Your child's motor development from 6 to 18 months

Crawling, walking, gripping, standing... there's no point trying to speed up a baby's development. Each child is unique, and even siblings differ from each other. If your baby is healthy, it will develop in its own time.

The baby's balance improves after the age of 6 months. At this point most babies can sit and roll over, and they soon start scooting backwards, then forwards and sideways while lying on their tummy. The baby can raise its tummy by stretching its arms.

Learning to crawl
Soon the baby will be standing on all fours. At this point it is important to let them crawl and stimulate their crawling movements. During this period, the baby will practise intensely and may get frustrated when things don't work. But this usually passes as it gains better control of its arms and legs.

The baby will hold toys and use both hands to shake and hit them against things. Good toys at this time are kitchen utensils such as different sized plastic bowls, plastic mugs and ladles, toys that make noises and stacking blocks. Let your baby move about a lot.

Your baby will learn the most by exploring its environment. The best way to learn right now is by opening cupboards, sucking and tasting thing and exploring the surroundings under adult supervision.

Standing up
Once your baby has learned to move forwards by scooting or crawling, it's time for the next step: standing up. Babies usually start by pulling themselves up and supporting themselves on a piece of furniture or an adult. The baby gradually learns to stand up unassisted, stand up supported or move sideways. However, because the baby can still move around faster by crawling or scooting, it may continue doing this for a long time for convenience.

Learning to walk
For many infants, the next step is to start walking while holding onto something, for instance a parent or a baby walker. Infants usually have quite good balance now and can stand unsupported for a short time. Some infants start walking unassisted before the age of 1, while many take a few month longer.

After a while, the baby will discover that it can use its feet to transport itself, and starts putting one foot in front of the other. It uses its arms to balance. Many babies also practise going from standing to sitting. To begin with they will need to hold on to a stable object or an adult for support.

The pincer grip
Up until now, the baby has been gripping with its whole hand. Now it will start using the pincer grip, meaning that it grips things with its thumb and index finger. This allows the baby to pick up small objects with its fingers, and it will probably want to do this with everything it sees.

Walking unaided
Walking unsupported is a difficult skill that requires maturity and technique. It requires the ability to life one food and place it in front of the other one while maintaining one's balance and at the same time shifting one's weight from the back to the front foot.

The infant's first steps are usually stiff and unsteady with feet wide apart. But the child will gradually learn to walk, run, climb and jump. When your infant shown an interest in climbing, you can show them how to crawl backwards down stairs, beds and sofas. They will initially need to be supervised and supported from behind by an adult to prevent accidents.

Further reading:
Your child's motor development from 1 ½ to 4 years
Infant reflexes
Timeline - Your child's motor development from 0 to 18 months

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