Who has finished their Christmas shopping????? I haven’t…(!)
If you are struggling for ideas, and would like to buy something for your child that will support their gross motor development, here are a few suggestions:
Mirrors or toys with mirrors
Babies love to look at themselves, so using a mirror or a toy with a mirror on it can be great to encourage a baby to stay on their tummy for longer, but they may also be motivate to reach forwards or creep forwards to reach for their reflection
Perfect to encourage a baby who bottom shuffles to crawl on their hands and knees – the narrow space of the tunnel makes shuffling on your bottom very difficult! Roll a ball into the tunnel to encourage your baby to crawl on in, and then lie with your face at the other end to encourage your baby to go all the way through the tunnel.
Building blocks/ stacking cups
Large building blocks and large stacking cups are great for encouraging children to strengthen their leg muscles. Get your baby to squat down to get a block, and then stand up to put it on top of the tower.
When babies first learn to stand, they will do so at a coffee table, dining chair or at the lounge – all of these are horizontal surfaces, which means your baby can lean forwards and prop themselves on their tummy. To challenge your baby’s standing by getting them to stand at a vertical surface – a fridge, a window or sliding glass door, a wall, or an art easel. Magnets on the fridge or reusable stickers on the window are great for this. Put the magnets or stickers off to each side to challenge your baby’s balance when standing.
Toys with multiple pieces
A physio’s favourite toy is sometimes any toy that has multiple pieces and can therefore provide lots of repetitions of an activity! Puzzles, construction toys, building blocks, pretend shopping baskets full of food, quoits, buckets with bean bags or lots of fun activities inside…..the options are endless. Toys with multiple pieces you to practice a movement over and over and over again – squat down to get the puzzle piece and put it in the puzzle board; lie down to get a piece of shopping then sit up again to put it in the basket; rotate your body to reach and get a building block then rotate to the opposite side to stack the block or put it in the bucket. And at the end, you can use the process of packing up the multiple pieces to get your child to do just few more practices or repetitions 😉
Scooter boards are great for upper body strengthening and core strengthening. You can lie on your tummy and pull yourself with your hands, you can lie on your tummy and pull yourself along a rope, you can sit and scoot with your feet, or you can kneel while you push yourself along with some sticks. Create a human bowling activity – set up some skittles at one end of the hall or patio, and get your child to scoot down and knock all the skittles over. Or get them to push themselves around on the scooter board to collect toys you have hidden around the house or patio.
Great for providing just a little bit of stability while children first learn to walk. If your child is just learning to stand and is tentatively taking steps you may find that the push cart runs ahead of them and they will fall forward – this can be overcome by weighing down the push cart with something very heavy like a bowling ball, a sand bag or some bricks. Using a push cart may not be a great idea if your child has a neurological difficulty, but is often fine for children who are typically developing and on the cusp of learning to walk.
Hoops can have multiple purposes – your child can hold onto one side of the hoop while you hold the other side to provide them with a little bit of balance when they are learning to walk independently. Then, when they are older, you can use a hoop to practice jumping in and out of the hoop, or you can use a hoop to crawl through or step through as part of an obstacle course
I haven’t seen these around a lot, but these are great for children who need to practice balancing and doing different things on either side of their body. The child needs to stand and balance on one leg while stamping on the stomp rocket with their other leg.
Yes, slides are great for the climbing practice when you go up the ladder. This will help to strengthen your child’s legs and arms and improves their coordination. But climbing up the actual slide is also great for strengthening a child’s legs and core, and provides a good calf stretch.
Step over it, jump over it, bend down to go under it, walk with one leg either side of it, walk along it like a tight rope, and of course jump rope with it.
Great for motor planning and problem solving, but also great for strengthening a child’s upper body and core – it’s pretty hard work to hold some of those poses you end up in when playing Twister!
Balloon with a balloon cover
If your child is just learning to catch, or is finding catching a ball difficult because it moves too fast – learning to catch a balloon can be easier because it moves more slowly. A balloon cover helps the balloon to last longer by preventing it from popping!
Ball skills are a fundamental skill for children in this day and age. Ball skills enable a child to participate in sports with their peers, which provide opportunities for social interaction, social participation, team work, problem solving, taking turns, and of course, physical activity. Start with larger balls if your child is learning to catch and throw, then as they improve you can progress to small balls. And don’t forget to use both your hands and your feet, as well as learning to strike a ball with a bat.
Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas 🙂