Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

August 26, 2020

Development: Gross Motor Skills

Typical Development of Gross Motor Skills

By: Abby Morton, DPT

While kids are spending more time at home, now is a great time to run through a checklist to ensure your little one is on track with development, specifically gross motor skills. Gross motor skills are activities that include full body movement and communication of the core, arms and legs. This includes sitting, standing, walking, running, kicking, throwing, jumping, and climbing. As a physical therapist, we are looking for kids to have a specific skill set of strength, balance, body awareness, motor planning, and coordination to perform these activities well. Every child is unique with development, therefore may master a skill at a different time compared to other kids the same age. It is important to monitor how a little one is progressing as he or she grows to ensure that we are maximizing the potential for development and play. Below is a quick check list of gross motor skills associated with averaged age ranges from newborn to 5 years of age. These are some examples of important skills. The additional resources below, offer more detailed checklists.

0-4 months

  • Lifts head off the floor when on stomach
  • Smooth movements with arms and legs when on back
  • Reaches for toys when on back
  • Steady head control on back and in supported sitting
  • Pushes elbows into the mat and support body when on stomach

5-7 months

  • Reaches for feet when on back
  • Rolls from stomach to back and back to stomach, both directions
  • Begins sitting without support
  • Pushes through legs and feet when in supported standing

8-10 months

  • Sits independently
  • Moves in and out of sitting onto stomach
  • Rocks on hands and knees
  • Begins creeping forward on hands and knees
  • Pulls to standing, stands with support

11-12 months

  • Cruises along furniture
  • Stands alone without support
  • Picks object off the floor then returns to standing, with support
  • Takes steps without support
  • Creeps up stairs
  • Flings a ball

13-18 months

  • Independent walking
  • Walk up 3-4 steps, creeps down steps
  • Throws a ball toward a targeted direction

19-24 months

  • Walks backward
  • Stands on tip toes
  • Kicks a ball
  • Begins to run
  • Walks up and down stairs with support, both feet touching each step
  • Jumps up and forward with both feet
  • Throws a ball overhand toward a targeted direction

3 years

  • Walks up and down stairs with support, 1 foot touching each step
  • Walks on tip toes when asked
  • Runs well with good speed
  • Pedals tricycle
  • Climbs on to furniture

4 years

  • Hops on 1 foot
  • Gallops
  • Runs around obstacles
  • Walks along a line
  • Throws and catches with accuracy

5 years

  • Balances on 1 foot for at least 6 seconds
  • Skips
  • Swings and climbs on playground equipment
  • Walks up and down stairs without support, 1 foot touching each step

If you do not see your child performing these activities or has since lost a certain skill, contact your pediatrician or Child & Family Development for a skills evaluation. It is important to act early if you do not see your child performing these activities.

Resources for a thorough checklist of age-appropriate skills:

CDC Developmental Milestones https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html

Pathways Motor Skills https://pathways.org/topics-of-development/motor-skills/

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