Movement Milestones for Children 18 months – 5 Years Old

Preschool children don’t have fitness goals and standards like their older elementary school classmates. When we are talking about the 18 month to 5-year-old population in terms of fitness, we are usually looking at their movement milestones and how they compare to kids their own age. Listed below are common gross motor milestones for children aged 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years.

18 Months Old

Most pediatricians and parents know the big red flag that children should be walking by 18 months.; however, children at this age are typically doing much more than standing, including:

  • Walk forward independently 10 feet with narrow base of support
  • Walk backwards 5 steps
  • Walk up 4 stairs with 1 hand held
  • Walk down 4 steps with 1 hand held
  • Kick a ball forward 3 feet

2 Years Old

Between 18 months and 24 months, children become significantly more stable on their feet. They begin testing their balance in more dynamic ways such as running and jumping. A typical 2-year-old is able to:

  • Run forward 10 feet, without a loss of balance
  • Jump in place, jump forward, and jump down from a step
  • Walk forward, backwards, and sideways independently and without a loss of balance
  • Walk up and down a set of stairs, using a handrail
  • Kick a ball forward 3 feet

3 Years Old

Three-year-olds are ready for group activities such as school and sports. They want to make friends and connect with peers. From a physical standpoint, a typical 3-year-old should be able to:

  • Pedal a tricycle
  • Catch a ball thrown from 5 feet away
  • Jump forward at least 24 inches, with both feet leaving the ground at the same time
  • Stand on 1 foot for 3 seconds
  • Walk up stairs with 1 foot on each step

4 Years Old

The four-year-olds’ passion for discovery begins to emerge at this age. They are able to exercise for longer periods of time and should be able to:

  • Place one foot on each stair, while going up and down stairs without handrail use
  • Hop 5 times on one foot
  • Throw a ball at a target 5 feet away
  • Run and stop without falling to ground

5 Years Old

Five-year-olds learn through play and it is through this physical play that they develop higher level coordination skills, strength, and endurance. A typical 5-year-old should be able to:

  • Stand on one foot for 10 seconds, each foot
  • Complete 3 sit-ups independently
  • Jump over 10 inch hurdle
  • Hop forward 3 feet bilaterally

If you feel your child has difficulty with any of these skills or is unable to keep up with their peers, please feel free to contact North Shore Pediatric Therapy for a complimentary Physical Therapy screen or a full evaluation.



Andrea Ragsdale PT, DPT of North Shore Pediatric Therapy

Andrea is a dedicated physical therapist who is passionate about working with young children. She has a diverse professional background, having worked as a school physical therapist and also in clinical practice. Andrea has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of physical disabilities and is excited to help her patients reach their unique developmental goals.

Andrea obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Notre Dame and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California. She is licensed in the State of Illinois and is also accredited in Early Intervention.

In her spare time, Andrea coaches youth sports. As a former athlete, she understands the social, physical, and emotional influence of sports in a child’s life. She is very passionate about injury prevention and is currently developing a soccer program that combines her coaching experience with current research that aims to decrease the frequency of ACL tears and other sports-related injuries.