Gross Motor Milestones in Infants 0-14 Months

Original Editor - Robin Tacchetti based on the course by Krista Eskay
Top Contributors - Robin Tacchetti and Jess Bell

Introduction[edit | edit source]

This page summarises motor development in infants aged between 0 and 14 months. While skill acquisition typically follows a specific trajectory, and each skill builds on the previous skill, every child follows their own schedule. Thus, this page provides time "windows" for these developmental skills.

Motor development and skill acquisition are discussed in detail here. It is important to note that motor development depends on the interplay of three constraints: the individual, the task and the environment.[1] Gross motor development is also affected by a range of factors, including:

  • Culture
  • Child-rearing practices
  • Household-income
  • Parental involvement
  • Infant handling
  • Opportunities to practise
  • Maternal education
  • Number of family members
  • Space for physical activity
  • Sleep and play positions
  • Equipment used[2][3]

Research shows there is a direct relationship between daily practice and motor development. Children who spend more time in active positions, such as prone and standing, have more advanced motor development[4] outcomes than children who spend more time in less active positions, such as supine and sitting.[3] For example, decreased tummy time (i.e. prone posture) during awake time limits an infant's opportunity to practise postural control and antigravity movements.[2]

Acquisition of each motor skill facilitates new opportunities for learning and exploration. Because infants are learning new skills in a body that continues to change/grow, they must learn "to adapt behavior to the current status of the body at every moment."[5] The following tables detail the progression of gross motor milestones during the first 14 months of life.

0-3 months[edit | edit source]

SUPINE Physiologic flexion of the hips and knees;

Unable to hold head in midline

Sporadic head to midline;

Sporadic cervical rotation;

Increased extensor activity;

Asymmetry of limbs

Hands to midline;

Symmetrical movement patterns

PRONE Increased physiologic flexion of the hips and knees;

Elbows posterior to shoulders;

Head to side

Slight head lift to 45 degrees;

Unable to hold head in midline;

Flexion contractures decreased

Able to push through hands;

Starts to lift head and shoulders;

Head lift to 45 degrees

SITTING Weight of head pulls the infant anteriorly;

Shoulders anterior to hips;

Unable to hold head in midline;

Wide base of support (ring sitting);

Needs a lot of support at proximal trunk

Pull to sit - head lag;

Not able to hold head in midline

Pull to sit - able to tuck chin and hold head in midline;

Vertical righting;

Weight bears through hands (propped sitting)

STANDING Supported standing;

Reflexive movement in response to stimuli on the plantar aspect of the foot

Begins to accept weight;

Astasia-abasia (inability to stand upright unassisted or walk)

4-6 Months[edit | edit source]

ALL POSITIONS Better head control;

Symmetrical movements;

Less physiologic flexion;

Developmental spiralling;

Better trunk activation;

Co-activation of flexors and extensors

Rolling with rotation (roll as a unit/log roll) Weight shifting;

Protective reactions

SUPINE Elevating hands to knees;

Chin tuck;

Using abdominals;

Supine to sidelying

Grabbing feet Hands away from body to reach for objects;

Transfers objects from one hand to the other

PRONE Cervical and thoracic extension;

Elbow extension when pushing up;

Elbows more in line with shoulders;

Good head and upper trunk control

Shoulders off floor when pushing up

Swimming motion;

Equilibrium reactions;

Scooting backwards;

Prone to quadraped;

Prone pivot

SITTING Narrower base of support;

No head lag pull to sit;

More extensor activity

Unsupported sitting Sitting without support;

Pelvis in neutral;


Reaching for toys

STANDING Early weight-bearing and more upright posture Hips and knees less flexed;

Appears bow-legged,

Ankles not in neutral position

Upper and lower trunk control;

Bouncing in a supported position

7-9 Months[edit | edit source]

ALL POSITIONS Roll with rotation;

Lateral trunk control;

Prone pivoting

Side prop position with weight through shoulder girdle; Crawling emerging;

Quadruped to half-kneeling;

Reciprocal creeping

PRONE Prone pivoting
SITTING Weight shifting;

Vertical righting;

Protective reactions;

Kneels with support

Unsupported sitting;

Narrower base of support

Sitting to prone position;

Sitting to quadruped;

Weight-shift to reach for toys

STANDING Pull to stand;

Supported standing on toes

10-14 Months[edit | edit source]

ALL POSITIONS More dynamic control;

Good core and pelvic control;

Reciprocal extremity movement;

Reciprocal creeping is faster and more efficient

Stands from ground with support;


SITTING Ring sitting to side sitting;

Weight-shifting and moving in and out of various positions;

V and W siting position

Righting reactions
1/2 KNEELING More upright trunk;

More stable;

Hand support on higher surface

STANDING Static standing;

Standing with rotation;

Co-activation of trunk muscles;

Stand with unilateral upper extremity support;


Modified squat

Standing without upper extremity support
WALKING Walking with hands held Stepping;

Hands up high initially

General Summary of Gross Motor Milestones[edit | edit source]

The following lists provide a summary of motor milestones in different positions. Average time frames for the acquisition of these skills are also given.[6]

Prone Motor Milestones[edit | edit source]

  • Forearm propping 3-4 months
  • Weight-bearing extended elbows 4-5 months
  • Rolling to supine 5-8 months (first without rotation)
  • Pivot prone 6-8 months
  • Crawling 7-9 months
  • Quadruped rocking 7-9 months
  • Extended four-point (bear walk) 7-9 months
  • Creeping 8-10 months[6]

Supine Motor Milestones[edit | edit source]

  • Asymmetry 2 months
  • Head midline/hands to chest 3 months
  • Hands to knees 4 months
  • Hands to feet 5 months
  • Rolling to prone 5-8 months (first without rotation)[6]

Sitting Motor Milestones[edit | edit source]

  • Sitting upright, lower trunk-support 4 months
  • Propped sitting, minimal support 5 months
  • Sitting without support 6-7 months
  • Sit well in high chair 6 months
    • Early independent sitting
    • Falls easily
  • Sits with arms free 7-9 months
    • Side sitting
    • Moves out of sitting[6]

Standing Motor Milestones[edit | edit source]

  • Stands with support, wide base 4-5 months
  • Kneels with support 7-9 months
  • Pull to stand 8-10 months
  • Cruising 9-11 months (first without rotation)
  • Independent standing 11-12 months
  • Stands up without support from squat 12-13 months
  • Walks one hand held 11-13 months
  • Pushes "walk behind toy" 10-12 months
  • Independent steps 12-14 months[6]

Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Goodway JD, Ozmun JC, Gallahue DL. Understanding motor development: Infants, children, adolescents, adults. Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2019 Oct 15.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tupsila R, Bennett S, Mato L, Keeratisiroj O, Siritaratiwat W. Gross motor development of Thai healthy full-term infants aged from birth to 14 months using the Alberta Infant Motor Scale: Inter individual variability. Early Human Development. 2020 Dec 1;151:105169.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Oudgenoeg-Paz O, Atun-Einy O, Van Schaik SD. Two cultural models on infant motor development: Middle class parents in Israel and the Netherlands. Frontiers in psychology. 2020 Feb 5;11:119.
  4. Carson V, Zhang Z, Predy M, Pritchard L, Hesketh KD. Longitudinal associations between infant movement behaviours and development. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2022 Dec;19(1):1-5.
  5. Adolph KE, Hoch JE. Motor development: Embodied, embedded, enculturated, and enabling. Annual review of psychology. 2019 Jan 4;70:141-64.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Eskay, K. Gross Motor Milestones. Plus. 2022