Start teaching your child to ride a tricycle.
  • Play hopscotch and hula hoop.
  • Walk on a balance beam or try “balancing” on a line of tape.

Age 5

  • Climb trees or jungle gyms (while safely supervised).
  • Begin working on more advanced gross motor activities, like skating or swimming.
  • Jump rope. Try using fun jump rope rhymes.
  • Jump down from various heights.
  • Start catching and throwing with smaller balls, like a baseball.
  • Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt or navigate an outdoor obstacle course.

These easy, fun activities can help boost your child’s gross motor development!

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