Gross Motor Developmental Delay

The first years of our life are critical to our growth and motor development. Exposure to multiple environments and diverse movements advances our children’s development and assists them in meeting important milestones. Sometimes our children have health-related issues that can impede their growth or motor development. Movement is important because it allows the child to explore their environment, assists with brain development, integrates primitive reflexes and is the foundation for meeting milestones. A child missing one or two skills is no cause for concern. However, when your baby is not reaching many important milestones it may be worth speaking with a pediatric physiotherapist about your concerns. 

What are the appropriate gross motor milestones from 0 to 12 months old?

Development Milestones: Birth to 3 months

Emerging Skills
  • Pushes up on arms and lifts head when positioned on tummy
  • Brings both hands to mouth
  • Moves legs and arms off of surface when positioned on tummy or back
  • Grasps objects but without purposeful control over release
Everyday Play Ideas
  • Tummy time
  • Carrying in different positions
  • Music with rocking or swaying
  • Looking at/grasping rattles and other simple toys
  • Bath and lotion
Red Flags
  • Flattening of the back or side of head
  • Preferring to turn head to one side only
Best Toys For This Age Group
  • Gym mat with arches and toys that dangle
  • Small, simple rattles
  • Balls that are easy to grasp
Next Emerging Skills To Look For
  • Rocking on hands and knees
  • Rolling

Development Milestones: 3 - 6 Months

Emerging Skills
  • Pushes up on arms when on tummy
  • Plays with feet and brings feet to mouth when positioned on back
  • Begins to roll
  • Begins to sit with support
  • Begins to rock on hands and knees
  • Reaches for an holds toy or object briefly
Everyday Play Ideas
  • Play in sidelying
  • Assisted rolling
  • Bouncing on adult's knees in sitting
  • Songs and fingerplays
  • Reading books
Red Flags
  • Arching when on back
  • Using only one hand to reach or using only one side of body
  • Keeping one or both hands tightly clenched all the time
Best Toys For This Age Group
  • Mirrors
  • Rattles & shakers
  • Soft books
  • Balls or other rolling toys
  • Foot rattles
  • Musical toys
Next Emerging Skills To Look For
  • Crawling
  • Standing
  • Cruising
  • Climbing

Development Milestones: 6 - 12 Months

Emerging Skills
  • Rolls independently
  • Sits independently
  • Begins to crawl
  • Begins to pull up to stand
  • Pivots in sitting to reach for objects
  • Cruises or walks sideways along furniture
  • Crawls up steps with supervision
  • Begins to take steps without support
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other
  • Releases an object from hand with control
  • Bands objects together
  • Holds out arm or leg to help with dressing
Everyday Play Ideas
  • Crawling on an incline or over pillows
  • Reaching for toys in sitting
  • Crawling to chase a ball
  • Walking while pushing a chair or laundry basket
  • Songs in standing - "If You're Happy & You Know It" or "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes"
  • Rolling a ball back and forth
  • Knocking down block towers
  • Reaching and bending for toys placed on different surfaces
Red Flags
  • Scooting on back instead of crawling
  • Arching back
  • Not bearing any weight on feet
  • Frequent standing on tiptoes
  • Not moving between positions smoothly
  • Not able to bring hands together at midline
  • Difficulty grasping and releasing toys in a controlled way
Best Toys For This Age Group
  • Balls and other rolling toys
  • Cars
  • Tunnel
  • Soft blocks
  • Touch and feel books
  • Standing play table or activity cube
Next Emerging Skills To Look For
  • Walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Scribbling with a crayon

*Every child develops at a different pace, this is meant as a general guideline only. That being said, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided a graph demonstrating the appropriate window of achievement for specific gross motor milestones. 

In a nutshell

How can we help your child?

  • Assessment of biomechanics and applications of alignment solutions using a whole body approach. 
  • Developing a program specific to your child’s needs including stretches and strengthening exercises. 
  • Educating families to empower them with tools they and use at home and approach issues with confidence.
  • Treating using TMR techniques
  • Releasing the muscles by using a fascia release technique
  • Providing tips and tricks to help you and your child
  • Incorporating the Neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT) approach in the treatment plan