You watch for the first time as your baby rolls over. Before you know it, they are on their knees, starting to rock, and you’re waiting for the crawling stage to start. Their first few steps are cautious and unsteady until they learn to balance themselves. Eventually, they become active toddlers who can run that develop into preschoolers with jumping skills. These different physical development stages are achieved on a general timeline, but each child develops at their own pace.
Developmental Milestones of Movement
Crawling requires a lot of coordination and this is why some babies may stay in the “rocking” phase (on hands and knees) longer than others while they learn how to move their arms and legs in sync. Some children may learn to “scoot” backwards first or instead. This first movement phase may appear as regular ol’ crawling, the “army crawl,” the “crab walk” (sideways), or the roll. Also, some children will go right to walking.
Walking begins as wobbly, unsure steps that eventually your child takes in stride. This is one of the milestones that concerns parents the most—whether the child learned “early” or “on-time” by their standards and now get into everything or the child hasn’t started to walk and the parent thinks they are “late.” Most babies will take their steps around their first birthday, but the age can range from 9—18 months. If your child is rolling, crab walking, scooting, or climbing stairs using hands, walking is close behind. As long as they are continuing to make progress between those skills, they are on their way.
Help your child along the way to walking by providing time to strengthen the back muscles, including tummy time, helping them learn to balance while leaning or reaching for a toy in the seated position, and let them walk holding your hands, occasionally letting go of one hand to encourage balance.
Running follows quickly after walking—pun intended. Once your child has learned that they can walk to a toy that they want, they will discover they can run to it even faster. Running requires even more balance than running and your child will learn about paying attention to the terrain (hills, valleys, and unsteady ground).
Jumping skills appear around age 2. Hopping, skipping, and jumping help to develop muscle tone in legs, feet, and ankles. When you child starts to show this skill, provide ways for them to practice safety such as holding their hand as they jump off the bottom step of stairs.
Should you be concerned?
Every child develops skills at their own pace. Even if your oldest child was walking by 12 months, it doesn’t mean that your second child will. He or she is an individual. If your child is missing the following stages (noted by approximate months and years), you may want to monitor them or discuss your concerns with their pediatrician.
- 4 Months—Pushing down with legs when feet are on firm surface
- 7 Months—Muscles are stiff and tight or are loose and “floppy”
- 7 Months—Doesn’t roll over in either direction
- 7 Months—Can’t sit with help
- 1 year—Doesn’t crawl or roll to move or drags one side of their body while doing so
- 1 year—Can’t stand with support
- 18 months—Can’t walk or doesn’t walk heel-toe after a couple of months of walking
- 3 years—Falls or has difficulty with stairs
- “Milestones: Red Flags to Watch For”
- “Steps Toward Crawling”
- “Learning to Walk”
- “When will my child learn how to run?”
Other Month of the Young Child blogs:
- Week 2 - Social Emotional - Building Trust and Healthy Relationships
- Week 3 - Cognitive - Exploring with All the Senses
- Week 4 - Language & Literacy - Communication