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Physical Development in Children Ages 0-3 Years Old

author image Stephenie Labandz
Stephenie Labandz is a physical therapist currently specializing in pediatrics. She received her Master of Physical Therapy degree in 2002 and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2009, both from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn.
Physical Development in Children Ages 0-3 Years Old
Physical development allows for independent exploration. Photo Credit Steve Baccon/Digital Vision/Getty Images

During the first three years of life, humans transition from complete physical dependence to independence with a majority of basic self-help and mobility skills. While the exact timeline differs from child to child, all newborns share a gradually progression and development as they age from infants into young children. If you have any concerns about a child in your life, discuss them with the child’s physician.

Birth to 3 Months

Physical Development in Children Ages 0-3 Years Old
Head control is one of the first motor skills achieved by an infant. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Babies learn how to control their muscles and movements. Motor control develops from the head, moves down through the arms and the trunk and then to the legs and feet, according to an item on early development on the online magazine Parenting. At first, children's movements are reflexive in nature -- for example, turning their head to the side when you stroke their cheek. As motor development continues, babies will learn to interact with their environment. By one month, a baby can turns its head from side to side when lying on the back or belly, and can move its hands and arms.

3 to 6 Months

Physical Development in Children Ages 0-3 Years Old
Head and shoulder control emerge. Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Motor movement continues to improve as a baby approaches her first half-birthday. A 3-month-old kicks its legs when lying on the belly or back, and bats at and briefly grasps toys, according to Healthy Children. Between 3 and 4 months, he should be rolling with belly to back first, and by 6 months will be rolling back to belly.

6 to 12 Months

Physical Development in Children Ages 0-3 Years Old
Independent sitting allows observation and exploration of the environment. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

As an infant approaches her first birthday, her motor skills continue to develop and she can begin to explore the world around her. At 6 months of age, the average baby can begin to sit without support, and begins to stand with support between 7 and 8 months of age. By 8.5 months, infants begin crawling on their hands and knees, and walking with assistance occurred at approximately 9 months. The ability to stand alone takes a bit longer -- about 11 months.

12 to 24 Months

Physical Development in Children Ages 0-3 Years Old
Walking skills improve during the second year of life. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

By 12 months of age, the average baby can take a few steps on their own. Between 13 and 15 months, walking skills increase and he can begin to walk, unassisted, across a room. Playing movements, such as kicking and throwing balls, begin around 18 months, and at this time babies might start running, climbing stairs with assistance, and propelling scoot toys join the toddler’s set of mobility and play skills.

24 to 36 Months

Between the ages of 2 and 3, balance improves and the toddler walks with a smoother pattern. During this period she learns to stand briefly on one foot, walk backwards, and walk on tiptoes. The average child can jump in place by age 2, and is able to jump over objects by age 3. Between 30 and 34 months, toddlers begin to walk up stairs alternating feet without a hand held or use of a railing.Around 35 months, you'll start to see some prowess on the playground, and children can run and play with standard playground equipment. Playtime increases in sophistication as kids age, and by 3 years your child is well on their well to riding a tricycle.

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