Recognizing Delays In A Child's Gross Motor Development

Gross motor development involves the muscle groups required for larger-whole body. It is the development of these muscles that enable a child to hold their head up, roll, sit, crawl, and eventually walk, run, and skip. Below are the most basic and typical developmental milestones for gross motor skills that should be accomplished by the age stated.

Red flags are listed and if present, indicate a child is having challenges that require the evaluation and possible support of a pediatric physical therapist and/or other specialist(s).

Gross Motor DEVELOPMENTAL Milestones

General milestones for gross motor development for children ages 0 to 3 years

By Age 1

  • Sits independently on floor and plays with toys (by 6 months, should be able to sit without help)
  • Gets to floor from sitting and to sitting from floor without help
  • Crawls on hands and knees
  • Pulls self up to stand using furniture
  • Walks side to side using furniture for support
  • Can turn head to both sides without head tilting

Red flags: Unable to roll on floor; needs support to sit on the floor; prefers to turn head to only one side; has flattened area of head; up on toes with independent walking

By Age 2

  • Walks without assistance
  • Attempts running
  • Can pick things up off floor without falling and returns to standing
  • Can go up and down stairs while holding your hand or the rail/wall, putting both feet on each step

Red flags: Unable to walk independently; walks up on toes; unable to sit independently

By Age 3

  • Climbs up and gets off of furniture
  • Hops
  • Runs
  • Able to walk backwards
  • Balances on one foot
  • Able to throw a ball and attempts to catch a ball
  • Kicks a ball
  • Alternates one foot on each step going up stairs

Red flags: Difficulty running; walks up on toes; difficulty using stairs; frequent falls

The earlier a child’s gross motor problems are identified and treated, the less likely the problem will persist or get worse. If you think your child may have a delay in his/her gross motor skills, contact your physician for more information regarding pediatric physical therapy services.

PVHMC’s Milestones Center for Child Development is dedicated exclusively to the developmental needs of children. Our focus is to help our patients succeed in reaching the developmental milestones that will allow them to enjoy more independence as they continue to grow. Our pediatric physical therapists evaluate and treat children having difficulties with gross motor development and many other developmental delays and conditions. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact Milestones at 909.621.7956.

Milestones Center for Child Development is located in Claremont, CA at the Pomona Valley Health Center. We will soon be opening our second location at the Pomona Valley Health Center in Chino Hills, CA.

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