Are you eager to improve your baby’s gross motor skills? Check out these easy 12 gross motor activities for babies newborn to 6 months. These activities take little time to set up and are fun for you and baby.
It can be a tad challenging to think of fun and fresh play ideas to engage your babies and help them reach their physical milestones in time.
But fret not. We have listed here a handful of our favorite play activities that can encourage your baby to develop their gross motor skills while helping them learn other abilities as well.
But first, let’s define what are gross motor skills and why they are important for your baby.
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What Are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills are sweeping, big movements that let your baby use their larger muscles and body parts.
By 6 months, a baby should be able to roll from their tummy to their back and vice versa, push up using straight arms during tummy time and use their hand to support themselves in a sitting position.
These skills will, in turn, help them do more advanced gross motor skills, such as sitting on their own, learning how to stand independently, cruising, and walking.
Now here are a dozen gross motor activities you can help your baby reach their physical milestones.
12 Gross Motor Activities For Babies 0-6 months
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This activity is a must for all babies, even for newborns. You can choose to do tummy time right after you give birth or wait until you get home.
Your little one needs to get lots of tummy time as this is the foundational activity for them to learn other gross motor skills – rolling, pushing themselves up, and crawling.
Tummy time also helps your baby gain other skills such as hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and more.
Make sure to place your baby on a clean floor or use a playpen for crawling, so it will be large enough, giving you more bang for your buck.
You can also try putting them in different places for tummy time!
You can do it in the living room, outdoors, on the sofa, and even on the kitchen floor, using a clean rug or playmat.
Does your baby hate tummy time? Check out this super helpful course by BabyCenter to learn about how to make tummy time fun! Taught by a certified pediatric occupational therapist, you’ll also learn tons of new activities to try with your baby during their first year. Read the full class review here or just check it out at BabyCenter here.
If you see your baby getting frustrated when trying to roll on their tummy or back, you can help them or out by tipping them towards one side.
Then see if they can finally roll on their own!
You don’t need to do this every time as you don’t want them getting used to you helping them to roll.
Ready for a fun activity that is great for gross motor skill development and requires zero prep or toys?
Another way to strengthen your baby’s neck and upper body is to put them on their belly and fly them around like an “airplane” while supporting their head and neck.
This is a great tummy time alternative, especially if your baby hates it, and it’s also a fun way to bond with your little one.
Use a Rattle
Encourage your baby to roll over from their tummy to their back and vice versa by using a rattle!
Entice them with it by shaking it on their side and see them try to roll towards the rattle.
Shake the rattle all over the place, so they will also be encouraged to look around, which can help with their neck muscles and upper torso.
Let them also grab onto it then pull it gently. This can help to strengthen their arms.
Let your baby play with a small ball (but not small enough to choke on!). Give them a chance to explore with it. Let them touch it, grab it from you, roll it towards them and let them squeal with delight as they move it.
It can help improve both their gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Just make sure the ball is made of a baby-safe material. Babies tend to mouth anything they can get their hands on.
This is a fairly simple activity, you just need a helium balloon then tie it loosely around your baby’s leg.
Your baby will find this highly entertaining and will encourage them to kick more, strengthening their muscles.
As the balloon moves every time they kick it, they are also exposed to the concept of cause and effect, firing up their cognitive skills. They’re also improving their visual tracking skills by looking at the balloon closely and attentively.
Use a Baby Gym
Baby play gyms are the ultimate toys to have for the first few months.
Those that come with bells and whistles such as a playmat, toy arch, and toys are useful to encourage your baby to do more tummy time and to practice certain gross motor skills such as reaching and swiping at a toy, rolling, and more.
You can also use an exercise ball to help your baby improve their gross motor skills. This would need your full participation as you need to hold your baby safely the entire time.
You can place them on the ball in a tummy-time position.
Or when they’re at least 5 months old, place them in a sitting position while you gently rock and roll the exercise ball.
This exercise allows your baby to strengthen their neck and upper body, which is needed to develop higher-level motor skills such as crawling, standing, and such.
Crawling can lead to more advanced motor skills such as standing, cruising, and walking. To encourage your little ones to crawl, you can introduce them to some tunnel play!
You can place some safe and age-appropriate toys inside the tunnel and pop your head inside, to motivate your baby to start moving inside the tunnel.
You can place the tunnel toy on the floor or if you want more cushion, place it on the carpet or playmat.
Push and Pull Toys
Pushing and pulling different objects can also help with your baby’s gross motor skills!
Show them how to play with a push-and-pull toy first then let them have a go at it.
This activity is best suited for older babies. Put them in a tummy-time position and place a basket full of baby-safe toys in front of them.
This will encourage them to push their arms up, peek inside the basket and reach for the toys, which helps to improve their gross motor and fine motor skills.
Once again, just make sure the objects you place in the discovery basket are made from a baby-safe material (no BPA) and are not small enough that they might choke on it.
This is more or less similar to the discovery basket activity except that sensory play can include playing with water, sand, and the likes, in a safe manner.
You can make some DIY sensory bags and place them around your baby during tummy time, to encourage them to move around, which helps improve their gross motor skills.
Takeaway on Gross Motor Activities For Babies 0-6 months
You don’t need to do all of the activities mentioned above. There’s not a required checklist to go through, and your baby would be fine if you don’t do all of it. However, give a few of these activities a go and see what your baby thinks.
If you haven’t already, make tummy time priority. It’s the best gross motor activity for newborns and younger babies.
Remember to place a few toys scattered around them to play and explore with. Focus on bright colors and patterns, to make the said activity more fun and engaging.
The important thing is this: keep it fun and go at your baby’s pace. Any time you spend developing these gross motor skills will help them learn the skills necessary to reach their next milestones.