Turning On The Motor

Babies start their engines at the same time, but some may be crawling while others are tottering across the room. No matter what sped, they all cross the finish line

As any parent can attest, children grow at their own pace. Some babies walk at eight months, others start at fifteen months. Some speak at a year, others a few months later. The step-by-step graphics throughout this issue, like the one below, track an average child's development from zero to three. Please consider them a guide, not a dictum.

Primitive relexes dominate a newborn's movement. Place a nipple in his mouth and he will automatically suck. During the first year, reflexes fade and are replaced with intentional actions:

Moro reflex: When startled, throws arms and legs out and extends neck.

Walking/stepping reflex: When soles touch a flat surface, places one foot in front of the other.

Rooting: When stroked on cheek, turns head toward hand in search of food.

Tonic neck (fencing) reflex: When head is turned to one side, arm on same side straightens while the opposite arm bends.

Palmar grasp: When hand is stroked, immediately grabs finger.

Plantar grasp: When sole of foot is touched, foot flexes and toes curl.

Open a parenting book and you may feel you need a translator to understand what you're reading. A few key motor terms, deciphered:

Combat crawling: Uses only arms to push forward on stomach. Creeping: Moves on stomach by pushing with feet and steering with outstrectched arms.

Cruising: Walks while holding on to furniture.

Pincer grasp: Picks up objects with thumb and index finger.

Raking: Reaches out and grabs many objects.

0-2 months old

1 month old

Gross motor. Jerky movement smoothens as nervous system and muscle control improve. Most actions are reflexive, like sucking and bringing closed fists up to his mouth. Thrusts arms and legs. Head flops backward if unsupported.

2 months old

Fine motor. Opens and closes hands carefully. May hold object for a few moments.

Gross motor. Legs start to straighten from inward-curving new born position. Struggles to raise head. Some reflexes fade near month's end.

3-8 months old

3 months old

Fine motor. May swipe at dangling objects. Should move both arms equally well when lying on back.

Gross motor. Pushes down on legs when standing on firm surface. Learns to bounce. May raise head and chest when lying on stomach. Kicks gain force, as flexibility in hip and keee joints develop.

4 months old

Fine motor. Reaches with arms. Clenches rattle and puts it in mouth.

Gross motor. May learn how to shift weight from side to side and flip over. Upper body and arms strengthen; child may sit up with support. Often leans for balance.

5 months old

Fine motor. May swap object from hand to hand. May hold bottle.

Gross motor. Developng better control of trunk, head and neck. Raises head and holds it up while lying on stomach. May also rock like an airplane. Grabs feet and brings them to mouth when resting on back.

6 months old

Fine motor. Reaches out when sitting, often in a raking motion.

Gross motor. Rolls over in both directions. Maintains balance while sitting due to stronger abdominal and back muscles. May move forward on stomach, pushing with legs.

7 months old

Fine motor. Clasps hands and enjoys banging objects together. May grab for a toy with one hand.

Gross motor. Supports entire weight on legs; likes to bounce. Sits with light support from pillows. Pivots when sitting to reach objects. May get into sitting position by pushing up on arms.

8 months old

Fine motor. Learns to open fingers at will and drop or throw objects.

Gross motor. Coordination improves, and child may start to crawl, often pushing backward at first. Some babies scoot across the room on their bottoms instead of crawling.

9-16 months old

9 months old

Fine motor. Puts objects in containers then takes them out. May finger holes on a pegboard and enjoy toys with moving parts like wheels or levers.

Gross motor. Near the end of the first year, baby may begin to pull up on furniture and stand. Learns how to bend knees and sit down after standing.

10 months old

Fine motor. May hold crayon and try to scribble. Intrigued by tiny things.

Gross motor. May walk while holding on to furniture. May let go momentarily and stand without support. Sits confidently.

11 months old

Fine motor. Likes to turn pages, often not one by one. Fascinated by hinges and may swing door back and forth.

12 months old

Gross motor. Children walk at about their first birthday, although some start earlier or later. First steps will be shaky; stumbles, and an occasional bump, are very likely.

13 months old

Fine motor. Points with index finger. Accurately picks up small objects with thumb and index finger.

Gross motor. May walk with feet wide apart, toes pointing out. Uses arms for balance when walking.

14 months old

Fine motor. Holds two or three objects in one hand. Turns containers over to dump contents.

Gross motor. May stoop to pick up toy and carry it across the room.

15 months old

Fine motor. Builds small towers of blocks and then knocks them down.

Gross motor. Climbs stairs on hands and knees; descends by crawling and sliding. Pushes or pulls a toy while walking.

16 months old

Fine motor. Puts round peg into correct hole. Tries to fit things inside each other.

Gross motor. May try to kick ball but steps on it instead. Walks sideways and backwards. Quickens pace when excited or being chased.

17-24 months old

17 months old

Fine motor. May roll ball to others and pick up objects in motion. Throws balls. Drinks regularly from cup.

Gross motor. Has more control over stopping and turning when she walks. Likes to push carriage, rather than sit in it.

18 months old

Fine motor. Sorts many shapes and drops them in matching holes. Takes toy apart and puts it back together. Unzips zippers.

Gross motor. Keeps feet closer together when walking; gait becomes much smoother. May walk up stairs with parents.

19 months old

Fine motor. May stack three or four blocks. Loves to inspect new objects and places. Tries to climb out of bed. May take off socks and shoes.

Gross motor. Active and adventuresome throughout the day. Walks, climbs, trots and runs whenever possible.

20 months old

Fine motor. Throws ball overhand instead of tossing it.

Gross motor. May kick ball without falling or tripping. Likes to hang from bars by her hands. May climb onto an adult-size chair, pivot around and sit down. Running may look stiff; child may have trouble stopping and maneuvering corners while running. Tries to jump with both feet, but may not get off the ground.

21 months old

Fine motor. May turn pages one at a time. Enjoys finger painting and scribbling with big crayons. Loves to inspect tiny objects, especially bugs. Shows hand preference.

Gross motor. Looks down to dodge obstacles while walking. May walk up stairs, holding on to rail, both feet on one step.

22 months old

Fine motor. May put on shoes but often on the wrong foot. Tries to buckle car seat belt.

Gross motor. Alternates easily between walking and running, sitting and standing. Likes to be pushed on a swing and enjoys other playground activities.

23 months old

Fine motor. Likes to play with clay. May draw a crude circle if shown how.

Gross motor. Shows greater coordination in movement. Often runs rather than walks. Can seat self at table and climb into car seat on own. May throw ball into a basket.

24 months old

Gross motor. Moves with greater efficiency by end of second year. Child is sturdier on feet and less likely to fall. Some toddlers may walk up and down stairs by themselves; others may feel more comfortable crawling on steps. May enjoy dancing to music and learns how to move according to tempo.

2-3 years old

25-29 months old

Fine motor. Child learns to coordinate movements of his wrist, fingers and palm. May unscrew lids, turn knobs, unwrap paper.

Gross motor. Constantly on the move. Loves to be chased. Enjoys going down slides, swinging and running around playgrounds. May pedal small tricycle. Learns to walk on tiptoe and may be able to stand on one foot. May count stairs and jump off the final step. Jumping in place still takes great effort and coordination.

30-36 months old

Fine motor. Learns how to hold a pencil in writing position. Loves to draw with chalk and crayons. Imitates vertical and horizontal strokes, but may have difficulty making a cross with two lines. May use small scissors with parent supervision. Rotates jigsaw pieces and completes a simple puzzle. By the age of 3, child will have enough muscle coordination to play a simple musical instrument.

Gross motor. Walking becomes more adultlike with a heel-to-toe gait. Likes to try out new types of movement like galloping and trotting. May alternate feet when going up stairs. Capable of multiple actions when moving. May throw a ball while running or eat ice cream while walking. Bends over easily without falling. Kicks ball in an intended direction. May hit a baseball if it's placed on a stand. Pedals and steers a tricycle well.

A Workout for Little Ones

In between feeding and sleeping, babies need a daily dose of exercise to strengthen their muscles and improve coordination. Workout time should be playful and relaxed; stop immediately if baby seems distressed:

Birth-1 year

Put baby on back, rotate legs as if he were pedaling.

Place child on stomach to encourage him to lift his head.

Lay baby on a blanket on the floor so he can move body and reach for toys.

Hold baby upright, supporting his weight.

1-2 years old

Practice kicking with balls.

Make simple obstacle courses to improve coordination.

Play follow the leader together.

Help child move along monkey bars, climb up slides.

Let child push stroller.

Climb staris by holding hands.

2-3 yearss old

Teach child how to pedal and maneuver tricycle.

Throw balls into large basket to improve aim.

Practice balance by walking on tiptoe and standing on one leg.

Play simple game of Simon says.

AGE (IN MOS.) ACHIEVED BY PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN On back: turns head freely 2 2 1/2 3 from side to side, head centered most of the time On stomach: lifts head 2 2 1/2 3 1/2 strongly, straight ahead Rolls completely over: 2 1/2 3 1/2 4 1/2 any direction On stomach: raises head 3 3 1/2 4 1/2 and chest, supporting self on forearms or arms Sitting, supported: holds 3 3 1/2 4 1/2 head erect and steady Sits alone for 30 seconds 6 7 8 or more Pulls self to stand by 7 9 10 furniture Prewalking progression: 7 10 11 creeping on hands and knees or hands and feet; sit-and-hitch Gets from lying to sitting 8 9 1/2 11 without aid Stands alone: 10 seconds 10 1/2 13 14 or more Walks well alone 12 13 1/2 14

Turning On The Motor | News