Mother and Baby

Your Baby’s Gross Motor Skills: From Seven To 12 Months

From sitting up to crawling, get ready for some exciting milestones in your baby’s physical development, as he’s about to learn lots of new skills

Think you’re clever because you’ve finally figured out how to fold a buggy with one hand? Check out what you’re baby’s been up to.

The months in the run up to your baby’s first birthday are the ones to have your camera at the ready. She’s developing fast and using her newfound motor skills to explore as much of the world around her as possible.

Although babies develop at different rates and it’s important to let yours progress in her own time, there’s still plenty you can do to help her along. And, no, that doesn’t make you a pushy mother. Promise.

Your baby sitting up

At first, your baby will learn to sit up as her neck and trunk muscles strengthen. For this phase, prop her up with pillows to limit wobbles and put her favourite toys beside her to encourage her to turn.


Next will probably come crawling – essentially when she learns to balance on her hands and knees and then push off to move around.

‘Crawling coaches the opposite sides of the body to work together, and trains hand-eye coordination, which is useful later on for tasks such as feeding herself,’ says child development expert Sally Goddard Blythe.

To aid crawling when the time comes, lay your baby over a cushion, so her knees and hands are on the floor. You can also place a favourite toy (or even dad!) just out of reach to encourage her to crawl towards it.

Pulling herself up

Keen for a better view of the world, you’ll probably find your baby hanging onto the furniture next as she pulls herself up to stand. Strength in her upper and lower body is needed, along with coordination.

She’ll also use these skills for cruising – the side-stepping motion she makes while holding onto the sofa for support, which strengthens her leg muscles.

For the cruising stage, line a row of chairs against the wall, then place your baby at one end and her favourite toy at the other, so she’s tempted to cruise.

The first step

Your baby’s first steps are the exciting culmination to all the skills she’s learnt up until now. While the average age for first steps is around 13 months, it can happen as early as nine or as late as 18 months.

To encourage her, let your baby go barefoot indoors.

‘Being barefoot makes it easier for her to grip the floor,’ says Sally. ‘Each milestone is important, so let her go at his own pace.’

Once she’s got her walking/waddling skills sorted though, you will need to buy her that first pair of shoes.


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