8 gross motor skills milestones you should know about

Through any development cycle, milestones exist to mark the various stages along the way. Milestones are relevant when learning any new skill. They help us to track progress and recognise reaching each new level as we work towards the end goal.

Developing gross motor skills is an important part of childhood development and as you would expect, there are many milestones children achieve as part of this journey.  Gross motor skills require whole body movement and involve coordinated function of the core muscles of the body to perform daily activities. This includes basic activities such as walking, standing, running, jumping, or sitting upright at the dinner table, and involves hand-eye coordination skills when participating in outdoor activities such as kicking or marking a football, riding a pushbike, skateboarding, or swimming.

When children are developing gross motor skills, the following eight milestones typically occur around these stages in life. To make things easy for you, we have broken down the milestones below:

0 – 6 months

  • Your child is rolling over from front to back/back to front and can sit with support/sit independently.

6 – 12 months

  • Your child is crawling or moving forward on their belly, assumes a seated position unaided, pulls self to stand, and may creep on their hands and knees.

18 months

  • Your child crawls and walks independently, and is starting to climb on furniture.

2 years

  • Your child is walking smoothly and starting to develop agility, starting to run, can pick up toys without losing balance or falling over, and may be able to walk up and down steps with support.

3 years

  • Your child is pedalling a tricycle, jumping in place with two feet together, walking on their tip toes, climbing ladders, and may be able to stand and balance on one foot.

4 years

  • Your child can kick a ball forward, throw a ball overarm, run around obstacles, walk on a straight line, hop on one foot, and stand balancing on one foot for a few seconds.

6 years

  • Your child is developing more mature ball skills and can catch a small ball using their hands. They can hang swinging on a bar in the playground and is starting to skip and gallop.

7 years

  • Your child should be confidently using a fork and knife to eat a meal, easily use scissors to cut, assemble a small puzzle, or build an advanced structure using building blocks.

While these are general timeframes, of course everyone is different, and some children will develop these skills at a different pace to their peers.

Fortunately, as parents we can help and guide our children to achieve many of these milestones and skills without a superhuman effort. Part of encouraging the start of independence towards these essential life skills is to gradually ease the control over to your child. Start early by doing things like giving them a fork instead of hand feeding at mealtimes, which will help them begin to get used to the feel of a tool in their hand. It will be messy at first – that’s all part of the fun! Children love to feel and touch and play while tasting those early foods.

You can also let them take control of their toys or show them how to correctly place a puzzle piece, and then hand it back so that they can have a turn. The human brain is truly amazing, and children will put it to work to learn an incredible amount in a very short time! Their brains really are hungry little sponges and they’re watching us all the time!

Encourage your little one to have a go at home with some small things to start. You are likely to be amazed, and this will be the start of many delightful experiences you will have the joy of sharing over the next 18 years or so!

If you have any concerns with your child’s development, or questions about these milestones, please contact us. We are here to help. You can directly reach out to one of our friendly paediatricians here. We are here to help!

Adelaide Paediatrics – Helping Children and Families Thrive

Adelaide Paediatrics’ doctors, allied health professionals and staff care about your family and what you are going through. We take the time to listen and understand so that you feel supported and empowered as we work together to care for your child. We know that sometimes medical issues in children cannot wait, so if an appointment is required urgently, we will accommodate as best we can and can usually offer an urgent appointment with a paediatrician within 7 days.

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