Three Ways to Encourage Gross-Motor Development in Months 4–6

In an earlier post on gross-motor skills, we focused on development during the first three months, and provided ways you can help your baby reach related milestones. In this post, we’ll focus on gross-motor development during months 4 through 6, and suggest strategies for accomplishing associated milestones.

Your little one’s strength and cognitive development have made impressive gains over the first three months. Now, gross-motor milestones are getting more complex, preparing your little one for crawling and getting into a sitting position independently.

You can help by doing three simple things.

1. Put enticing toys on the floor, just out of baby’s reach

The more supervised tummy time your little one has had, the greater his or her upper-body strength. Once your child is a) strong enough to lift head and chest off the floor; and, b) able to prop him- or herself up on elbows, it’s time to learn how to pivot—a gross-motor milestone that typically is reached at 4 months of age.

For tummy time, dress baby in something smooth, like a onesie or PJs, and put him or her down on a smooth, clean floor. Put enticing toys on the floor, just out of baby’s reach on either side. Pivoting—at first, about a quarter-turn around on baby’s belly—greatly increases arm strength and lets baby practice coordinating both arms to move the body. Crawling isn’t all that far away.


2. Put enticing toys on the floor, farther away from baby’s reach

Once your little one has learned to pivot, rolling over from stomach to back is just a matter of time. This milestone typically is reached at about month 5. You can help by coaxing baby to roll over in the same way you prompted pivoting. This time, though, put the toys even farther out of baby’s reach. You might even lie down beside him or her, also out of reach, to offer encouragement.

The first time a rollover happens, everyone may be surprised.


3. Be a great cheerleader

As your child masters rolling from stomach to back, arm and neck muscles have all continued to strengthen. This has prepared your little one to make the arduous return trip: rolling from back to stomach. While this is a more challenging rollover, once again you can help.

During tummy time, get on the floor beside baby, out of reach and holding an intriguing toy. Encourage your little one to roll toward you. Celebrate when the rollover happens, and give baby the toy to play with. Then, move to baby’s other side, again out of his or her reach and holding another interesting toy. Enthusiastic encouragement is a powerful motivator—cheer your little one on as he or she attempts this more challenging rollover from back to stomach.

Don’t be surprised if once baby has mastered that more difficult move, rolling becomes his or her preferred way to get from Point A to B.


Want more playtime activity ideas? Learn more about your baby’s gross-motor skills and how you can help foster physical and cognitive development in the ParentPal app.