1–1.5 years old: gross motor skill development

1–1.5 years old: gross motor skill development

Your toddler’s gross motor skill development at 13–18 months. Follow your toddler’s milestones step-by-step.

Gross motor skill development allows babies to exercise their balance, coordination, and large muscles. These abilities will help your little one master certain movements, such as sitting, crawling, walking, running, climbing, and jumping. Developing gross motor skills is also an important step toward developing fine motor skills.



Gross motor skill development: 1–1.5 years old

At this age:

  • Your toddler can sit unsupported for at least five seconds while turning their head to look at a toy.
  • They’re starting to walk on their own, first with their feet slightly apart and their arms spread wide, then with their legs closer together and their arms down. Eventually, they’ll try running.
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • They can climb the stairs one step at a time on all fours, then standing while holding on to the railing or your hand.
  • Your toddler can go down the stairs sliding backwards on their tummy. Next, they learn to climb down each step on all fours, and then on their bum. At about 18 months, they can go down the stairs while holding an adult’s hand.
  • They can walk while pushing or pulling a toy.
  • They can bend over to pick up an object on the ground without losing their balance. Toward 18 months, they can squat down for a few moments to play.
  • They climb on chairs, sofas, and tables, and can get out of their high chair or stroller without help.
  • Your toddler can roll a ball to an adult.

Over the next few months, your toddler will begin to do the following:

  • Go down the stairs while holding the railing and placing both feet on each step before attempting the next.
  • Push a ball forward with their feet.
  • Enjoy sitting on their toys.
  • Try to walk quickly and even run, though they may still fall and bump into things.
  • Walk backwards (around 18 months).
  • Enjoy sitting on ride-on toys and pushing themself forward with their feet.
  • Jump up and down with both feet together while holding on to someone or something (around 18 months).

How can you help your toddler progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your baby’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your toddler’s gross motor skill development.

Comfort
When you stay close and watch over your toddler as they play in the park,
 
they can safely explore the area and practise new motor skills.
When you baby-proof your home to make it a safe environment,
 
your toddler can play and explore with confidence.
Teach
When you go to the park or playground regularly with your toddler,
 
they get to practise walking, climbing, jumping, and running.
When you play your toddler’s favourite music or songs and encourage them to dance,
 
they learn to enjoy moving their arms, legs, head, and body to different rhythms.
Play
When you store your plastic containers in a low cupboard and let your toddler rummage inside and play with them,
 
they develop motor skills and a sense of initiative.
When you offer your toddler balls of various sizes,
 
they get to compare them and learn how to hold them (with one or two hands). They may also try to figure out how to throw or roll the different balls across the floor.

 

Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Stéphanie Boivin and Sonya Côté, occupational therapists
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: April 2019

 

Photo: iStock.com/bluehill75

 

Sources

Please note that hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. Physical Activity in Early Childhood: Setting the Stage for Lifelong Healthy Habits. April 2011. www.child-encyclopedia.com
  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien : de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
  • Ferland, Francine. Viens jouer dehors! Pour le plaisir et la santé. Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2012, 122 pp.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca

 

Comfort
When you respond quickly and appropriately to your baby’s cries,
 
they feel safe and cared for. They’re reassured and can calm down more easily.
When you cuddle and talk to your baby affectionately,
 
they feel soothed.
When you carry your baby in your arms, in a sling, in a baby carrier, or skin-to-skin,
 
you’re helping them get to know you (e.g., your smell, your voice) and their surroundings in a safe environment.
Teach
When you play calming songs for your baby or sing them a lullaby,
 
they enjoy these new sounds. Over time, this music will become familiar and comforting.
When you allow your baby to grab your finger while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding,
 
you’re giving them a positive tactile experience.
Play
By feeding your baby when they’re hungry,
 
you let them know that you can meet their needs.
When you smile at your baby,
 
they recognize you.
By learning how your baby likes to be held and soothed,
 
you help them feel calm in your presence.

 

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