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What are Gross Motor Skills?

Gross Motor (Physical) skills involve movements of the large muscles of the arms, legs, and torso. These are necessary to perform everyday activities including walking, running, jumping, throwing, kicking, and navigating in your environment. Gross Motor skills progress as children grow and develop and allow children to participate in age appropriate play skills as well allowing them successful opportunities at the playground, in the community, and with family and peers. Most children develop these easily and automatically but some children need help to progress and succeed. Gross Motor skills also begin the foundation for other skills including balance, coordination, body awareness, fine motor skills and endurance.

General Gross Motor Milestone Guidelines: Birth to 5 years

Newborn to 2 mos:

  • Turns head to both sides while on back
  • Lifts head and able to turn to both sides while on belly
  • Head lag with pull to sit
  • Kicking both legs and moving both arms equally while on back
  • Performs tummy time on floor regularly

3-4 mos:

  • Raises head in midline and no head lag noted with pull to sit
  • Able to hold head up when held
  • Pushes up on forearms and rotates head side to side while on belly
  • Tolerates tummy time well
  • May be able to roll belly to back
  • Pushes down on feet when they touch a hard surface

5 mos:

  • Rolling back to belly
  • Brings feet to mouth lying on back
  • Pushing up on extended arms while on belly
  • Pivots in a circle while on belly to both sides

6-8 mos:

  • Sits alone
  • Reaches for toys while in sitting
  • Catches self to side if loses balance while in sitting
  • Crawling on belly

9-11 mos:

  • Moves between laying down and sitting up without help
  • Crawls on hands and knees
  • Pulls to standing pushing through one foot
  • Cruises around furniture
  • Walks with hands held

11-12 mos:

  • Walks with one hand held
  • Standing alone for a few seconds

13-14 mos:

  • Crawling up stairs
  • Stands up from floor without support
  • Walking alone
  • Squats and stands back up without holding onto support

15-18 mos:

  • Walks up stairs with hands or rails to help
  • Crawls down the stairs (on belly, feet first)
  • Can run (though falls easily)
  • Kicks ball forward

By 2 yrs:

  • Walks and runs fairly well
  • Jumps in place with both feet off the ground
  • Walks up and down stairs alone
  • Kicks a ball with either foot
  • Climbing up and down from furniture without assist

By 3 yrs:

  • Balance on one foot for a few seconds
  • Jump forward 10-24 inches
  • Catch a large ball
  • Throw ball overhand
  • Ride a tricycle

By 4 yrs:

  • Can run, jump, and climb well
  • Hop on one foot
  • Can catch a ball reliably
  • Beginning somersaults

By 5 yrs:

  • Skipping
  • Beginning to skate or swim
  • Riding bicycle
  • Catches ball without trapping against chest

What do I do if I have concerns for my child’s Gross Motor Skill Development?

If your child is missing a developmental milestone your child can be assessed by a skilled Physical Therapist. We can schedule a 15 minute screening to determine if a full evaluation is recommended or go ahead and schedule a full evaluation. During this time we can discuss your routines and concerns and then evaluate your child’s motor abilities to either implement a plan of care or provide ideas for home. Baby’s early years are critical in their development so early detection and intervention are key!

-Amy Martin PT, DPT, PCS