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Motor Development

From the start, babies want to explore their world. They are eager to move their eyes, their mouths, and their bodies toward the people and objects that comfort and interest them. Children begin developing motor skills at birth. By the time your infant is three months old you will begin to see development of motor skills. Your child will begin to lift her/his head on their own. They will play with their own hands. She/he will follow the movement of objects with their eyes. It's not too early to start trying to hand small toys to your child at this age. Even shaking a rattle for a few seconds is good practice.



1-3 Months

Most infants begin to:

  • Raise head slightly when lying on stomach
  • Hold head up for a few seconds, when supported
  • Hold hand in a fist
  • Lift head and chest, while lying on stomach
  • Use sucking, grasping, and rooting (holding tongue to the roof of the mouth) reflexes
  • Repeat body movements, and enjoy doing so

  • Roll over
  • Push body forward and pull body up by grabbing the edge of a crib
  • Reach for and touch objects
  • Reach, grasp, and put objects in mouth
  • Make discoveries with objects (for example, a rattle makes noise when it is moved)

3-6 Months

Babies are quickly becoming stronger and more agile, Most begin to:

  • Crawl
  • Grasp and pull things toward self
  • Transfer objects between hands

"Child-proofing" becomes important as babies get more mobile. Most begin to:

6-9 Months

By this time, most babies can:

9-12 Months

  • Sit without support
  • Stand unaided
  • Walk with aid
  • Roll a ball
  • Throw objects
  • Pick things up with thumb and one finger
  • Drop and pick up toys

1-2 Years

Walking and self-initiated movement become easier. Most children can:

  • Walk alone
  • Walk backwards
  • Pick up toys from a standing position
  • Push and pull objects
  • Seat self in a child's chair
  • Walk up and down stairs with aid
  • Move to music
  • Paint with whole arm movement

Balance improves and eye-hand coordination becomes more precise. Most children can:

  • Put rings on a peg
  • Turn two or three pages at a time
  • Scribble
  • Turn knobs
  • Grasp and hold a small ball; can use in combination with larger motor skills to throw the ball
  • Shift marker or any drawing or painting tool from hand to hand and draw strokes

  • Run forward
  • Jump in place with both feet together
  • Stand on one foot, with aid
  • Walk on tiptoe
  • Kick ball forward

Children become more comfortable with motion with increasing speed. Most can:

2-3 Years

Children are able to manipulate small objects with increased control. Most can:

  • String large beads
  • Turn pages one by one
  • Hold crayon with thumb and fingers instead of fist
  • Draw a circle
  • Paint with wrist action, making dots and lines
  • Roll, pound, squeeze, and pull clay

  • Run around obstacles
  • Walk on a line
  • Balance on one foot
  • Push, pull, and steer toys
  • Ride a tricycle
  • Use a slide without help
  • Throw and catch a ball

Movement and balance improve. Most children can:

3-4 Years

  • Build a tall tower of blocks
  • Drive pegs into holes
  • Draw crosses and circles
  • Manipulate clay by making balls, snakes, etc.​

Children's precision of motion improves significantly. Most are able to:

  • Use safety scissors
  • Cut on a line continuously
  • Copy squares and crosses
  • Print a few capital letters

Children develop skills that will help them as they enter school and begin writing. Most can:

  • Walk backwards
  • Jump forward many times without falling
  • Jump on one foot
  • Walk up and down stairs without assistance, alternating feet
  • Turn somersaults

Children are now more confident, and most are able to:

4-5 Years

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