Motor Milestones & How To Improve Motor Skills In Children?

by David Simon on Aug 26, 2022

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Motor development - 1 of the 4 main areas of development, is crucial to the growth of any child, as they enable the movements and tasks we do everyday. As we have learned last time, there are 2 types of motor skills - fine and gross. And while fine motor skills involve smaller movements, gross motor skills require the coordination of larger muscle groups. 

During their first few years, children are rapidly growing and developing their motor skills, both fine and gross. And with that comes certain physical activities that are performed at each different age. Typically, children would demonstrate these skills at similar ages, but it should be kept in mind that not every child will reach these milestones at precisely the same time. Now, let’s take a look at some motor skills milestones in children from birth to 5 years

Motor Skills Milestones In Children

Birth - 18 months


  • Grasp toys in separate hands and bang them together
  • Grasp a crayon or pencil and scribble
  • Turn a few pages of a big at a time
  • Feed themselves with spoon and drink with cup


  • Crawl
  • Sit without support
  • Pull self from a sitting to a standing position
  • Walk alone with feet wide apart and arms lifted for balance
  • Begin to walk up steps with assistance

2 Years


  • Wash hands by themselves
  • Hold a pencil in the dominant hand and scribble
  • Turn the pages of a book one at a time
  • Begin to draw lines, circles and simple letters


  • Kick a ball forward
  • Walk up and down stairs more independently while holding onto the rail or wall
  • Begin to run
  • Put together simple puzzles

3 years


  • Thread large wooden beads onto strings
  • Hold a pencil with the correct grip - tripod pencil grasp
  • Paint with a large paint brush 
  • Draw a person with a few simple features


  • Walk up and down stairs, with alternating feet or one foot at a time
  • Climb and runs well
  • Hop and jumps and makes rhythmic movements
  • Ride a tricycle 

4 years


  • Hold a pencil with a correct, adult grip
  • Draw a person with more details such as arms, fingers, legs, etc.
  • Copy letters, crosses and circles
  • Dress and undress themselves


  • Catch a ball with arms and body
  • Walk up and down the stairs with alternating feet
  • Run smoothly with changes in speed
  • Jump with both feet, and may hop on one foot

5 years


  • Imitate “writing” by copying letters or words
  • Pick up and handle tiny items
  • Draw with more details
  • Color a drawing and stay within the lines


  • Catch a ball with two hands
  • Hop and may be able to skip
  • Use eating utensils such as a fork and spoon easily
  • Some kids can ride a bicycle at this age

The milestones mentioned above are only some highlights to give you an idea of your child’s developmental progress, and should be used as a guideline only. It’s worth mentioning that every child is different, and some might prefer to grow at their own pace. However, if you suspect a child has poor motor development, please seek out advice from a professional.

Little girl playing

Source: Little girl playing photo by gpointstudio on Freepik

How To Improve Motor Skills? 

Now that we’ve learned some of the motor development milestones in children, the question is, how to improve these motor skills? How can parents help? 

Have tummy time each day

This is true for younger babies. Babies develop better muscle control when they spend supervised time on their stomachs. Spending time on their tummy helps babies learn to lift their head, push up, roll over, sit up, and crawl. You should aim for a few minutes each time, several times a day, starting right at birth for the best results. 

Challenge your baby

Put your babies’ favorite toys just out of reach to encourage them to grab for or move toward the toys. As your baby grows and gets ready to crawl, place toys up off the floor, such as on a couch. This will encourage your baby to look up, lift their head, and push up onto their hands and knees.

Let them self - feed

Once your baby is old enough, grabbing finger foods and bringing them to their mouth is a great fine motor skills practice. Eventually, your baby will learn to grip pieces of food between a thumb and forefinger. This habit will also encourage independent play and patience early on for these little guys.

Encourage free play 

As babies are naturally curious, they will actually exercise more, and spend more time interacting with objects when we’re not constantly watching them. Providing them with the time and space to engage in free play (supervised, of course) will be beneficial for them in the long run. It’s also a great idea to get down on the floor to interact with them while playing.