Gross Motors Skills for Toddlers Aged 12 – 24 Months

CME WebsitesChild Development, Toddlers 12 - 36 Months

Gross Motor Skills for Toddlers at 18 Months:

  • Walk alone
  • Walk downstairs holding rail, one step at a time
  • Run in a hurried walk
  • Walk into a large ball to kick
  • Throw underhand in sitting
  • Pull toy behind while walking
  • Stand on one leg with help

At 24 months (2 years), most toddlers can complete the following gross motor skills:

  • Walk alone
  • Walk backwards
  • Lean over to pick up something without falling
  • Pull and push toys
  • Sit down in a small chair
  • Walk up and down stairs, holding your hand
  • Dance to music
  • Run fairly well
  • Throw a ball into a box
  • Kick a ball forward
  • Walk downstairs with one hand held
  • Squat in play and begin to jump in place

Suggested play to help a toddler between 12 and 24 months develop gross motor skills:

  • When your baby is steady on its feet, pushing a stroller can be more fun than riding in one. Let it push the stroller in a safe spot. Your child will feel so strong and powerful pushing it all by itself.
  • Rocking chairs delight this age group. If you don’t have a rocking horse or chair, let your baby use your body to rock back and forth. Sit across from each other and sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” while you’re both gently pushing and pulling each other back and forth.
  • Bring out the balls. Rolling a beach ball back and forth is a great inside activity. Between 16 and 20 months is a good time to show your child how to kick a ball.
  • Have a dance party. Clapping hands, stomping feet to the beat and twisting and turning are fun ways to strengthen muscles. Vary the music, wave around scarves and giggle!
  • Discover playgrounds. This is the time to introduce swings. Make sure to use the seat belt, then gently push your child. Remember to show it how to push its feet out when going forward.
  • Try laundry basketball. Get soft balls, small pillows or bean bags and toss them into a laundry basket.
  • Chase me! Go to your back yard or the park. Make a game out of letting your child run, and then you chase it. Hugs and kisses are a nice reward when you catch it, then switch. Run slowly and let your child try to catch you.
  • Give a wagon ride. Encourage your toddler to fill a wagon with its teddy bears and give them a ride. Don’t have a wagon? Tie a string around a box and have your toddler pull it.
  • Make music. Pots and pans can easily become a drum set. Or, get a toy piano or tambourine and let your child shake and bang its way to happiness.
  • Take baby steps. Learning to walk down steps is more difficult than walking up. Hold your child’s hand and let it slowly practice going up and down. The stairs of a small slide at the playground are a great place to practice climbing steps.
  • Make a pretend balance beam. Put a 2-inch wide strip of masking tape on the floor or sidewalk. Have your child walk along the tape, placing one foot in front of the other.
  • Get ready to bowl. Empty plastic soda bottles or milk cartons can be used as pins. Show your baby once how to roll a large ball to knock them over and your baby will be getting strikes in no time.
  • Be a frog. First, hold your baby’s hands and encourage it to jump off a low step. Once it has the hang of that, put something small on the ground and tell your baby to pretend it’s a frog and jump over the object.
  • Teach your baby how to drive. While too young for even a tricycle, a car with pedals can strengthen its legs and help it learn how to control large car/truck.