Your child's movement skills are their ability to control their head, limbs and body, to sit, crawl, walk, run, jump and hop.

Health professionals often refer to these as gross motor skills. 

There is a range of normal ages at which children may acquire these skills. Children learn at their own speed. Try not to compare your child to others.

This is average age children develop movement skills:

  • Newborn. Their arms and legs are slightly bent at elbows and knees. Their heads will fall back a little when pulling to sitting from lying. The head should come up within about 10 seconds of being pulled to sitting.  
  • 6-8 weeks. Raises head and looks up when placed on their front. Can turn their head from side to side. When placed on their back waves arms and legs around.
  • 4-6 months. Sits with support. Able to hold head up without support when sitting. When on their front can raise their head and look around. Starts to roll, usually from back to front first. Gets into a crawling position.
  • 6-9 months. Sits without support. Rolls in both directions. Pulls up to stand and takes weight on their legs. Sits themselves up from lying down. 
  • 9-12 months. Stands up and walks around holding onto furniture (cruising). Crawls, bottom shuffles or commando crawls. Stands by themselves.
  • 12-18 months. Walks, at first will be unsteady with their legs apart and arms out but become more confident. 
  • 2 years old. Tries to kick a ball, runs, jumps up with both feet up off the floor.
  • 3 year old. Walks upstairs with alternate feet but downstairs with both feet on each step. Climbs. Can pedal a tricycle. 
  • 4 year old. Walks up and down the stairs using alternate feet. Cycles on tricycle confidently. Hops and stands on one foot. Kicks a ball.
  • 5 year old. Hops, dances and climbs. Slides down a slide. Can balance and stand on one foot for about 10 seconds.

Most children (8 in 10) learn to walk by crawling first.  Others bottom shuffle and others commando crawl (with their tummy on the floor). Some just stand up and walk.

Bottom shuffling children tend to walk later than those who crawl on all fours.

Please see the following section on when you should be concerned.

Babies:

  • Tummy Time. Lay your baby on their tummy for short periods daily when they are awake (NOT asleep). Put a couple of toys near them. This helps develop their head, neck and upper body strength
  • As your baby's muscle strength increases, support them to sit up and use toys to encourage them to roll and reach
  • Provide lots of safe space for your baby to move and explore under supervision
  • Support your baby in an upright position on their feet and put them close to things that will encourage them to safely pull themselves up

Toddler/child who is learning or able to walk:

  • Provide lots of space for your child to move and explore under supervision
  • Provide toys that your child can push or pull safely and balls for them to kick, roll and throw
  • Encourage your child to run and explore in a safe space. As your child gets older and their confidence grows, this may include supporting them to climb up and down stairs safely, climb on play equipment or ride a bike
  • Baby bouncers and walkers do not help your child learn to balance or walk

  • Delay in learning skills at certain ages e.g. not holding their head up at 4 months, not sitting unsupported by 9 months, not walking a few steps by 18 months old
  • Not learning new skills
  • Appears very stiff, with tight muscles
  • Appears very floppy like a rag doll
  • One side of their body or arms or legs moves differently or appears weaker than the other side
  • Repetitive jerking, twitching or writhing movements of their body or limbs
  • 6 months after learning to walk they are still very unsteady on their feet and this is not improving 
  • They were walking well and now suddenly seem unsteady

If your child is losing skills they have already gained you MUST seek help urgently as this is very concerning. 

If you are worried about your child’s progress please speak to your health visitor or GP.

The sooner you talk to someone, the sooner you can get help for you and your child. 

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across West Yorkshire with consent from the Hampshire development groups.