Skip to Content

A List of Gross Motor Milestones from 0 to 6 Years

Motor skills are a crucial part of development during early childhood. Here is a gross motor milestones chart, with a list of the skills acquired at various ages.

It’s important to remember that children develop at their own pace, so use these as a guide only. 

What are Gross Motor Skills?

The term gross motor refers to the large muscles of the body. Children develop the large muscles in their torso, legs and arms.

A few examples of gross motor skills are walking, hitting a ball with a bat, and climbing stairs.

What Activities Develop Gross Motor Skills? 

Gross motor skills can be developed by all kinds of movement activities such as playing chasing games, singing action rhymes, playing with gross motor toys and playing on a playground.

During early childhood, gross motor skills are developed mainly by play, so it’s good to encourage kids to play

Parents and teachers can also plan gross motor activities to work on specific skills such as balance, midline crossing or strength. 

Young babies play by exploring their environment and with time, they learn to master skills such as sitting, standing and eventually, walking. 

Gross Motor Milestones by Age

What are the gross motor skills for each age? Here is a simple breakdown.

The milestones listed below are a summary from the books “Language and School Readiness”, written by Martie Pieterse, and “From Birth to Five Years: Children’s Developmental Progress”, by Mary Sheridan.

Newborns to 10 Weeks

  • Turns head sideways only
  • Makes spontaneous, jerky movements with legs and arms
  • Enjoys stretching
  • Keeps the head still when being held up from 8 weeks

3 to 6 Months

  • Has more control over the body and makes smoother movements
  • Lifts head and chest when lying on tummy 
  • Stretches arms out
  • Brings hands together over the midline of the body
  • Practises rolling over onto tummy or back
  • Sits with support
  • Turns in all directions
Little baby doing tummy time and holding head up

6 to 9 Months

  • Lifts head to look at feet when lying on back and grasps one foot (later two feet)
  • Learns to sit independently but may need support
  • Rolls over from back onto tummy
  • Turns around to grab a toy
  • Sits and plays with toys or moves around by rolling over
  • Holds weight on legs and bounces up and down when held in a standing position

9 to 12 Months

  • Sits unsupported
  • Starts crawling and pulling self forward, or rolls and wriggles to move
  • Uses furniture to pull to standing but cannot lower self
  • Takes a few steps when held standing
  • Some babies begin walking during this stage

12 to 15 Months

  • Gets into a sitting position from lying down
  • Stands independently
  • Crawls on hands or knees, on all fours (without knees touching the ground) or shuffles to get around
  • May crawl upstairs
  • Pulls to standing and sits down again
  • Steps sideways around furniture
  • Walks with one hand held
  • Stands alone for a few moments and may take a few steps
  • Starts walking (the average age of walking is between 13 and 15 months) 
Baby learning to walk with help from mom

15 to 18 Months

  • Walks alone with feet wide apart and arms lifted for balance
  • Often falls or bumps into furniture
  • Kneels without support
  • Can get onto feet independently
  • Can get upstairs and sometimes down again by going backwards

18 Months

  • Walks backwards and forwards
  • Walks without raising arms, feet closer together and stopping and starting safely
  • Runs but finds it difficult to negotiate obstacles
  • Sits on a small chair
  • Pushes and pulls large toys or boxes
  • Carries a doll or teddy bear while walking
  • Climbs up forwards onto an adult chair, then turns around to sit
  • Walks up and down stairs with help
  • Squats to pick up something from the floor

2 Years

  • Stops and starts easily while running and avoids obstacles
  • Climbs onto furniture and can get down again
  • Shows a greater understanding of size of self in relation to other objects and spaces, as well as an understanding of where they are positioned
  • Walks up and down stairs while holding onto the rail or wall
  • Throws a small ball forwards without losing balance
  • Tries to kick a large ball but walks into it
  • Sits on and steers a tricycle but pushes forward with feet on the floor instead of using the pedals
Toddler climbing down the ladder of a jungle gym

2 and a Half Years

  • Climbs simple playground equipment
  • Squats without losing balance
  • Walks along a narrow wall or balancing beam while holding a hand
  • Jumps off a low step or over an obstacle with two feet together 
  • Stands or hops on one leg briefly
  • Stands on tiptoes if shown
  • Pushes and pulls large toys, but still learning to steer around obstacles
  • Aims and throws a ball stiffly from body level
  • Kicks large ball gently without losing balance

3 to 4 Years 

  • Rides a tricycle, steering around wide corners
  • Hops and jumps and makes rhythmic movements
  • Plays ball games and catches a large ball with stiff arms
  • Walks heel-toe, heel-toe and on tiptoes
  • Walks forwards, backwards and sideways
  • Walks up stairs with alternating feet and down with two feet to a step, often jumping off the last step with feet together
  • Stands on one leg briefly and hops on one leg a few times
  • Carries a large toy up and down stairs
  • Can avoid corners and obstacles while running and pushing and pulling large toys
  • Understands size and movement of own body in relation to the environment – objects and space
  • Runs forwards and backwards, stopping suddenly and turning sharply
  • Throws a ball at a target
Toddler pushing a small wheelbarrow

4 to 5 Years 

  • Walks up and down stairs in an adult fashion
  • Has a good understanding of position in space and can move easily when running around obstacles and people, and turning sharp corners
  • Navigates a tricycle easily, turning sharply
  • Stands on one leg and hops on one foot for several seconds
  • Climbs ladders and trees
  • Swings independently
  • Stands, runs and walks on tiptoes
  • Walks alone along a balancing beam
  • Sits with knees crossed
  • Develops ball skills such as hitting, throwing, catching (large ball), using a bat, kicking, bouncing, etc.
  • Jumps on a trampoline and attempts somersaults
  • Can learn to swim, dance and roller-skate
Child balancing while walking across wooden tree stumps

5 to 6 Years

  • Walks along a narrow line
  • Walks forwards, backwards and sideways along a balancing beam or wall
  • Runs lightly on toes
  • Skips on alternate feet
  • Can hop a few metres forwards on each foot, and can stand on each foot for about 10 seconds with arms folded
  • Becomes skilful at large movements such as climbing, sliding, digging, etc.
  • Bends over to touch toes without bending knees
  • Moves rhythmically to music
  • Plays all kinds of ball games, including those with rules
  • Hits a ball on a rope with a bat (swing ball)
  • Catches a bean bag with one hand
  • Kicks a rolling ball
  • Dribbles a ball
  • Bounces and catches a bounced ball with two hands
  • Marches to the beat of music and learns simple dance steps
  • Some can ride a bicycle at this age but may fall off at times

Use this list of gross motor developmental milestones as a guideline only. If you suspect a child has poor motor development, seek out advice from a professional.

Learn more about gross motor skills for preschoolers.

Young child pushing wheelbarrow. Text reads "Gross motor milestones for 0-6 year olds".

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.