Supporting the Baby in his Motor Development

To be parents of new babies demands a lot of thoughts and planning. You have to live just here and now, and you have to look far ahead to see what comes and to prevent bad habits and difficulties, e.g. in motor development.

The mattress needs to be of good quality, not too soft or too hard.

A cot or a crib

A cot or a crib


I know that some new experts on children’s health and development assert that the babies are supposed to sleep on the parents as much as possible. I am of that opinion that the well-being of the mother also counts a lot as she must have the energy to take care. The young fathers are more involved, but it’s still the mothers who play the most prominent role in the babies lives the first year.


To support the critical motor development, you can start putting the baby on his stomach as much as possible in his waking hours. That is in your arms on your arm if he is still not too heavy. An excellent way to show him the things of interest in the room like posters of paintings in contrasting colours.

Cecilie og Ditlev 1987


When the baby is placed on his stomach, he will try to lift himself up on his lower arms and have a look around. His head comes up in the right posture in the middle. If the head is continuously leaning towards one side, something ought to be looked at by a physiotherapist or your paediatrician. I have seen babies suffer from not being able to straighten up due to having lied in the womb in a strange position. That could also affect the hips.

A four months old baby looking at things in movement

A four months old baby looking at things that are moving

To help the baby gain confidence in lying on his stomach, you put the bent arms along his breast. That will support the weight, and you give him something beautiful and colourful to look at. The first months it’s black and white patterns mixed with blue and red. Later it’s green and yellow and orange.

When you are tired, let him lay like that on your breast, and you can have a kind of dialogue with sounds and smiles. As I have said before in other posts, this is the most important thing you can do to bonding with your child and make him feel that he is valuable. Things to look at are a supplement, not the main thing.

His abilities on his stomach will grow as he practices, and at four or five months old, he can stretch his arms up while his hips are down flat on the surface.

Along with this, you can help him to turn to both ways. You show him something interesting that goes slowly to the sides. A clear-eyed toy or your own smiling face. He will try to follow with the eyes and roll from some point. Very fast-growing babies are quickly quite big, and this task to turn or roll around is a difficult thing to do. But still very important. The ability to be able to roll is a precursor to the later ability to crawl.

At about six months- old babies can stand on knees and stretched arms and rock back and forth before starting to crawl. In the start, it’s backwards, and then at about 8 or 9 months, it’s forward crawling.

A seven month old baby trying to crawl

A seven-month-old baby trying to crawl

In case of slow improvements in this area, let your baby train from the level he is on. Some are slow because of the substantial weight others just lazy or have been ill. No stage can be skipped. So patience and training and encouragement go together.

To prevent that he starts to walk high up on his toes, you let your two months old baby stand on your lap. You see to it that his feet are standing flat. He has no control over this as the development comes to the feet as the last thing. You do this as an excellent play in a contact situation. I don’t recommend any kind of baby walkers. A child in a walker is leaning to a side and often on his toes. The quality of walking will not develop using instruments like that. Handicapped children can get a walking experience through a baby walker.

The same with chairs. A high chair can be used at meals from six months if the baby can keep his head and back upright. That’s all he needs.

The child’s ability to come up in a sitting position is worth waiting for. As a child is training to crawl he will pause and just sit up, and then he can do it with his back straight, and you have a very contented baby with abilities to move around and investigate the world.


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