baby kicking arms legs on belly

Head control is essential because all of the following motor milestones depend on it.

Your baby can not roll, sit, crawl or stand without head control. Babies who have difficulties with head control will either need professional help, or they will learn to hold their head with compensation.

This compensation could affect the whole body, the developing movements, and skills.

mama with newborn baby



Your full-term newborn baby’s whole body is in a “flexion pattern” which means that the head, shoulders, arms, back; legs are all in the bent/forward position.

When you place your baby on her belly, she will not be able to straighten her arms, legs or back. This makes it a bit challenging to lift her head up.

Learning of motor skills and being out of the womb will help your baby’s flexion pattern disappear by the age of ~two months.

Full-term newborns have a reflex that helps when learning head control. If you place your full-term baby on her belly, – face forward onto the mattress – your baby will turn her head to one side to assist herself breathing easier.

This reflex will help your baby learn to lift her head up. 

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Puzzles are versatile toys and educational tools. “They are fun for all ages.”

The beginner puzzles are peg puzzles. The large knob puzzles are a good toy from age 6-7 months. The small peg puzzles can be introduced at 10-11 months of age.

I prefer the small knob puzzles. The large knob is good for someone with weak hands and severe muscular challenges. Babies with no challenges usually graduate to the small peg puzzles in 2-3 months.

What do I do with peg puzzles?

First of all, I consider them tools, not toys.

  • Teach imitation
  • Teach matching
  • Teach vocabulary
  • Teach sounds and words
  • Teach concepts i.e.: colors, counting
  • Teach bending the knees and other motor skills
  • Teach following directions

Definition of tools and toys

The best tools to teach a baby are my toys. I looooove toys! And I love to play and teach with them.

I consider toys to be a parents tool until the child can be taught with that toy. When I child can play with the toy all the “games” the parent taught her the toy stops being a tool.

large knob puzzle

My toys are my tools

As a Physical Therapist, I use toys to distract and entertain from the difficulties of the exercise I am teaching a child to do.

Even though my profession is about the motor components of child development I make sure to teach the child all skills I know. For example, I address finger movements, arm strength, self-feeding, vocabulary, cognitive thinking, speech ext.

Teaching imitation

One of the baby’s cognitive corner skills is imitating. With peg puzzles a baby imitates mom:

  • Taking out the puzzle pieces
  • Putting in the puzzle pieces
  • Matching the puzzle piece image to the same image on the board
  • Holding the puzzle pieces with the pincher grasp
  • Turning the pieces to fit into cut out shape
  • Naming the puzzle piece
  • Focusing to complete the task at hand ext

When I work on imitation I like to sit the baby in the high chair to avoid distraction and keep the baby from crawling away. I place the puzzle board with the pieces in them in front of the baby.

Then I take the pieces out one by one and place them on my table watching the whole time what is the baby doing. I work in silence because I want the baby to focus on my movements only.

I am looking at facial expressions, tracking of her eyes, reaching to touch puzzle, eventually imitating the whole sequence I presented.

Teaching matching

When I established that the baby is imitating I play different games with the puzzle. When I work on matching I name the puzzle piece and move it to the matching spot on the board and either say “match” or repeat the name of the puzzle piece.

beginners vocabulary puzzle

Teaching vocabulary

When I focus on vocabulary the completion of the puzzle is not the goal. I pick up puzzle pieces name them or say any word or sound I can teach with it and give it to the child. He is free to do anything with it. I keep giving him pieces and putting them in and out of board until the child is engaged in this game.

Teaching sounds and words

When the child knows some of the words I start working on speech. During the game style described above, I won't give them a piece until the child stays silent or looks at me/my mouth or repeats a sound /syllable /the word he hears.

Teaching concepts i.e.: colors, counting

colored tomatoes

Concepts are hard to teach to a baby. Green-Red-Blue are words but they are also a concept, not a thing. Concepts can be easiest taught when we describe the concept of a thing the baby already knows.

I introduce concept playing with the puzzle when the baby clearly knows the word of the puzzle piece. Shape puzzle is a good tool to teach color with.

When I introduce colors I hold to 2 shapes at the same time. I say the color and shape names and wait for the child to reach out to get one of the shapes.

I motion the chosen piece toward the little hand and hold it firmly for while the baby pulls on it and repeat the color and shape name. This tug-a-war creates a repeated notice of my spoken words in the baby.

Teaching bending the knees and other motor skills

Bending down from standing is a big milestone. To help baby safely and without any compensations, I place the empty puzzle board onto the couch.

I stand the baby facing the board and sit next to her dominant side. I hold each puzzle piece one by one around knee level facilitating the baby to reach down to get the piece.

To get baby’s attention and to direct the mind downwards I repeatedly and gently tap the baby’s leg with the puzzle. As the baby progresses I hold the puzzle lower and lower until I reach the floor level.

Teaching following directions

3D men with puzzle block

With a walking child, I will spread the puzzle pieces facing up on the floor 2-3 feet away from a child table. I will put the board on the table and ask the child to bring me a particular puzzle piece.

 If the child brings the wrong puzzle piece I will send it back and continue asking for the piece I “wanted” originally. I will stay at the table until I see the baby needs help looking, locating the asked piece.

I also teach following directions with the peg puzzles with one picture cut into pieces.

These are a few thing I work on using puzzles. I have around 30 peg board puzzles, antique and new. I collect them according their teaching “powers”.

All my puzzles are in zip-lock bags. I clean up one toy counting all pieces before I start playing with a new one. Using this method I managed to keep all the pieces to my puzzles.

shapes house puzzle


Remember, the information presented here CAN NOT substitute medical evaluation, medical diagnosis or medical treatment. Always follow your doctor's advice. The contents of this website are informational only. It CAN NOT be used to substitute proper medical care!

By reading, using, sharing the “Contents” of the Baby’s Milestones Website, FB pages, Instagram and other social media sites, you agree that they are to be used for informational purposes only.


baby scooting drawing

It is as hard for him as it would be for you if I ask you to walk on a log 15 feet over a fast running stream

His rational mind is not mature yet to predict the future. His brain can not assist him to see beyond a certain point.
Without the rational mind, he does not see that the effort he has to put into learning a difficult task will pay him off later. He wants a cause and effect now.
If his actions do not give him satisfaction in the moment he will try something else.
So he chooses a very smart route.
He adapts.

right and left brain depiction

Even though adults have their rational mind developed well, adults don’t act that much different either

We all adapt differently. Some of us try walking with a different gait pattern. Some of us try locomotion with a wheelchair.
Some of us have bodies that can not move according to our will at all.

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Gross motor skills and your child's personality

infant in bear crawl drawing

What is personality?  “It is a set of individual differences that are affected by the development of an individual: values, attitudes, personal memories, social relationships, habits, and skills.”  This also including gross motor skills.

I wonder, how much each skill affects our children’s personality?

babies standing and sitting


My kids could not avoid their physical therapist mama teaching them rolling, sitting, crawling. They could have learned on their own but I wanted to give them a head start in locomotion. The results were very different. They both taught me many valuable if very different lessons.

My daughter, a very strong girl, (my perpetual mover) thrived so well with the extra training, her gross motor skills developed so fast, that she crawled at 5 and ½ months. However, my laid back, low muscle tone son would not even sit independently by 7 and ½ months but decided to show off a skill set of sitting, crawling and pull to stand all in one day. Clearly their genetically given muscular tone, balancing skills affected how and when they learned to sit and crawl.

Up to this day, my children’s gross motor skills are vastly different. They also have very different personalities, different interests in sports and almost every area.

Is our personality a collection of skills or does our personality directs the development of our skills?

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