Skip main navigation

Physical activity milestones

Pa milestones
Physical activity milestones have been developed as a guide for adults to monitor the healthy development of children. Developmental milestones are typically ordered into a number of broad categories, including physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language domains. All children develop at different rates. This means that at any given age, some children will show competence in a skill, others will show signs of developing competence, while some will show exceptional confidence in a particular area. Developmental milestones a simply guide for parents and caregivers. The following video shows some of the developmental milestones within the physical domain. Physical development is rapid between birth and 12 months. A number of developmental physical milestones occur during this time.
Between four and eight months, children start to play with their feet and toes, and raise their head and chest when lying on their stomachs. Children will start to grasp for objects which are placed just outside their reach, and will roll from their back to their stomach. Children might also start to make crawling movements when they’re lying on their stomach, or start to crawl using both hands and feet. Between 8 and 12 months, children are generally able to raise themselves to a sitting position and pull themselves to a standing position when their hands are being held, or supporting themselves with a wall, or piece of furniture. By 12 months, children are able to poke, pick up, and throw small objects.
Also by 12 months, most children are able to cruise around furniture and move sideways whilst holding onto a piece of furniture. At 18 months, children are able to walk, run, climb onto chairs, and sofas, and up steps. Children will be able to roll a large ball using both hands, squat to pick up an object, and pull a toy while they’re walking. By three years of age, children will be able to run and climb easily. They’ll be able to stop a ball that is rolled to them, take a run off and kick a ball, and jump from low steps or over low objects.
Children will be to use steps one a time, balance on one foot for a few seconds, and squat to play and rise without using their hands. Children will have the ability to dance to music and stand on their tip toes. By the time children become pre-schoolers, many physical development milestones have been achieved. At this stage, children’s galloping, skipping, throwing, hopping, and catching skills will be developing, with most children being able to attempt catching a ball with their hands, or transferring their weight to forward when they throw. During this stage, children will develop proficiency in balancing and be able to stand on one foot for a longer period of time.
Children will be expert climbers of playground equipment and will be able to ride a scooter, or two or three wheeled bike. By five years of age, most children will have the ability to perform forward rolls, and swing, and climbing with ease.

Physical activity milestones provide a guide for monitoring the healthy development of children.

The following guide shows the types of physical activity that children may achieve between between 0 and 5 years old.

4-8 months of age

  • playing with feet and toes
  • laying on stomach and raising head and chest grasping for objects outside their reach
  • rolling from back to stomach
  • crawling movements

8-12 months of age

  • sitting
  • standing position (with support)
  • poking
  • picking up and throwing small objects
  • moving sideways (with support)

At 18 months of age

  • walking
  • running
  • climbing
  • squatting
  • pulling

3 years of age

  • running easily
  • climbing easily
  • kicking a ball
  • jumping over low objects
  • using steps (one at a time)
  • balancing on one foot for a few seconds
  • dancing to music
  • standing on tiptoes

3-5 years of age

  • galloping
  • skipping
  • throwing
  • hopping
  • catching
  • balancing on one foot
  • riding scooter, or two or three wheeled bike

5 years of age

  • forward rolls
  • swinging
  • climbing with ease
This article is from the free online

Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education