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  • Writer's pictureTrish Gallant, PT, DPT, OCS

Milestones: What you need to know

As parents, we all want to know that our kids are developing in a healthy way. Unfortunately, these milestones can be filled with as much anxiety as excitement if we’re not sure our kiddo is reaching them in the right time. The truth is, there is a lot that goes into developmental milestones and therefore we're left wondering, is my kiddo on the right path?

The timelines for milestones are broad averages.

Kids reach milestones at different ages. Even though we've all heard this, it can be tough wondering if our kiddo will ever roll, walk, etc when our neighbor starting walking at 8 months. It doesn't change the fact, however, that achieving a milestone on the later side of the average or even late, doesn’t necessarily mean there is an issue. Having a skilled physical or occupation therapy assessment can help determine if there are underlying issues related to delayed motor skills.

Milestones develop along multiple neurological pathways

Kids need to develop and mature among different systems for milestones to be achieved. Vision, vestibular, neuromuscular (gross and fine motor) systems are just a few that are needed for a child to achieve their milestones. Factors that contribute to the maturity of these systems include genetics, time spent practicing and exposure. Determining if one system in particular is causing functional delays is key to helping your kiddo.

Kids go at their own pace

Influenced by personality as much as environment, some kids are more or less inclined to want to move. This is where noting developmental progress over perfection is important. Understanding how your kid operates is fundamental in setting up a program for your child to be successful.

It’s my goal to help kids reach their potential by empowering parents with the specific tools to help their children. Below are general guidelines used for motor development, by the CDC.

Birth-2 months

Raises head slightly off floor or bed when on stomach

Holds head up momentarily when supported

Alternates kicking legs when on back

3-5 months

Lifts head and chest when on stomach (props on forearm)

Head control improving

Some head bobbing in supported sitting

Rolls from side to side

Rolls from stomach to back

Random batting at objects

Hands to midline

6-8 months

Reaches to objects on stomach

Pivots around when on stomach

Pulls self forward on stomach

Rolls from back to stomach

Sits alone briefly

Moves from sitting to lying on stomach

Stands with support

Assumes quadruped and rocks

9-11 months

Sits alone with trunk rotation

Pivots and scoots in sitting

Creeps or crawls

Pulls to stand


Stands alone momentarily

12-15 months

Assumes tall kneeling

Walks on knees

Walks independently without support

Able to stand without support

Creeps up stairs

Able to start, stop and turn without falling while walking

Crawls up on chairs or other furniture


16-18 months

Walks up one step at a time with hand held or railing

Creeps down stairs

Walks with heel-toe pattern, seldom falls

Walks sideways and backwards

Run stiffly

Stands on one foot with help

Kicks large ball forward after demonstration

Manages riding toys

Good balance and coordination

19-24 months

Walks down one step at a time with rail or hand holding

Squats in play and stands back up

Jumps in place

Kicks a stationary ball

Jumps off 12 inch box with 1 foot leading

Walks on balance beam with 1 foot on/ 1 foot off

Walks up and down stairs alone

24-29 months

Walks on balance beam with one hand held

Stands on balance beam alone

Walks up stairs one step at a time with no railing

Runs well

Briefly stands on one foot

Jumps from one step with feet together

Throws ball overhead

Climbs on play equipment-ladders, slides, etc.

2-3 years

Walks down stairs step by step without railing

Balances on one foot 2-3 seconds

Jumps forward at least one foot

Walks on balance beam alone

Walks on tip toe when asked

3-4 years

Walks on balance beam sideways

Catches a bounced ball

Rides a tricycle

Hops on one foot 2-5 times

Balances on one foot 2-5 seconds

Consecutive jumping

Walks up stairs step over step alone

4-5 years

Balances on one foot 4-8 seconds

Walks on balance beam in all directions

Walks down stairs step over step alone

Kicks a rolling ball

Catches large and small ball with outstretched arm

Throw a small ball overhand

5-6 years

Balances on one foot 10 seconds


Rides a bike with or without training wheels

Begins to jump rope

Hops on one foot ten times

Catches bounced or thrown ball with hands

Walks on heals when asked

Swings on swing, pumping by self

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