Growth & Development

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are actions and abilities involving the movement of our large muscles. These include movements of our arms, legs, feet or entire body.

Examples include crawling, sitting, standing, walking, running, keeping balance, jumping, climbing and changing positions.

Healthy Child Development

There are several stages of healthy gross motor skill development that are marked by key abilities.  

By 3 months

  • Holds head up when held to an adult’s shoulder

  • Lifts head up when on tummy

By 4 months

  • Keeps head in line with the middle of their body and brings hands to chest when lying on back

  • Lifts head and chest and supports self on forearms when placed on tummy

  • Holds head steady when supported in sitting position

By 6 months

  • Rolls from back to side

  • Pushes up on hands when on tummy

  • Sits with support

By 9 months

  • Sits on floor without support

  • Moves self forward on tummy or rolls continuously to get an object

  • Stands with support

By 12 months

  • Gets up to a sitting position from lying down without help

  • Pulls to stand at furniture

  • Walks holding onto other peoples hands or furniture

By 18 months

  • Walks alone

  • Crawls up stairs

  • Squats to pick up a toy and stands back up without falling

By 2 years

  • Walks backwards or sideways pulling a toy

  • Kicks a ball

  • Able to throw and attempt to catch ball without losing balance

By 3 years

  • Stands on one foot briefly

  • Climbs stairs using a handrail or with minimal support

  • Throws a ball forward at least one meter (three feet)

By 4 years

  • Stands on one foot for one to three seconds without support

  • Goes up stairs using alternating feet

  • Runs, stops, and starts without falling

  • Catches a large ball with outstretched arms

By 5 years

  • Hops on one foot several times

  • Throws and catches a ball successfully most of the time

  • Plays on playground equipment  without difficulty 

... If a child is missing one or more of these expected age outcomes, consider this a red flag



If a child is experiencing any of the following, consider this a red flag:

►  By 3 months
►  Little or no movement in legs; not kicking motion when lying on back
►  Unable to lift head when lying on tummy

By 6 months
►  Unable to sit using hands for support
►  Difficulty controlling head movements

By 9 months
►  Unable to sit independently
►  Uses only one side of the body to move
►  Legs crossed or stiff

►  Legs unable to bear weight

By 12 months
►  Stiff arms or legs
►  Not yet pulling to stand
►  Only able to sit with weight to one side

By 18 months
►  Not able to walk or stand independently

By 24 months
►  Not walking up or down stairs even with support
►  Falls easily

These Practitioners and Agencies may be able to help

Services and Information related to Gross Motor Skills:

Having more general concerns about a child's development?

Having difficulty coping? Need some advice?

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