2.5–3 years old: Gross motor skill development

2.5–3 years old: Gross motor skill development
Your toddlers’ gross motor skill development at 30–36 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: 2.5–3 years old

At this age:

  • Your toddler can take part in group activities that involve running, jumping, crawling, rolling, and spinning.
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 take at least four steps on a narrow surface (20 cm wide).
  • They can slow down when running or descending a gentle slope.
  • Your toddler climbs up ladders and other playground structures with increasing ease.
  • They climb the stairs while stabilize themselves, putting one foot on each step.
  • They can catch a large ball using their whole body.

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

  • Take a few steps on increasingly narrow surfaces (from 20 cm wide to 10 cm wide).
  • Ride a tricycle.
  • Kick a ball (without holding themselves up) with increasing accuracy.
  • Throw a ball by holding it above their head.
  • Participate in circle games with several players.
Find out how to support your toddler’s gross motor skill development through books. (In French)

How can you help your toddler progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your toddler’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 encourage your toddler to try new things,
 
they have more confidence in their physical abilities and are open to new activities.
When you count out loud the number of steps your toddler climbs without help and congratulate them on their achievement,
 
they understand that you’ve noticed their efforts, and their confidence grows.
When you encourage your little one to throw or kick a ball at a large target or into a box,
 
your toddler feels a rush of pride every time they score.
Teach
When you engage in physical activities with your toddler (e.g., roll downhill, play tag),
 
they enjoy spending time with you and learn that exercise can be fun.
When you give your toddler colourful scarves to wave around while they dance and move to music,
 
they get to explore different movements and let the music inspire them.
When you do certain actions, like jump up and down or spin around, and ask your toddler to follow your lead,
 
they learn different movements by watching and imitating you.
Play
When you show your toddler pictures of animals they know (e.g., a bird, a cat, a turtle, a fish) and say things like, “Show me how you move like a fish!”
 
your toddler demonstrates that they understand how animals act by imitating their movements.
When you talk to your toddler about safety rules and explain the proper way to use playground structures,
 
they learn to take their time and be careful when playing at the park.
When you organize a simple obstacle course using cushions, boxes, and chairs,
 
your toddler gets to practise going around, over, under, and between objects.

 

Naître et grandir

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

 

Photo: iStock.com/garysludden

 

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

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