By Tamara Jalajel, Children’s Physiotherapist

Not meeting developmental milestones within the age range isn’t necessarily a sign that your child has a delay. If it turns out your child does, however, getting support early may help your child catch up more quickly.

A mother noticed that her eight-month-old child could not lift his head up when being placed on his tummy and started to cry to get out from this position. This  mother found it challenging to teach the child rolling over to his tummy, and to sit independently on the floor. When the child turned one, the child could  only stand with support, continued to fall down when losing balance from a sitting position and could not crawl or roll over to move around and reach for toys.

The above example underscores the importance of picking up on early signs of delay and seeking professional advice early on.  This chart demonstrates key gross motor skills for the first two years of age.

The benefits of getting help early

  • Boosting brain development, especially in the first two years of age
  • Improving basic gross motor skills in order to acquire complex ones. For example, performing mini push-ups (holding up their heads and chests by supporting themselves on their elbows) will prepare the child to crawl on hands and knees
  • Inhibiting further gross motor development delay
  • Preventing the delay of other development milestones such as cognitive, communication and social skills. For instance, children learn through movement so if your child is not able to move around his environment, he won’t be able to explore his surroundings and to learn from his mistakes
  • Preventing psychological issues for your child in the future. When a child notices that she or he has gross motor delay, they will avoid physical demanding games with their peers and this will result in poor self-esteem

Often, parents are advised to wait and be patient before seeking professional help. The problem with this approach is that a delay in one gross motor skill causes another delay. Yes, we want to be patient with our children in acquiring a skill but what if they don’t? What if we can provide appropriate stimulation early on?

Some parents prefer to work on their children on their own without seeking help from experts. This is perfectly fine. However, working with a team of experts can help you figure out if you’re on the right path. Experts offer advice and design an individualised plan with you to reach the best outcome for your child.

What are gross motor skills
These are physical skills that require whole body movement and which involve the large core stabilising muscles of the body to perform everyday functions, such as standing, walking, running and sitting upright. It also includes eye-hand coordination, such as throwing, catching and kicking a ball

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