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Motor Milestones for Kids – What to Expect

November 22, 2023

Watching your kids grow is usually a magical experience usually filled with surprises and new discoveries. As much as you can prepare for it, parenting is a journey marked by various checkpoints where you witness your kid grow from one physical and mental stage to another. In the early stages, kids develop exponentially and fast.

As a new parent, it can be a rollercoaster of emotions when you constantly stumble on a new milestone your child has achieved. With the right understanding of what to expect, nothing should take you by surprise. This article will discuss, in detail, the motor milestones you should look out for as your kids grow.

Expect a group of kids engaging in motor milestones as they play tug of war on the beach.

Developmental Motor Milestones to watch out for

From the moment they lift their heads to crawling and riding bicycles with training wheels, knowing these milestones gives you a better insight into your kid’s development. The timeline is as follows:

Infant Motor Milestones (0-12 months)

This is the early and delicate stage of motor skills development. It is usually a series of small but significant movements that require keen observation. The natural progression usually entails:

  • Lifting Head (1-2 months): Although they are usually sleeping most of the time, you would start to notice the kid raising their head while lying on the stomach or turning the head to the sides while lying on the back. This stage is crucial as it strengthens the neck muscles, preparing the kid for further motor development.
  • Hands raising (3-4 months): Pushes up slightly on forearms and stays on the stomach better.
  • Rolling over (4-6 months): The kid can start rolling on the back to the stomach and otherwise. This usually signals increasing core strength and coordination.
  • Sitting up (6-8 months): At this stage, the kid can sit up independently without support. They can also reach for toys and other items while sitting and gradually start crawling on the belly. Most times, this marks an improvement in upper body muscles.
  • Pulling up (9-12 months): Here, the child can switch between laying down and staying upright on their own. Other signs include pulling up to stand and crawling on both hands and knees, as well as standing with both hands held. By the latter part of this stage, usually around 11-12 months, they can walk with one hand held and also stand alone for some seconds.

Toddler Motor Milestones (1-3 years)

  • Walking and Running (12-18 months): At this stage, the kid should be able to walk independently and gradually progress to running around the house for a good period of time. Other signs include walking up the stairs, squatting, and kicking a ball forward, signifying advanced mobility and balance.
  • Climbing (12-24 months): This usually entails the kid learning to climb stairs without assistance or the rails, walking and running better, and jumping in place with both feet off the ground. At this stage, the kid has enhanced spatial awareness and coordination.
  • Jumping, Pedaling and Building (2-3 years): Kids at this age can usually jump off low surfaces, learn how to pedal a tricycle, and have cognitive skills like stacking blocks and building toys. This shows improved lower body strength, coordination, and enhanced fine motor skills.

Preschooler Motor Milestones (3-6 years)

  • Fine motor skills (3-4 years): Parents will notice improved hand-eye coordination. It can be observed in how the kids draw simple shapes and use household items like scissors.
  • Balance (3-5 years): The kid gradually develops a sharp sense of balance and can easily hop on one foot.
  • Climbing (4-5 years): Kids are usually a burst of energy, and they most times start climbing complex structures at this age in the playground and even at home, which should be under supervision.
  • Skipping (4-6 years)
  • Catching and Throwing (4-6 years) This can be developed properly through activities on the playground. It is important for hand-eye coordination and spatial judgment.

School-Age Motor Milestones (6-8 years)

  • Refined motor skills (6-8 years): Kids develop more refined and precise motor skills for tasks like drawing and writing
  • Improved coordination (6-9 years): This usually manifests in overall coordination in sports and recreational activities.
  • Jumping and skipping
  • Sport skills
  • Bike riding

These milestones give a panoramic view of a child’s motor development from infancy to adolescence. It is observed that the progression is from foundational movements to more complex and refined skills. It should be noted that the timeline given above is not watertight and is usually a phase. Therefore, depending on the child, they can enter the phase earlier than expected or even much later.

Importance of knowing the milestones to expect

Understanding the developmental milestones of your child is crucial for various reasons. Asides from the fact that it makes you informed ahead of time, here are reasons why knowing what to expect from your kids aged 1-6 is very important:

  • Early detection of development setbacks: Knowing what to expect to be present in your kid at a certain age alarms you when it is absent. For instance, babies typically start crawling between 7 to 10 months, and that knowledge can help you decide to get an early intervention.
  • Enhanced Communication with Healthcare Providers: Visiting the doctor is a regular activity for new parents and guardians. When parents/ guardians are fully aware of the development timeline, they can effectively communicate with healthcare providers. Doctors can assess the issue better when parents express their valid observations.
  • Positively impacts educational planning: As kids approach school age, knowing what works for them at each stage is important. It helps parents collaborate with educators to ensure the kid’s educational needs are met by identifying their strengths and preferences.
  • Reduces anxiety: If you know what to expect as a parent, situations that would normally be anxiety-inducing will be handled better. Understanding the typical milestones in kids provides a good sense of reassurance and reduces unwarranted worry.

Raising kids is a mix of various emotions and experiences. To stay atop the situation most of the time, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the typical things to expect from your kids. That way, you are prepared enough to respond to any situation quickly and effectively.

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