Do you wonder if your child is meeting their gross motor milestones? 

Gross motor skills are those which require whole body movement and which involve the core and large muscles of the body to perform everyday functions, such as sitting, standing, walking, running, kicking, and jumping.  These skills also relate to balance, strength, body awareness, and motor planning.  The following are general guidelines for gross motor development for children ages 0 to 6 years.

RED FLAGS = Act early and talk to your child’s pediatrician if you do not see your child doing these activities.  

AVERAGE SKILLS at 2 months:

  • Raises head up and begins to push up when on stomach

  • Holds head up momentarily when supported

  • Alternates kicking legs when on back

  • Arm thrusts in play

  • Makes smoother movements with arms and legs

RED FLAGS at 2 months:

  • Doesn’t respond to loud sounds

  • Doesn’t watch things as they move

  • Doesn’t smile at people

  • Doesn’t bring hands to mouth

  • Can’t hold head up when on stomach

AVERAGE SKILLS at 4 months:

  • Holds head steady, unsupported, at midline (3 months)

  • Lifts head and chest when on stomach (props on forearm)

  • Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface

  • Rolls from side to side

  • Rolls from stomach to back

  • Sits briefly with arm support

  • Brings hands to midline during play

RED FLAGS at 4 months:  

  • Doesn’t smile at people

  • Doesn’t watch things as they move

  • Can’t hold head steady

  • Head rotation or tilt (not in midline): needs assessment for torticollis

  • Doesn’t bring things to mouth

  • Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a hard surface

  • Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions

AVERAGE SKILLS at 6 months

  • Reaches to objects on stomach

  • Pivots around when on stomach

  • Pulls self forward on stomach

  • Rolls from back to stomach

  • Begins to sit without support

  • Moves from sitting to lying on stomach

  • When standing (with support), supports weight on legs and might bounce

RED FLAGS at 6 months:  

  • Doesn’t try to get things that are in reach

  • Has difficulty getting things to mouth

  • Doesn’t roll over in either direction

  • Seems very stiff, with tight muscles

  • Seems very floppy, like a rag doll

AVERAGE SKILLS at 9 months

  • Sits alone with weight shifting and trunk rotation/ reaches for toys

  • Pivots and scoots in sitting

  • Creeps or crawls

  • Pulls to stand

  • Stands holding on

  • Stands alone momentarily

RED FLAGS AT 9 MONTHS

  • Doesn’t bear weight on legs with support

  • Doesn’t sit with help

  • Doesn’t transfer toys from one hand to the other

AVERAGE SKILLS at 12 months

  • Pulls up to stand, walks holding onto furniture (“cruising”)

  • May take a few steps without holding on

  • May stand alone

RED FLAGS at 12 MONTHS:

  • Doesn’t crawl

  • Can’t stand when supported

  • Loses skills he/she once had

AVERAGE SKILLS at 15 months:

  • Assumes tall kneeling

  • Walks on knees

  • Walks independently without support

  • Able to stand without support

  • Creeps up stairs

  • Able to start, stop and turn without falling while walking

  • Crawls up on chairs or other furniture

  • Squats and stands back up

AVERAGE SKILLS at 18 months:

  • Walks up one step at a time with hand held or railing

  • Creeps down stairs

  • Walks with heel-toe pattern, seldom falls

  • Walks sideways and backwards

  • Runs, but falls often

  • Stands on one foot with help

  • Kicks large ball forward after demonstration

  • Manages riding toys

  • Pulls toys while walking

RED FLAGS AT 18 MONTHS

  • Can’t walk

  • Loses skills he once had

AVERAGE SKILLS at 24 months/ 2 years:

  • Walks down one step at a time with rail or hand holding

  • Can climb stairs without support

  • Jumps vertically in place and forward > 4 inches

  • Kicks a stationary ball

  • Throws a ball overhand

  • Jumps down from a step, may have 1 foot leading

  • Walks on a line with 1 foot on/ 1 foot off

  • Stands on tiptoes 1-2 seconds

AVERAGE SKILLS at 2.5 years:

  • Walks on balance beam with one hand held

  • Stands on balance beam alone

  • Walks up stairs one step at a time with no railing

  • Runs well with good speed and balance

  • Briefly stands on one foot 1-2 seconds

  • Jumps from one step with feet together

  • Climbs on play equipment-ladders, slides, etc.

AVERAGE SKILLS at 3 years:

  • Walks down stairs, one foot on each step

  • Balances on one foot 2-3 seconds

  • Jumps forward at least 12 inches

  • Walks on balance beam alone

  • Walks on tip toe when asked

  • Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)

  • Jumps down from 24 inch height

AVERAGE SKILLS at 4 years:

  • Can run, jump, and climb well

  • Gallops, is beginning to skip

  • Walks on balance beam sideways

  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time

  • Throws a ball underhand at least 10 ft in the air

  • Rides a tricycle

  • Hops on one foot 2-5 times

  • Balances on one foot 4-8 seconds

  • Consecutive jumping

  • Walks up stairs step over step alone

  • Begins somersaults

AVERAGE SKILLS at 5 years:

  • Balances on one foot 10 seconds or longer

  • Walks on balance beam in all directions

  • Walks down stairs step over step alone

  • Kicks a rolling ball

  • Catches large and small ball with outstretched arms

  • Throws a small ball overhand and hits a target from 12 feet

  • Skips

  • Begins to jump rope

  • Can do a somersault

  • Can use a toilet alone

  • Swings and climbs

  • Performs sit-ups

RED FLAGS at 2-5 YEARS:

  • Not meeting developmental milestones

  • Doesn’t walk steadily, or walks funny

  • Walks on his/her toes all the time

  • Falls down often or has trouble with stairs (at 3 years)

  • Excessively clumsy

  • Doesn’t copy actions (at 3 years)

  • Complains of persistent pain or fatigue

  • Can’t jump in place (at 4 years)

  • Loses skills he/she once had

AVERAGE SKILLS at 6 years:

  • Rides a bike with or without training wheels

  • Jumps rope

  • Hops on one foot ten times

  • Catches bounced or thrown ball with hands

  • Walks on heals when asked

  • Kicks a ball so it travels 12 ft in the air

  • Swings on swing, pumping by self

  • Performs a push-up from knees or feet

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months - or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. Ask your child’s doctor about your child’s developmental screening.  The information presented above is a general guide to help you determine if your child is progressing at the rate expected for his or her age. Please keep in mind that each child is unique and develops skills at their own rate. If you are concerned about your child's development, a physician or physical therapist can assist with an evaluation.

This list of motor milestones was adapted from “Learn the signs, Act early” materials on the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) website and the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, Second Edition booklet. 

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