Gross motor development is the development of the ability to use the large muscles in our body for everyday functions such as standing, crawling and walking. This can be seen in young children when we discuss their developmental milestones, these are a guide of where children should be at a certain age, sometimes they may complete tasks earlier or later and there are no difficulties. If there is a significant delay in milestones this can affect a number of factors and can sometimes indicate an underlying difficulty, this is always something to keep in mind.  

0-3 months 

  • During tummy time your baby will start to push up on arms and hold head up  
  • Your baby will be able to bring hands to mouth  

4- 6 months  

  • Your child will start rolling over from front to back and back to front.  
  • Can sit with support and will use hands to support self. 
  • Will start to accept entire weight with legs whilst standing with support. 
  • Reaches for toys while on tummy and can transfer toys from one hand to another.  
  • While lying on back, reaches both hands to play with feet 

7-9 Months 

  • Increase in control whilst rolling and sitting and can now sit without support.  
  • Whilst sitting the child can reach for objects without falling. 
  • Can change position from tummy or back to sitting. 
  • Starts to move with alternate leg and arm movement, creeping and crawling. 

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10-12 Months 

  • Pulls to stand and walks along furniture 
  • Stands alone and can take 2-3 independent steps 
  • Moves in and out of various positions to explore environment and get desired toys 
  • Rolls a ball in imitation of an adult 
  • Maintains balance in sitting when throwing objects 
  • Claps hands 
Baby Girl Clapping Hands
  1. 2 years  
  • Walks independently and seldom falls 
  • Squats to pick up a toy without falling  
  • Your child may still have a wide gait but walking/running is less clumsy 

2 years 

  • Increase in coordination whilst walking and running and can turn corners 
  • Is able to pull or carry a toy while walking 
  • Can climb up and down from furniture without assistance 
  • Walks up and down steps with support 

3 years 

  • Can a pedal a tricycle  
  • Can imitate standing on one foot 
  • Can imitates simple bilateral movements of limbs (e.g. arms up together) 
  • Can climb play equipment such as ladders 
  • Walks up/down stairs alternating feet 
  • Jumps in place with two feet together 
  • Able to walk on tip toes 
  • Catches using trapping object towards body.  

4 years 

  • Stands on one foot for up to 5 seconds 
  • Kicks a ball forwards 
  • Throws a ball overarm 
  • Catches a ball that has been bounced 
  • Runs around obstacles 
  • Able to walk on a line 
  • Able to hop on one foot 
  • Jumps over an object and lands with both feet together 

5 years 

  • Catches a small ball using hands only 
  • Able to walk up-stairs while holding an object 
  • Walks backward toe-heel 
  • Jumps forward 10 times without falling 
  • Skips forwards after demonstration 
  • Hangs from a bar for at least 5 seconds 
  • Steps forward with leg on same side as throwing arm when throwing a ball 

6 years 

  • Able to walk on a balance beam 
  • Able to skip using a skipping rope 
  • Can cover 2 metres when hopping 
  • Demonstrates mature throwing and catching patterns 
  • Mature (refined) jumping skills 

If milestones are not met there can be difficulties in the following areas:  

  • Lack of confidence in movement based activities 
  • Delayed sensory development due to decreased ability to explore the environment 
  • Poor muscle development 
  • Delayed play skills 
  • Decreased opportunities for social interaction 
  • Poor development of body awareness and movement planning skills 
  • Difficulty participating in sporting activities 
  • May result in poor self-esteem when comparing self to peers 

Gross Motor Development Books for Parents/Carers 

  • Busy Toddler Happy Mom 
  • Your Child’s Motor Development Story 

Gross Motor Development Books for Educators 

  • Gross Motor Skills Development 
  • The Little Book of Gross Motor Skills 

Written by Ruth Lamb