Mother and Baby

Your Baby’s Motor Skills: From Birth To 12 Weeks

You want your baby to reach every motor milestone and you’ll find he’ll get there a lot sooner with your help

Considering he’s so little, your baby develops at a pretty astonishing rate in the first three months.

And this is definitely the case when it comes to his motor skills – that is, how he’s able to control his muscles and body to do different actions.

Most things happen naturally with time, but you can still start decoding his different movements and help him along.

What to look out for

Your baby is born with reflexes so he can survive outside your womb – you’ll notice he can suck, swallow and root for food when he’s hungry. He can also grip your finger (with a surprisingly strong grasp!) and may be able to place his feet on a firm surface if you hold him upright.

‘As his neck muscles strengthen, his head and upper body (or trunk) control will improve,’ says consultant paediatrician Dr Martin Ward-Platt. ‘It’s the foundation for all motor development. His physical progress starts with head control, moves down his upper body, then lower limbs.’

Help his motor skills develop

You can start introducing tummy time by lying your baby on his front on a soft mat. This is the first step towards your little one pushing himself up and eventually crawling. 

Keep him amused during tummy time by placing a bright toy in front of him

Try five minutes every day from week one, although if your baby’s umbilical stump is still attached, you may want to wait a little longer – just see if he finds it comfortable.

Keep him amused during tummy time by placing a bright toy in front of him. If he doesn’t like it, he may be hungry or full, so alternatively, try resting his tummy on a large exercise ball and rocking the ball gently. He’ll love the motion.

Using a prop is a great way to help strengthen your baby’s neck muscles.  From around three months – or whenever he starting to show signs of slight head and neck control – try propping him up on a rolled towel or nursing pillow, making sure that it’s under his chest and his arms are in front of it.

In time he’ll learn to raise himself up on his forearms with no assistance and then you can remove the prop and let him advance without it.

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