The next area in our Developmental Series is the physical development of gross motor skills. Gross motor development is an exciting time for many families. Parents are anxious to watch their child advance from sitting and crawling to eventually walking! While reading the milestones for each age group, remember that ages may vary by 1-2 months.
Babies are born with no control over their body or muscles. At first, parents must be extra careful holding their baby’s head. Within the first two months, newborns will start to raise their head slightly off the floor during tummy time. Their head muscles are becoming stronger, leading to holding it up momentarily with little support. Newborns also begin to experiment with kicking their legs in the air and arm thrusting during play time.
During tummy time, the baby will be able to lift its head and chest. Tummy time allows the baby time to strengthen and stretch key muscles. Head control is significantly improved and the child may bob their head while in supported sitting. Parents should encourage and model rolling from side to side and front to back. The child will begin to experiment and eventually achieve rolling from side to side at this age. Some children may even start to make crawling movements.
At this age, the child is able to sit momentarily with no assistance. While on stomach, child begins to reach for objects or pull forward if a toy is out of reach that he or she wants. Rolling from back to stomach is prevalent, as well as pivoting when on stomach. The child can start in the sitting position and transition onto his/her stomach.
Child can sit alone with full trunk rotation. Trunk rotation is the ability to twist from one side to the other. While sitting, the child may scoot, pivot, crawl, or pull to a stand. Leg muscles are much stronger and the child may stand for a brief second.
Around the child’s first birthday, walking begins to emerge. Some children will need some assistance by holding his/her hands, but others will persistently try on their own. Throughout year one, children will start to climb onto low furniture and pull or push toys with wheels. They can kick a ball and climb stairs with assistance.
Walking quickly turns into running throughout the child’s second year. They can run stiffly, usually on the toes. The child learns how to jump using both feet simultaneously. Walking up stairs becomes easier with some assistance by the banister or an adult. The child continues to push themselves to new limits by pedaling a tricycle while a caregiver pushes, kicking a ball, throwing a ball, and hanging from a monkey bar.
3 years old
A three year old continues to expand on the skills learned at two years old. He or she can run without falling, hop on alternate feet, stand on one foot, and walk backwards. They no longer need a push while pedaling a tricycle. The child is also able to throw a ball about five feet away.
4 years old
At this age, the child has complete control over their body and balance. He or she is able to run smoothly while changing speed. Bouncing a ball, catching a beanbag, and catching a ball with only their arms are achieved. The child also experiments with different types of movement, such as skipping or jumping.
While your child is developing gross motor skills, allow multiple situations for them to explore. Encourage walking and running on grass, concrete, carpet, hills, and/or sand. Introduce your child to new sports or games to build muscle strength while interacting with your child in a fun atmosphere. Gross motor development is an exciting time, so make it entertaining for everyone involved!
If you feel your child is significantly behind in any of these milestones, please contact Lumiere’s Children Therapy for a physical evaluation.
Dunlap, L.L. “Typical Gross Motor Development Milestones.” Education.com. N.p., 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.
“Gross Motor Milestones in Child Development.” Kids Can Do Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.
Lumiere Therapy Team