Motor Milestones

As a parent, it is often hard to know whether your child is developing normally, particularly when children develop skills at different rates.

To assist, I have created movement milestone charts for babies, toddlers and children between the ages of 0 and 6 years old. The information in these charts has been derived from the Peabody Developmental Motor Scale – Version 2 (PDMS-2) which is a nationally recognised, standardised developmental assessment tool. These charts reflect the ‘average’ movement skills of children within the specified age-group (50% of children having achieved each skill). The charts should be used as a guide only and should not replace movement assessment by a physiotherapist working in the field of paediatrics.

0-2 months old

“My baby is 0-2 months old. My baby can…”

 

Bend and straighten his/her legs

Bend and straighten his/her arms

Put weight through feet when held in a standing position

Lie on tummy, lift head/chest and bear weight through forearms or hands

Lie on tummy and look to the left and to the right

Prevent his/her head from falling backwards when lifted from lying

Look at his/her hands

Track moving objects like a rattle or a ball

Tightly grasp my finger in his/her hand

Grasp and hold objects like a cloth or a rattle

 

When to seek professional advice

See your child/family nurse, GP or physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your 2-month-old has any of the following issues:

  • isn’t moving arms or legs
  • isn’t turning head to look both ways and/or has a misshapen head
  • isn’t tolerating tummy time
  • isn’t watching moving objects like your face or a rattle
  • doesn’t notice his/her hands
  • feels very floppy or stiff

3-5 months old

“My baby is 3-5 months old. My baby can…”

 

Bring his/her hands together

Roll from tummy to back from both my left and right sides

Move arms and legs in smooth, fluid movements when reaching for a toy

Lie on tummy, lift head/chest and bear weight through forearms to see a toy

Lie on tummy and lift arms and legs

Roll from back to left and right sides

Grab hold of his/her feet when lying on back

Maintain balance temporarily when placed in sitting

Hold head in proper alignment

Reach for and grasp a toy

Shake a rattle

Bring his/her hands together and play with fingers

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your 5-month-old has any of the following issues:

  • feels very floppy or stiff
  • overextends his/her back and neck (pushing away from you) when cradled in your arms
  • stiffens, crosses, or “scissors” legs when picked up by the trunk
  • does not bear weight through legs when supported in standing
  • can’t sit with your help
  • isn’t rolling
  • has poor head control
  • doesn’t reach for objects
  • doesn’t bring objects to mouth
  • keeps hands in a fist most of the time
  • still demonstrates a Moro reflex (when baby is startled, he/she throws out arms and legs, extends his neck, and then quickly brings his arms back together and begins to cry)

6-8 months old

“My baby is 6-8 months old. My baby can…”

 

Lie on tummy, bear weight through one arm and reach for a toy with the other

Lie on tummy and push through both hands to lift tummy off floor

Lie on back, grab hold of both feet and keep hold of them

Reach for toys and play on his/her side

Roll from back to tummy

Use arms to ‘commando crawl’ forward

Sit without support

Transfer objects between hands

Hold two objects (one in each hand)

Bang a cup on a table

Grasp small itemsbetween thumb and finger

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your 6-8-month-old has any of the following issues:

  • isn’t rolling
  • feels very floppy or stiff
  • can’t sit or stand with your help
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other or keeps hand fisted
  • doesn’t reach for objects
  • poor head control when pulled into sitting

9-11 months old

“My baby is 9-11 months old. My baby can…”

 

Bear weight on hands and knees and rock forwards/backwards

Crawl

Scoot forward on bottom

Pull up to standing position

Lower to a sitting position without falling

Crawl over an adult’s legs

Stand without support temporarily

Take a few stepswhilst holding an adult’s hand

Maintain balance while sitting and playing with a toy

Move in and out of sitting

Clap his/her hands

Remove both socks

Grasp small objects between pads of thumb and index finger

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your 9-11-month-old has any of the following issues:

  • isn’t rolling
  • can’t sit independently
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other

12-14 months old

“My toddler is 12-14 months old. My toddler can…”

 

Stand up off the floor

Walk independentlyshort distances

Pick up a toy from the floor and return to standing

Crawl up two stairs

Maintain balance while kneeling up

Catch a medium sized ball when rolled to him/her and roll it back

Throw a small ball

Open a book

Stir with a spoon

Scribble on a piece of paper

Placecubes into a cup

Pick up two cubes in one hand

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your 12-14-month-old has any of the following issues:

  • isn’t crawling or crawls in an unusual manner
  • isn’t pulling to stand
  • can’t stand even when holding on to furniture
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other

15-18 months old

“My toddler is 15-18 months old. My toddler can…”

 

Crawl backwards downsteps

Walk up steps without support

Walk down steps with an adult’s finger for support

Walk quickly

Walk backwards

Lift foot and attempt to kick a ball

Throw a small ball

Stack 2-3 blocks

Hold a marker with thumb and index finger toward paper

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your 15-18-month-old has any of the following issues:

  • isn’t walking independently
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other (children usually don’t use one hand more than the other until closer to two years)

19-24 months old

“My toddler is 19-24 months old. My toddler can…”

 

Run

Stand on a line with one foot in front of the other

Walk sideways leading with same foot

Jump forward

Jump down off a step

Walk up steps without support

Kick a ball forward

Throw a small ball overarm 1 meter

Turn pages in a book, one at a time

Place shapes into correct holes

Stack 4-6 blocks

Draw a vertical line

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your 19-24-month-old has any of the following issues:

  • isn’t walking independently
  • after several months of walking, doesn’t walk confidently, has an unusual walking pattern or consistently walks on toes
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other (children usually don’t use one hand more than the other until closer to two years)

 

2 years 1 month – 2 years 6 months old

“My toddler is 2 years 1 month – 2 years 6 months old. My toddler can…”

 

Walk down steps without support

Walk up steps, placing one foot on each step, using a wall/rail for support

Walk backwards

Walk a few steps forward on a line

Jump off a high step

Walk on tip-toes

Run

Attempt to catch a medium sized ball by bending arms towards chest

Throw a small ball overarm 2 meters

Kick a ball forward 2 meters

Remove a screw-on lid from a bottle

Stack 10 blocks

Cut a piece of paper

Draw a horizontal line

Crease a piece of paper

Thread beads onto a string

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your two-year-old has any of the following issues:

  • can’t walk up and down stairs, even when holding your hand or a rail
  • can’t run
  • finds it hard to handle small objects
  • isn’t scribbling or trying to draw

2 years 7 months – 3 years old

“My toddler is 2 years 7 months – 3 years old. My toddler can…”

 

Jump forward with feet together

Jump down off high step with feet together

Jump over a small object with feet together

Walk forward on a line on tip-toes

Walk up steps,placing one foot on each step, without support

Stand on one foot for 3 seconds

Catch a medium sized ball

Build a bridge with 3 blocks

Build a wall with 4 blocks

Draw a circle

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your two-year-old has any of the following issues:

  • can’t walk up and down stairs, even when holding your hand or a rail
  • can’t run
  • falls frequently
  • finds it hard to handle small objects
  • isn’t scribbling or trying to draw

3 years 1 month – 3 years 6 months old

“My pre-schooler is 3 years 1 month – 3 years 6 months old. My pre-schooler can…”

 

Run fast with good technique

Walk forward along a line

Balance on one foot for 5 seconds

Throw a small ball overarm 3 meters

Use an underarm throw to hit a target with a small ball

Catch a medium sized ball with elbows bent

Cut paper into 2 pieces

Lace holes

Cut along a line

Draw a cross

Trace a horizontal line

Unbutton 3 buttons

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your three-year-oldhas any of the following issues:

  • trips over a lot when walking or running
  • finds it hard to handle small objects
  • isn’t drawing simple shapes

3 years 7 months – 4years old

“My pre-schooler is 3 years 7 months – 4 years old. My pre-schooler can…”

 

Walk down stairs, placing one foot on each step, without support

Hop forward on one foot then hop forward on the other foot

Run and stop without falling

Walk backwards along a line

Balance on tip-toes without moving feet

Balance on one foot without swaying for 5 seconds

Toss a ball overarm to hit a target

Throw a small ball underarm 3 meters

Button and unbutton a button

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your three-year-old has any of the following issues:

  • trips over a lot when walking or running
  • finds it hard to handle small objects
  • isn’t drawing simple shapes

4 years 1 month – 4 years 6 months old

“My pre-schooler is 4 years 1 month – 4 years 6 months old. My pre-schooler can…”

 

Walk backwards along a line

Perform a forward roll

Gallop

Jump and turn 180 degrees

Hop forward 1 meter on one foot and hop back on the other foot

Balance on one foot for 6 seconds then balance on the other foot for 6 seconds

Catch a small ball in hands

Draw a square

Cut out a circle and a square

Connect dots by drawing a straight line

Build a pyramid or steps with 6 blocks

Grasp marker with a mature grip

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your four-year-old has any of the following issues:

  • trips over a lot when walking or running
  • finds it hard to handle small objects
  • has trouble drawing simple shapes

4 years 7 months – 5 years old

“My pre-schooler is 4 years 7 months – 5 years old. My pre-schooler can…”

 

Jump over a rope held off the floor

Skip

Jump back and forth across a line

Balance on one foot for 10 seconds then balance on the other foot for 10 seconds

Complete 3 sit-ups

Colour between lines

Fold paper in half with edges parallel

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your four-year-old has any of the following issues:

  • trips over a lot when walking or running
  • finds it hard to handle small objects
  • has trouble drawing simple shapes

5 years 1 month – 6 years old

“My child is 5 years 1 month – 6 years old. My child can…”

 

Skip with good balance and rhythm

Hop forward 6 meters in 6 seconds

Complete 5 sit-ups

Perform 8 push-ups

Kick a ball so that it travels 3.5 meters in the air

Bounce and catch a tennis ball

Fold paper in half twice with edges parallel

 

When to seek professional advice

See your physiotherapist if you have any concerns or notice that your five-year-old has any of the following issues:

  • trips over a lot when walking or running
  • finds it difficult to participate in outdoor play activities with their peers

 

It is important to remember that children develop skills at different rates, so a child measuring up below ‘average’ is not necessarily a cause for concern. I have provided information on when you should seek professional help along with each chart. However, if you are worried about your child’s movement development at all it is important to have your child reviewed by a physiotherapist. After all, you are the expert when it comes to knowing the needs of your child.

For developmental delays, consultation with a physiotherapist is crucial as there is often a reason behind why a child’s movement skills are delayed. Causes may include poor balance/coordination/motor planning, decreased core strength, generalised muscle weakness, learning difficulties, floppy or stiff muscles and restricted or hypermobile joints. At Sarah Jay Paediatric Physiotherapy, your child’s movement skills and musculoskeletal system can be assessed and the causes behind his/her movement delay can be treated.

For Further information on milestones, the Raising Children Network is a government supported website which provides quality resources and information on childhood development: http://raisingchildren.net.au/