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Empowered Parents: 0-6 Months Gross Motor Skills

Over the years in my work as a pediatric physical therapist, countless parents have told me they did not know which gross motor milestones their child should be mastering at a particular age. If this is you too, you're not alone! Parents are constantly juggling and learning so much and this information isn't as glaring as other topics such as sleep schedules and feeding! In addition, in today's world, where there are less in-person social gatherings, children are less frequently around same-aged peers. Being around other children is often one of the ways parents are made aware that their child might be delayed. As a physical therapist I can tell you that earlier intervention leads to quicker and better results. This is why I work to educate parents. When you know the goals, you are more likely to notice if your little one is not meeting them. Empowering parents is my jam!

I'm going to share with you an overview of the goals expected in the first 6 months. There are, of course, other skills and foundations that help little ones to achieve these goals. If you would like a customized plan and education to help your little one achieve these skills, let's schedule a free phone consultation to discuss your goals and how I can help you and your child crush them! Send an email to to schedule your call today!

Now to our goals!

0-2 Months:

- Lift their head upright for brief intervals while in tummy time with their arms positioned under their chest.

- Turn head to both sides to follow a toy held or parent's face positioned <11 inches away while on their back.

- Move arms and legs equally.

- Tummy time goal: at least 30 minutes total throughout the day (this is an ongoing goal).

2 Months:

- Lift their chest and hold their head up during tummy time.

- Swat at toys with their arms while on their back.

3 Months:

- Push up onto forearms while in tummy time, lifting their chest and head for even longer periods of time.

- Hold their heads midline during tummy time and while on their back.

- Bring their hands to midline and to their mouths.

- Play in a side-lying position.

- Lift and hold their head up while sitting with parent giving support at their trunk.

- May begin to roll belly to back.

4 Months:

- Reach for toys on the floor in front of them during tummy time and maintain head and chest up with weight-bearing on forearms for even longer periods of time.

- While on their back, reach and grab toys, bring hands to knees, kick their legs.

- In sitting, hold their head up to look around and reach to grab toys while parent provides help at their trunk.

5 Months:

- Reach for toys with one arm during tummy time, using both arms equally.

- May be rolling belly to back more frequently.

- While on their back they grab toys, bring hands to feet, and may roll from back to side.

- Some may roll back to belly.

- In sitting, begin to use their hands to prop for balance.

6 Months:

- Lift their chest and push up onto hands with elbows extended (straight) during tummy time. Lift an arm to reach for a toy from this tummy time position.

- Begin to pivot 45-90 degrees while on their belly to get to a toy positioned to the side.

- Roll from belly to back and back to belly.

- Sit independently for a few minutes.

- Some begin to position on their hands-and-knees for a brief periods.

Being an empowered parent also means understanding the yellow flags that warrant a screening. Babies should not have their head turned mostly to one side or tilted mostly towards one side, move one arm and/or leg consistently more than the other, or have a flat spot on the back of their head. If you notice any of these mentioned or have other concerns with your child's development, discuss with your pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist.

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