What are Gross Motor Developmental Delays?
Why are Gross Motor Skills Important?
Children need gross motor skills to hold their heads up, roll over, sit, and crawl during infancy. As children grow, they eventually need gross motor skills to walk, run, and skip. This development also enables gross motor activities such as climbing, jumping jacks, hopscotch, using tricycles and trampolines, and dancing. Children rely on gross motor skills for success at school, on the playground, and in the larger community.
Gross motor skills are also related to other abilities. These include the following:
- Body Awareness
- Physical Strength
- Reaction Time
- Foundational Stability for Performing Fine Motor Movements
What are the Gross Motor Developmental Milestones?
Gross motor developmental milestones are abilities to look for as your child reaches a certain age. Below are the standard gross motor milestones and the standard age for performing them:
Age Birth to 1 Year:
- 2 Months – Child lifts head and neck while lying on stomach during “tummy time”
- 4 Months – Child can roll over from stomach onto back, prop up on wrists and elbows while lying on stomach
- 6 Months – Child can roll over from back to stomach and sit without help
- 9 Months – Child can pull up to stand using furniture, pull from lying down to sitting up, and begin crawling
Seek assistance if your infant is unable to roll on the floor, prefers to turn head only to one side or has a flattened area on the head, or only uses toes to stand
Age 1 Year:
- By 15 Months – Child can walk and stand
- By 18 Months – Child can practice walking up stairs while holding an adult’s hand
Age 2 Years
- Child can walk without assistance
- Child attempts to run, skip, or jump
- Child can scoot on toy scooter or bike (with feet on the floor instead of using pedals)
- Child can pick toys off the floor and return to standing without falling over
- At this age, children can usually practice going up and down the stairs by holding onto the rail or wall or by holding an adult’s hand. The child will put both feet on each step.
It is important to seek assistance if you realize your child is not walking or sitting independently or always displays unusual behavior (e.g. up on toes while walking).
Age 3 Years:
- Climbs on and off furniture
- Uses pedals on scooter or tricycle
- Can hop, run, and walk backwards
- Can balance on one foot
- Can throw, kick, and practice catching a ball
Age 4 Years
- Can walk upstairs without assistance, alternating one foot after the other
- Can skip and jump with two feet
What Causes Gross Motor Developmental Delays?
Some children simply reach gross motor milestones later than others, and there is no known cause or long-term issue. If a gross motor delay is related to a medical issue, however, it typically involves the following:
- Premature birth that results in muscles developing more slowly
- Genetic causes (such as Down syndrome)
- Nerve and muscle disorders (such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy)
- Developmental diagnoses such as autism
- Hormonal causes such as hypothyroidism
What is the Treatment for Gross Motor Developmental Delay?
Treatment for gross motor delays typically involve occupational therapy, physical therapy, and sensory-processing therapy. Your pediatrician may also recommend a pediatric neurologist if the delay involves another medical disorder. If tests determine that your child has developmental coordination disorder (DCD) or dyspraxia, you may need to combine occupational therapy with regular at-home exercises. Contact The Warren Center to learn about a range of services for children with gross motor developmental delays.