During your baby’s infancy and toddlerhood, she is developing all kinds of new skills right before your eyes! Her gross motor skills may be the easiest to see as she goes from lying down to sitting, crawling, walking and eventually running! Her fine motor skills progress from learning the basics of how to reach for and grasp toys to more advanced manipulation of toys. Her cognitive skills explode during this time period as she transitions from learning by passively observing the world around her to learning through interacting with objects and actively exploring her environment. You can watch her social skills grow as she moves from depending fully on you to being curious in other adults and children in her life. The development of all of these skills culminates in her play skills, which change and advance as she develops new ways of interacting with the people and things in her world.
When picking a class for your baby to participate in, it can be helpful to take her development into consideration. Many classes for babies and toddlers will work on skills from different areas of development, but it may not be obvious to you as a parent whose skills are being addressed. In order to help you better understand how classes for your 0-3-year-old may be addressing these skills, here are some ways that classes for this age group may be nurturing the development of different areas.
Gross Motor Skills
A class that incorporates gross motor skill development will likely have a movement component, where your child is encouraged to move their body by dancing, crawling, or climbing. Any movement is good for gross motor development, but classes that help your child improve their gross motor skills will facilitate new movements that your child has not yet mastered. Here is a good one by Music for Aardvarks on GoBambino and lots of options on the UWS by FunFit Kids!
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are skills that incorporate using our hands and are essential for most activities. Classes for young children that target fine motor skill development will likely consist of playing instruments, using tools, or manipulating objects. The Craft Studio in Tribeca and The Craft Studio on UES offer plenty of such options.
Your young child uses cognitive skills whenever she is engaged in an activity, but some activities require more cognitive skills than others. Classes that advance your child’s cognitive skills at this stage may involve activities such as counting, discussing colors, and naming objects. The Babies Project offers a wonderful class for babies.
In your baby’s first few years of life, her social skills development focuses primarily on her primary caregivers. Classes that promote social skills at this stage will be for both your baby and you (or another caregiver) and will require your active participation in activities. For older toddlers classes that address social skills may also work on sharing and turn taking. The Friendship Circle on the UWS has plenty of great options!
Classes that promote play skills will allow your child free time to explore toys and/or activities. While structured time is important for other skill development, play skills require more open-ended activities to fully develop. Open Play at City Treehouse is perfect!
All of these skills are essential to healthy development, and you can find classes on GoBambino that will address each of them – benefitting your baby for years to come.
Kelsey Helgesen is a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City. She graduated with a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Southern California and has provided both school-based and home-based early intervention occupational therapy services. Kelsey is currently a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University where she is studying Infant and Early Childhood Development. She is particularly interested in childhood trauma and its relationship to sensory processing. Kelsey is also a foster mother caring for one to two children at any given time.