Gross Motor Skill Milestones & Toys That Support Them
We all know physical play is important, but do you know what milestones to look for when it comes to babies and children developing gross motor skills? Read these tips from Montessori educator, Christina Clemer, to help your child gain the physical and cognitive development needed to climb, swing, run, skip, jump and play and the toys she swears by.
As a parent, it can be difficult to know what to look for when it comes to physical development.
In the first year of a child’s life, you hear a lot about milestones like rolling, crawling and walking, but what about after that?
When should a child be able to catch a ball? How do you know if it’s normal for them to fall over when they run down that hill, or if their coordination needs work?
In this article, I’ll review:
- Gross motor skills and the milestones to look for
- The best toys to help develop a child’s gross motor skills
Scroll down to learn more!
Gross motor skills
While the CDC milestones are helpful for guidance, every child is different. Observe your own child’s development, specifically looking for progress in:
Progressing in these skills is important not only for things like running and climbing at the park, but also for developing posture and the core strength needed to sit in a chair and write. If you are concerned about missed milestones, you should always voice your concerns to your child’s pediatrician.
Here are a few gross motor skills to be on the lookout for, and some toys that can help your tot practice in a fun way.
Balance is the ability to control your body while doing something, whether that’s walking across a balance beam or sitting on a stool without falling.
Some balance milestones to look for:
- Siting without support by about 6 months
- Walking by 18 months
- Standing on tiptoe by 2 years
- Walking up and down stair by 3 years
- Standing on one foot for 10 seconds at 5 years
These toys can help your tot gain balance:
The Wonder & Wise Baby Activity Walker is the perfect way for tiny tots to practice their early walking skills! They will love pushing it around as well as exploring all of the fine motor fun on the activity side!
Balance bikes make it possible for tots as young as two to be successful riding around the sidewalks. These bikes don’t have pedals or training wheels, but instead, encourage kids to find their balance and use their feet to propel forward.
The Spider Rider swing moves in all different directions, creating lots of fun while helping kids practice balance.
This simple toy can be used in so many ways, helping kids practice balance at different ages and abilities.
You may think of lifting heavy things when you think of strength, but developing core strength is also essential for kids. It helps them play and climb safely and also helps them sit up tall and not fall out of their chair in school.
Some strength milestones to look for:
- Holds head steady at 4 months
- Pulls to stand at 9 months
- Climbs on furniture without help at 2 years
- Climbs well at 3 years
- Can do a somersault at 5 years
These toys help develop strength:
Rockers like this one encourage the use of core muscles, which is one of the most important areas where kids need to build strength.
Once your tot is steady on their feet, they can build strength by pulling toys such as this while they walk.
As your tot grows stronger, they can pull heavier objects, further strengthening their muscles. Encourage them to haul rocks across the yard to build a structure or even to help with yard work!
Endurance is the ability to use muscles over an extended period of time without tiring. Kids practice endurance every time they walk, hike, swim or run.
Some endurance milestones to look for:
- Crawls at 9 months
- Begins to run at 2 years
- Runs easily at 3 years
Here are some toys that can help encourage this skill:
Micro Kickboard Mini Deluxe Scooter (bigger version here)
Anything that gets kids out of the stroller and walking (or scooting) alongside you is excellent for endurance.
Easels are not only good for artistic expression, they help build endurance by encouraging kids to stand and reach while creating their masterpieces.
Coordination refers to the ability to move multiple parts of your body in concert, in a controlled way. For example, crawling takes a great deal of coordination as a baby learns to move their hands and feet in the right rhythm. For older kids, activities like jumping rope and playing sports require coordination.
Some coordination milestones to look for:
- Brings hand to mouth at 4 months
- Crawls at 9 months
- Kicks a ball at 2 years
- Pedals a tricycle at 3 years
- Catches a bounced ball by 4 years
- May ride a bicycle at 4 years
- May be able to skip at 5 years
These toys help your tot practice coordination:
Swinging is perhaps one of the great joys of childhood, but it’s also a wonderful way to improve coordination as kids learn to propel themselves through pumping. Combine that with a classic slide and climbing wall and you’ll get gross motor skills galore with this playset!
Pedaling a bike requires a great deal of coordination (as well as strength and endurance) and with the Little Tokyobike, your tot can do it in style.
Working to hit the balls across the tracks and through the hole is a fun way to practice coordination and a great game for siblings!