What does the Motor thread involve?

Babies learn many gross motor skills in a short period, in the first two years of life, including reaching, grasping, sitting and walking. The earliest baby movements are spontaneous, and they show a lot of variation and complexity. Trial and error is an important tool in a baby’s learning because it helps them to work out the best ways to do skilled movement tasks.

If brain development is disrupted early in life it can impact how movement and sensation is interpreted. This means that their movement may look difficult, often slower and more awkward, which can cause delay in reaching important gross motor milestones, such as sitting. The main goal of early intervention therapy is to reduce the effect of disrupted brain development on a child’s movement development, from the beginning.

How can I apply the Motor thread, to support my high risk infant?

Sensory, motor, and cognitive development are strongly inter-related. Learning to be stable in different postures (e.g. lying on your back and keeping your head in the middle, side lying and sitting) is important, for example, to enable visual development, which influences attention and communication with carers. Early therapies for movement not only improve precise movement in that moment, but also provide building blocks for future cognitive development.  


Creating an environment that supports exploration, whilst physically supporting your infant, is important to support their motor development. We call this support ‘scaffolding’. Doing this in a wide variety of individually and developmentally appropriate activities is best, working with a physiotherapist and occupational therapist.

Supporting your baby to self-sooth will support his/her engagement in any given activity. Encouraging your baby to initiate movement by themselves (e.g. through play with carers or toys); making things slightly more difficult with practice; and repeating these activities, gives the best chance of improving movement and cognition.

You can access free resources to support your child, including leaflets to support developmental play here.

We’ve compiled a list of useful contacts here.

Learn about the other threads of the EiSMART framework here.

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