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Rebecca Chicot PhD
Child development expert with a Phd from Cambridge University. She has worked on several best-selling books and BBC documentaries. She is the proud mother of three children.
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Stage 4 – 9 months

Physical development in babies

Your baby makes huge leaps in her physical development in the first year, going from a curled up newborn to a walking toddler. There are gross motor skills involved such as moving her arms and legs, and fine motor skills such as picking up a grape with her fingers and thumb.
Video Tutorial
In Short

Roughly speaking, during the first year your baby will probably learn the following skills:


Lifting his head

Rolling over

Sitting up



Picking things up between finger and thumb 

Walking (up to 18 months normally)

There is a great deal you can do to gently encourage each of these skills.

Premature babies will probably learn these skills later than baby’s born on their due date.

Estimate your premature baby’s development from his due date, not his birth date.

Babies Physical Development

Your baby makes huge leaps in their physical development in their first year, going from a curled up newborn to a walking toddler. There are gross motor skills involved such as moving their arms and legs, and fine motor skills such as picking up a grape with their fingers and thumb.

In order to learn how to move and control their body babies need lots of practice and lots and lots of repetition. Look at the other lessons in the physical development course to see examples of games you can play to help develop the specific muscles and coordination required to e.g., crawl or roll over.

In general, from birth babies need to spend lots of time on their tummies, whether that is lying across your lap, or reaching for a rattle on a mat or taking part in a baby swimming confidence class. Tummy time first starts to develop your baby’s head and neck control.

The order of physical development

Babies physical development works from the centre outwards.

Babies first begin with head and neck control, then as their back strengthens they can twist and move and begin to kick their limbs and move their arms. Fine control with hands and fingers comes much much later. In the same way babies move through a progression in terms of their mobility. At first, they can just squirm and kick and stay in one place. Then they begin to roll over from their front to their back and then from their back onto their front. With these skills babies that have built strong backs and strong feet (with lots of barefoot moving) generally begin to crawl, whether on all fours or commando style. As their balance and strength increases babies begin to pull themselves up to a standing position. Once freestanding is achieved babies will begin to cruise and then finally walk.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.