What Is Proximodistal Development?

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Proximodistal development is a pattern of growth observed in very young children where parts of the body closest to the trunk develop motor skills before parts of the body further away. Simply stated, gross motor skills like waving an arm develop before fine motor skills like writing legibly.

A classic example of proximodistal development is infants learning to control their shoulders before they have a good level of control over their arms or individual fingers. Three-month-old infants can grasp objects that are handed to them and make fists, but they lack the ability to point at objects or even reach for objects on their own. The ability to reach typically develops at six months, and the ability to point and pick up small objects like raisins typically develops at a year old.