Physical Development Milestones 0 to 5 Years

Physical Development Milestones 0 to 5 Years

Every child will develop at slightly different rates, but most will hit significant milestones around the same age. When it comes to physical development, there are major developmental changes from 0 to 5 years. 

Your little one will go from being completely dependent on their caregiver to able to walk, feed themselves, hold and carry things, play with toys, and interact with others. It’s important to understand the typical physical developmental milestones that your child will hit to ensure they’re on the right track.

Physical and motor development in children mainly depends on three things:

  1. Brain and body development
  2. Motor control
  3. Self-awareness and education


Creating an environment that fosters healthy physical development is necessary for a child’s independence and mental health as they get older. Learning how to control their body will allow them to grow into someone who can take care of themselves, take care of others, and eventually become completely independent. 

There are two types of motor skills:

  • Gross Motor Skills. Gross motor skills involve bigger muscle groups – muscles that are necessary for balance, posture, coordination, endurance, and full-body movement. 
  • Fine Motor Skills. Fine motor skills involve smaller movements, like holding a toy, writing, eating, and brushing their own teeth. 

Motor Skill Development from 0 to 5

Here are the milestones for motor skill development from 0 to 5. Helping your child develop fine and gross motor skills will set them up for a healthy and successful future.

Birth to 6 Months

Gross Motor:

  • The first gross motor skills your child will practice are lifting their chin and holding their head up.
  • Next, they will be able to lift their torso and raise their chest off the floor.
  • They will begin to roll over.
  • Around 6 months, they can sit themselves up without falling over.


Fine Motor:

  • One of the first fine motor skills you’ll notice is a strong grip! (watch your hair and necklaces)
  • Moving fingers and toes independently. 
  • Holding, shaking, and pulling on toys.
  • Around 6 months, your baby will likely be able to hold their bottles by themselves.


7 – 12 Months

Gross Motor:

  • Your child will be able to support the full weight of their body by the time they’re one. 
  • This is when they start to explore crawling, standing, and walking (with assistance). 
  • By the time they’ve reached one year, they may be able to walk without any assistance. 


Fine motor:

  • Your child will be able to pick smaller things up, using only their index finger and thumb.
  • They may be able to feed themselves (with their fingers) and play with more intricate toys.
  • They learn how to put one toy down and pick up another.


1 Year

Gross Motor:

  • Your child will likely be taking their first steps, unassisted.
  • They will start to learn how to throw and catch.
  • As they approach two years, they will likely be able to walk faster, run, and walk backward.


Fine Motor:

  • Children will be able to hold a cup (without a sippy lid) with two hands and drink out of it.
  • They may also start pointing at objects, building towers, drawing, and turning the pages of books.


2 Years

Gross Motor:

  • Children start to run and climb.
  • They will likely start to shake their heads and swing their arms and legs.
  • At this age, they’ll begin to dance, roll, balance, and jump up and down.
  • This is the age when they’ll start to enjoy going to the playground and take advantage of the different obstacles, activities, and equipment.


Fine Motor:

  • Your child will likely be able to dress and undress themselves
  • They will get curious about opening doors, cabinets, and drawers.
  • They will likely start to play with water and sand.
  • Typically, children will learn how to paint with their fingers and/or paintbrushes at this time.


3 Years

Gross Motor:

  • Children will be able to walk up and down steps and balance on one leg.
  • Your child will likely be able to throw and catch a ball with greater precision.


Fine Motor:

  • Children will practice drawing shapes instead of just scribbles, cutting paper, and folding paper.
  • They will likely be able to button and snap clothing, dress dolls, and put on shoes.
  • Children at this age will likely start to show interest in household chores, helping with “big kid” activities, and cleaning their room.


4 Years

Gross Motor:

  • 4-year-old children will start to learn how to ride a bicycle with training wheels or a tricycle.
  • They will likely be able to skip, hop, and jump.
  • This is the time when they are more active than they have ever been.


Fine Motor:

  • Your child can follow instructions and copy things like folding, cutting, and organizing.
  • Children at this age will be able to play with arts and crafts with skill.
  • They will get better at drawing and painting and will be able to mold clay into shapes.


5 Years

Gross Motor:

  • Children at this age will have better control of their body and should be able to play sports like soccer, tee-ball, gymnastics, and swimming.
  • They will likely show a great interest in climbing, especially at the playground and in the backyard.


Fine Motor:

  • Children will get better at drawing and will likely be able to color within the lines and draw specific shapes.
  • They will get better at holding a pencil and may be able to start writing letters.


Meaningful Beginnings

Our childcare center at Meaningful Beginnings was designed specifically to encourage healthy physical development in your child. Our caregivers will help your child throughout every stage of their development to ensure they are progressing at the proper rate and are on the right track. Get in touch today to schedule a tour!

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Emily Pham

Infant Teacher

My name is Emily and I am an infant teacher. My aim with this position is to learn how children develop as unique individuals and learn how to support their holistic growth. I am currently a student at San Francisco
State University majoring in Child and Adolescent Development. With this experience, I am hoping to get a sense on whether I want to continue to work in the classroom or if I want to learn the administrative side of education. The experience of working directly with children is gratifying and I wish to create a safe space for children to explore with all of their senses as they develop their own personalities. I hope to be able to help build a strong foundation so that the children can have the confidence and ability to express themselves.