Gross motor skills are the ones most often taken for granted by parents. Everyone assumes the baby will just “learn” to sit, crawl, and walk in a natural way without much assistance.
This is true for many infants and toddlers, who reach their milestones without much attention or fanfare at all.
Still, others need additional help to reach milestones, and nothing is taken for granted. And then some children fall into a middle category, those “late bloomers” who eventually catch on, with some encouragement.
Whatever category your child is in, it can’t hurt to help them along with fun, developmentally-appropriate toys, and gear during the holiday season. These are some of my favorites to help your child develop gross motor skills.
Tummy Time Mats
Your newborn needs to spend time on his/her tummy every day, to establish trunk and neck muscles as well as core muscles that will support further development. There are a lot of tummy time mats on the market so you can pick one that fits your budget. Many tummy mats come with a cushion to support baby’s torso, as well as toys, mirrors, and colorful hanging objects.
My Pick: My favorite tummy mat is the Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano Gym, which converts to different play styles as your baby grows. It is available for $31 on Amazon and comes in pink/purple or blue/green color themes.
Push and Pull Toys
Beginning walkers need something to hold onto for support as they practice the all new skill of walking. The baby market is flooded with a huge variety of toddler walkers. Some of these, like the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker, come with lots of toys on the front, to double as a play center.
Others are themed to pretend play, like the Bright Starts Giggling Gourmet Shop ‘n Cook Walker, which looks like a shopping cart, or the Fisher Price Stroll Along Walker, which doubles as a doll carriage. Then there are also walkers that convert into ride-on toys, like the Playskool Rockitivity Rider.
My Pick: I’m always into investing in toys that grow with your child and have more than one purpose. That’s why I like the Little Tikes Shopping Cart. Although not originally designed as a walker, this sturdy shopping cart can be loaded with the desirable weight to fit the needs of your toddler as s/he grows. This classic red and yellow toy has a seat where a doll or stuffed animal can be seated It serve as a pretend play facilitator, and provides satisfying sensory input when loaded with heavy items. The shopping cart is available for just over $20 on Amazon.
By Chaya Glatt