Hi everyone! I have been doing a series on my Instagram page on gross motor milestones. It is broken up by month, and I have shared ways to play at each month as well to promote motor milestones. These are only guidelines for typically developing children, meant for educational purposes, and there are ranges for every major milestone. If there is a month that your child isn't doing EXACTLY what it says they should, don't worry! Every child is different and unique, and as some children start walking at 12 months, others don't start until 17 months! Here are motor milestones for 13-18 month olds.
If you would like more information on each month, head on over to my Instagram page and check out my story highlights, where I provide even more info by video and ways to play at each month!
**This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy from them, the price will be the same for you, but I gain a small commission from you purchasing through my link! Thanks in advance for that :)
Your child may take independent steps as early as 12 months old. Some children don’t take independent steps until 17-18 months old. So, look for independent steps to happen, but do not be discouraged if your child is not quite ready yet!
Arms in high guard- your child’s arms will be high to help with their balance as they take their first steps. As they improve taking steps, their arms will start to lower.
Your baby may still be working on taking independent steps. Remember, there is a wide range for this skill (12-18 months), and every baby is different! Depending on birth history and any other pre-existing factors, it may take longer for your child to get a-steppin’ and that is okay! I like to remind parents of the ORDER of gross motor skills instead of AGE range in these instances, because if your child isn’t crawling yet at 12 months old, we should be focused less on walking and more on perfecting that adorable crawl! Remember, all of the skills that lead up to this point are important pre-requisites for walking!
When they lose their balance, they will not control that squat to the floor, but rather they will collapse down. You also may see their arms in that high guard position still to help with balance!
You may see your baby’s first steps! If not, remember there is a range for walking, and everyone is different. You may also see them creeping up the stairs!
If your child has been walking for a little bit, they may start walking while carrying a toy, they may squat down to play without holding on to anything, and run stiffly (it may look like falling forward).
Remember there is a wide range for first steps. If your child has been walking for a little bit, you will see less and less falls.
They will stand on one foot with support, like holding onto a couch or coffee table. They may walk backwards, and they may start walking up the stairs with a hand held- this milestone can be affected by stature. It is difficult to walk up and down the stairs if they are still longer than your legs :)
Your child may creep down the stairs on their hands and knees. They should move backwards for safety, NOT headfirst! If you need some help teaching your child this, head on over to my Instagram stories for this age range where I describe how to teach them.
Runs well: this does not mean your child is ready for a marathon, it just simply means that they are running without frequent falls or loss of balance. If you still see some odd things at their feet and ankles (toes turning in, etc), do not be concerned right away, as kids gait is not typically "adult-like" until up to age 6-7.
Throws ball: a lot of times this will look like flinging at first, and the ball may not travel far. Keep practicing!
Walks down stairs with one hand held: also depends on stature (see above) and strength/control.
If your child is not showing any signs of walking yet, please reach out to your physical therapist or pediatrician and voice your concerns. If they are close, keep workin’! It’s coming!
Popular Toys at this Stage
Since we are focused mostly on independent steps here, I will share toys to best encourage this skill and how to use it under to get walking.
Little Balance Box
I shared this in my last blog post, but I'm going to try to nail it home here! You guys, the Little Balance Box is far superior than any push toy or baby walker out there. Yes, your baby will still learn to walk with a push toy, so why am I recommending this one over those? The Little Balance Box was created by a PHYSICAL THERAPIST- an expert in movement! She created this for many reasons. First, I love that the top is see-through. This allows your child to use their vision to see their feet and what they are doing while learning to walk. There is also a spring mechanism in it to help child learn dynamic balance and proprioception. This box is designed to move across a variety of floors, and even if your baby is not yet taking steps, it has silicone feet to add so that the box will stay in one place so you can work on pulling to stand and cruising. This is just an amazing product and SO worth the money if you have it.
I do not get any commission for this, but I use the Nugget Comfort for SO MANY activities at this age.
Image from Nugget Comfort Website.
I cannot tell you enough how much I love this piece of equipment. You can fold and stack it into so many configurations to work on gross motor skills. For example, I have used it to practice rolling, crawling, standing, cruising, squatting, lowering from a standing position, climbing, learning stairs safely, sit to stand, and core strength. I could name LOTS more, but these are just to give you an idea of how useful this is! The best part- the covers come off and are machine washable! It comes in many colors and it is a great feature of your toddlers future play room as well.
I know what you're thinking- "Emily, have you gone crazy? What are we going to use those for?" I use these ALL the time for kids who are so close to walking but just wont let go of your hand! Put your child in a onesie (works better than pants and a top). Pop one on each shoulder of the onesie, just like you are hanging it out to dry, being careful not to pinch your little's skin. Instead of holding onto your child's hands to walk forward, hold onto the clothes pins! This allows them feel the security that you are still holding onto them, but decreases the amount of support you are giving them. You actually are promoting a more mature gait pattern because the child learns to use their hands and arms for balance rather than holding onto you. Such a cheap addition to your toolbox, and effective!
I swear by hula hoops while learning to stand and walk! To help learn to walk, place your child in front of you, facing away from you (may be easiest if you can get on your knees or sit on a rolling stool). Put the hula hoop around both of you. Have your child hold onto the front of the hula hoop and take steps forward with you. The hula hoop decreases the amount of support and it is also dynamic, meaning it moves quite a bit while they're supported by it. This allows them to learn their balance reactions. This is one of my favorite hula hoops because it can get bigger and smaller based on your child's size!
Not related to walking, but let's talk about ball skills. Having playground sized balls around is going to be important as your child learns to throw, catch, and kick. Any old dodgeball will work, or you could head on over to Five Below and grab a Frozen or Superman kids ball. For beginners, I like to use textured balls such as the blue and purple one above because it allows for a little bit easier grip when learning to catch. Here's a little trick (some may have learned this from the NFL): if you release some air out of the ball, it's a little easier to catch too! I like to have multiple balls around, because you never know when one may pop, get lost, or go outside and never come back in.
Do you have any questions regarding gross motor skills for children aged 13-18 months? Please send me a message if you do! Enjoy your weekend and play hard!