Motor Development in Children Aged 0-6 Months

The arrival of a child in a family is a great event and often his/her first steps are eagerly awaited. But, what about the steps required for walking? You will find here the normal developmental stages between 0 and 6 months that your child should go through before moving on his two feet.

During the baby’s first months of life, it is expected that he/she will be able to take a position less curved (in flexion) to gently and gradually go in an upright position (towards extension) . The baby gradually improves his/her head control between 2 and 4 months. On the tummy, the baby gently turns his/her head to the sides and is then able to lift it, keeping it centered until looking straight ahead. Starting the first months, it is important to position your child on the stomach during the waking hours so that he/she gets used to the position and develops the strength of his posterior neck and back muscles. In a supported sitting position, it begins by keeping the head straightened for a few seconds to possibly keep it straight and turn it to all sides.

During the baby’s fourth month of life, he/she develops more skills on the tummy by alternating support on the elbows when he/she raises the chest. In doing so, he/she may accidentally start to turn from the stomach to the back. During this period, he/she brings objects and toys towards the mouth, on his/her back, this allows the baby to develop arm strength. So, in the fifth month of life, the baby easily transfers toys from one hand to the other. He/she gains trunk strength and can grab his/her feet with his/her hands and bring them towards the mouth. Your child will find it easier on the floor to turn to the side and on their back from the prone position. The baby can also, while being assisted, remain seated with the support of his/her hands in front and the legs wide open. At this point, if you hold the baby upright, he/she can push on his/her legs then quickly release and resume the position with the straight legs giving the impression that he/she jumps.

Finally when the baby’s sixth month is reached, we see that his/her control of the head and neck is achieved in all playing positions: on the back, on the stomach and sitting. The baby can then pass easily from the back to the tummy and from the tummy to the back while rolling on his/her sides. The baby can also hold the sitting position alone with the hands free to play and in case of imbalance, he/she is able to correct the posture with his/her hands forward. Reactions to balance on the sides and back are still immature at six months, so close monitoring is still necessary. If you keep your child in a standing position, he/she begins to make small leaps on his/her legs by bending the knees. On the other hand, you will notice that his/her trunk remains leaning forward and that his/her feet are not flat on the ground. This is completely normal, these are the first signs that your child is becoming familiar with the feeling of his/her feet on the ground. If you ever notice that he/she is pushing very hard in the position or that his/her legs are very stiff when you stand him, it could be an abnormal increase in the muscle tone. It would then be preferable to consult your doctor or physiotherapist in order to eliminate any medical conditions that may cause this sign and, de facto, reduce this tendency.

You have an idea of the steps your child will go through in their first six months. Shortly will follow its motor development up to twelve months when the gains for walking will be important.

Sabrina Perron-Singh Pht M.Sc

Expert in pediatric physiotherapy

Boisbriand Physiotherapy Clinic