Developmental Milestones (page 3)
What physical skills should your child be developing and when? What are appropriate games and activities you can play with your child to develop these new skills and encourage physical activity?
Watching your baby learn to roll, crawl, stand, walk, and run is an amazing process! With every age your child has a new task to learn and a physical challenge to overcome. As a parent, you can help your child grow into an active, healthy young person by encouraging these new physical skills by playing, walking, and exploring with your child.
These developmental milestones are a rough guide to your child’s physical development. Remember, each child grows differently and learns skills at a different rate, so if your child is not following these milestones exactly, don’t worry. However, if you think your child is lagging behind significantly, be sure to talk to your pediatrician. The suggested activities for you to play with your child at different ages are also simply suggestions. Some may not work for you and your child, and some children may be ready earlier or later for the recommended games and activities. The important part is that you spend time playing with your child. Let him be physically active while using the new skills and growing muscles of his body.
By 3-4 months
Your child brings his hands together, moves his head side to side, lifts his head and chest when lying on his stomach, follows moving objects or people, wiggles and kicks, and grasps fingers and toys.
What you can do: Gently move your baby’s arms and legs to encourage bending and stretching during bath time or play time. Avoid leaving your child in a baby swing, car seat or carrier for long periods of time except when he’s sleeping. This discourages his moving and learning to use his body and muscles. Let your child move around when he’s being supervised so that he can experiment with his body and use his muscles.
By 6 months
Your baby can hold his head up, roll from his back to his tummy, and is learning to sit up on his own. If supported he can stand up, and he’s learning to bang toys together and play with his fingers and toes.
What you can do Give your baby toys and fingers to hold onto, push, and pull. Play with his hands and feet and tickle him gently. Give him space to move around when he’s being watched. Help him stand up and learn to balance on his own legs.
By 1 year
Your baby can sit on his own and is learning to walk.
What you can do Provide your child lots of safe space to crawl around and things to hold onto so he can pull himself up to stand. Help him walk and then let him balance on his own. Play hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo, and tickling games. Build things with toys and give him lots of things to hold onto, squeeze, and carry.
By 2 years
Your child is learning to walk up stairs and backwards. He is sitting and squatting, throwing and running.
What you can do Provide safe places for your child to run, climb, and explore. Play games like hide-and-seek and peek-a-boo, and let your child play with toys that can be lifted, banged together, and thrown. Go on walks together. Listen to music and clap and dance to the beat. Your child can play in the water with proper flotation and constant supervision.
By 3 years
Your child can jump, throw and catch large balls, is learning to ride a tricycle and pedal, and is alternating feet when walking up steps.
What you can do: Play games with your child like catch (with a soft, large ball), hide-and-seek, tag, and hopscotch. Spend time helping your child learn to skip and ride his tricycle. Provide safe areas for your child to run, climb, and explore. Go to the park, zoo, and playground together. Listen to music and clap and dance to the beat. Your child may even be learning to swim!
By 4 years
Your child is hopping, skipping, and running, alternating feet while going down stairs, catching, tumbling, and tiptoeing.
What you can do Play games that require movement and coordination, like Simon Says, follow-the-leader, tag, and jumping rope. Take your child to the park, zoo, on short hikes, and to the playground. Ride bicycles together. Go swimming together. Garden together. Fly a kite. Arrange playtime with other children.
By 5 years
Your child is running, hopping, jumping, swimming, throwing, catching, bicycling, and swinging a bat.
What you can do Give your child lots of opportunities to play games, run around, ride the bicycle, and swim. Invite other children to play with your child. Go exploring together; try out children’s museums and parks, playgrounds, and nature trails, even miniature golf! Your child may be ready to become involved in organized sports such as soccer, baseball, or dance. For more information on getting your child involved in sports, see Organized Sports (link).
For more information on developmental milestones, visit these web sites.
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NAPSE)
NAPSE is a nonprofit organization that develops and supports quality sport and physical activity programs that promote healthy behaviors and individual well-being. This organization provides physical activity guidelines for infants and toddlers.
Success by 6
Success by 6 is a public and private partnership committed to ensuring that every child is healthy, safe, nurtured, and ready to succeed in school by age six.
Zero to Three
This national nonprofit organization works to promote the healthy development of infants and toddlers by supporting and strengthening families, communities, and those who work on their behalf. This site has information on developmental milestones, play, and many other topics, which are listed alphabetically.
If you think your child may have a disability, see the American Academy of Pediatrics article on Developmental Disabilities.
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