Do you ever find yourself comparing your child to their peers at the park or playground? Or maybe even comparing them to their older sibling? Do you feel like they are behind with their motor skills? What truly is “age appropriate”? In this post, we will cover age-appropriate milestones from age 1 to 5 years and what to do if your child isn’t hitting their milestones on time.
What are developmental milestones?
Developmental milestones are physical signs of development that provide information with regards to your child’s development. There are milestones for each age range that will slowly emerge over time. Each child will develop on their own individual timeline, so keep in mind that some children may skip over milestones, while others may need a little bit more time to get where they should be.
At 1 year, children are crawling well and begin to pull up into standing and walk while holding onto furniture (“cruising”). They may stand alone and take a few steps without holding on. At this age, it is best to provide many safe places for your child to explore. Using furniture such as a couch, coffee table, or ottoman is great for working on standing and cruising.
At 18 months, children are walking quickly on their own. They are able to pull toys while walking and climb up into chairs without help. At this age, you can encourage development by continuing to provide safe areas for your child to walk and move around. Provide toys that your child can push or pull and balls to kick, roll, or throw. Bubbles, blocks, puzzles, and books are great toys to use at this age.
Around 2 years of age, children begin to stand up on their tip toes to reach for objects placed up high. They are filled with energy—running, jumping, and climbing. They are now able to go up and down stairs while holding onto the railing or wall and stepping with both feet on each step. At this age you can work on walking backwards and ball skills such as rolling and kicking a large ball back and forth. Take your child to your local park or playground and encourage climbing and walking on different surfaces.
By 3, most children are able to ride a tricycle (3-wheel bike). They are climbing well,running easily, and jumping off of surfaces. They are also able to walk up and down stairs on their own, with one foot on each step. To encourage development at this age, actively play and exercise with your child rather than having them passively watch a screen or TV. Allow your child to help with chores and carrying things. Get outside and have your child interact and play with other children.
At 4 years, your little preschooler is able to hop on one foot and stand on one foot for more than 3 seconds. Most of the time, they are also able to catch a playground ball that is bounced or tossed to them and are showing improved accuracy in throwing4 year olds love to try new things and participate in make-believe play. You can work on these skills while playing pretend and building imagination with your little one.
Around 5 years, you should expect your child to run fast to a target and turn around quickly to change directions. They can catch and throw a small ball, walk on a balance beam forwards and backwards, and stand on one foot for approximately 10 seconds. They may be able to skip or this skill might still be emerging. In order to work on their motor skills, arrange play dates and trips to the park with peers. You can also explore your child’s interests in your community whether it be trips to the zoo if they’re interested in animals or joining a gymnastics program at your local gym if they love to monkey around at the playground.
What if my child is behind?
If you are reading through the above milestones and have concerns about your child, it would be beneficial to first schedule an appointment with your pediatrician for a developmental screening. If the child presents with suspected delay, your doctor can then refer your child to a Physical Therapist (PT) for an evaluation. A physical therapist can use a standardized assessment tool in order to compare your child to their same-age peers. If a delay is indeed present, physical therapy services may be recommended in order to work on motor development, strength, balance, etc.
Questions or Concerns?
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-332-9493.
Elle Faerber, PT, DPT
References: Important Milestones: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (2014, May 05). Developmental Milestones. Retrieved from https://www.chop.edu/primary-care/developmental-milestones
Your Baby By Five Years. (2021, May 17). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-5yr.html
Photo Credit: Photo by Joshua Choate from Pixabay