Did you know that your child’s motor skills begin to develop almost as soon as they are born? Long before they say their first words or take their first steps, the muscles in their body begin to expand and strengthen and continues rapidly doing so until 5 or 6 years.
So what can you do to ensure that your little one is getting all the support and right tools they need to sharpen these skills?
In this blog, we look at what exactly gross motor skills are, how play can help develop them, and some simple and fun wooden toys that your child is sure to love.
What are gross motor skills?
Gross motor skills are our ability to manipulate the large muscles in our body. From activities such as walking and running to ones such as sitting upright and moving objects from one hand to another, we need multiple well developed gross motor skills to function and enjoy life to its fullest. There are three main types of gross motor skills and activities:
- Locomotor skills: These skills involve activities that require a child to move from one place to another such as walking, running, jumping, skipping, and so on. They help keep children active and healthy.
- Non-locomotor skills: These are skills that a child can practice while staying stationary in one place. This includes activities such as pushing, pulling, bending, turning, stretching, and so on. They help children learn to balance and move their bodies as they wish to with purpose and grace.
- Movement manipulation skills: These skills are all about moving objects in different ways. They include activities such as catching, throwing, and kicking. They help kids physically interact with the world around them, are important for daily activities, and are key to most sports and outdoor games.
How does play develop gross motor skills?
Just like any skill at any point in life, a child’s gross motor skills will develop with one simple rule — practice until perfect. And we know that the easiest way to get children to practice anything is to make a game of it.
Practicing gross motor skills does not have to be complicated. In fact, we do it from the time we hold a rattle in front of an infant and move it from side to side. This simple act is a game for the baby, and it helps them focus and gradually develop the muscles to move their head.
Open-ended toys that allow for unstructured play are ideal as they give your child a chance to consciously move their bodies, manipulate objects, and stay engaged with the world around them.
So the best way to help your child hone their gross motor skills is surrounding them with sufficient opportunity to practice and inspiration to play! Choose toys that meet your child where they are at in their development and push them to the next stage. Open-ended toys that allow for unstructured play are ideal as they give your child a chance to consciously move their bodies, manipulate objects, and stay engaged with the world around them.
Toys to develop gross motor skills can range from simple playthings like rattles and soft balls to more challenging ones like activity walkers and children’s bowling pins. Let’s look at some safe and eco-friendly toys that will be instant hits with any child!
Toys to build gross motor skills
Suitable for infants
Find the perfect little buddy for your baby from shumee’s wide range of organic rattles that come in different designs, colors, and textures. Rattles are a must have in every newborn’s toy box as babies develop gross motor skills when they move their heads to see it, extend their arms to touch it, or try to crawl and reach for the rattle. From the adorable Bozo Bear to Ele the elephant, pick a rattle that speaks to you and watch the magic it can do for your child!
Suitable for 1+ years
This classic toy will give you all the nostalgic feels as you watch your child spend hours rocking back and forth! This toy is safe and sturdy and comes with a broad seat, backrest, footrest, rubber sliders to prevent extreme rocking, and a U-ring to protect your child from falling. It helps develop sensory skills with gentle movements and gross motor skills with the rocking motion.
Suitable for 1+ years
Your baby’s first steps will be even more memorable with this ergonomically designed, multi-activity baby walker! This walker comes with a wooden xylophone, a clock with numbers and hands, grooves to move and glide shapes, multi-coloured gears, and a bead maze. It is fitted with cushioned rubber wheels for a smooth, jerk-free walking experience, which will help build your child’s gross motor skills. It also hones several other skills such as fine motor, sensory, and self expression.
Suitable for 2+ years
Stack up the pins and try to hit as many as you can! This cool game for all ages will keep your preschooler interested for hours as they try and better themselves with each round. Setting up the pins and moving about to hit them all will hone your child’s gross motor skills. Aiming the bowling ball to hit the pins will also help hone their fine motor and spatial skills.
Suitable for 3+ years
There’s nothing quite as fun as a balance board to get your child comfortable with movement, stillness, and balancing themselves! With this colorful board, your toddler can have fun wobbling and jiggling indoors or outdoors. Trying to stand steady on the balance board will help them develop leg strength. Figuring out the perfect way to stay on the balance board without falling off will help them develop coordination. The board is just as enjoyable for adults so this will be a household favorite!
Suitable for 3+ years
This DIY set is perfect to get your child comfortable using their hands to build their own little world. It comes with 12 colorful beechwood and ivory wood pieces, child-safe tools, funky nuts and bolts and even some extra planks to get creative with! Handling the tools and putting together the chair will strengthen your child’s gross and fine motor skills. This project will also give them a sense of confidence, ownership, and pride in their creation!
You could also check out our combos for great deals on toys that work well together to help your little one grow.
Remember that every child grows differently
Of course, we will eagerly anticipate the development of each gross motor skill along our children’s journeys. But while doing so, let’s not forget that even the smallest milestone takes daily practice and consistent effort to reach. And every child will grow in their own time, one little step at a time!