Your baby’s first year brings astounding growth. During this age, your little one will not only grow in size and height, but they’ll also develop many basic gross and fine motor skills. By using growth charts to monitor and compare, you can ensure that your little one is growing up strong and healthy.
At birth, your baby’s weight, length and head circumference are rated against other newborn babies (and adjusted for preemies). For example, if your baby’s birth weight is in the 60th percentile, this means they’re heavier than 60% of other new babies. As your baby grows, these measurements are tracked at check-ups to ensure their growth is healthy and in the normal range.
Don’t panic if your baby has an unusually high or low rating; your little one’s development is influenced by so many factors, such as genes, temperament, nutrition, and level of activity, that there’s a broad range of what’s considered ‘normal’. The important thing is that they’re progressing. These measurements are re-assessed over time to get the big picture.
Fine and gross motor skills
From flailing their arms to rolling over, walking and talking to picking their noses, your baby’s motor skills will mature in the following two ways:
- Gross: the movement of large muscles and limbs (like sitting, crawling and walking)
- Fine: the movement of smaller muscles like fingers and toes (like grasping toys) Generally, gross motor skills are easier for your baby to achieve, while fine motor skills require more practice. Practising small movements improve your baby’s dexterity in fine motor skills like writing, feeding and dressing themselves later in life.
Encouraging baby’s physical development
To boost healthy development, try some of these activities with your baby:
- Get your baby’s attention by clicking your fingers so they turn to look at you.
- Encourage tummy time.
- Engage in mirror play and ‘peekaboo’.
- Stand your baby up, holding under arms and resting feet on your lap.
- Place toys just out of reach to encourage mobility.
- Prop baby up into a sitting position.
- Spoon-feed baby porridge for coordination.
- Provide finger foods.
- Read books together.
- Brush teeth in front of mirror.
A space for flourishing
The best environment for your baby’s growth is one that’s safe and warm. Make sure they can’t access dangerous surfaces, tools, substances, or heights by covering sharp corners, keeping hazardous objects out of reach, and blocking stairs. Once your safe space is established, the best place to practise gross and fine motor skills is on a blanket on the floor. There’s a wealth of educational and homemade toys (like plastic containers with beans inside) that you can use to help your baby’s physical development thrive.