Taking A Look At Gross Motor Skills

Taking A Look At Gross Motor Skills | Little Feet Therapy | Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

Have you gone for a walk lately?

Do you enjoy running, dancing, cycling, or martial arts?

Do you play a sport like baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, or tennis?

If so, you have your gross motor skills to thank.

Gross motor skills begin to develop from a very young age, and help you with the larger movements of your body.

However, if your child isn’t developing as quickly as their peers, it may be a sign they could benefit from treatment from a

Children all learn at different paces, so it’s not a huge deal if they’re a few weeks behind on certain milestones.

If the milestone dates have passed and they don’t seem to be showing much progress, however, it could mean they have a delay with their gross motor skills.

Pediatric physical therapists are trained to recognize and provide treatment for developmental delays in gross motor skills.

In the meantime, let’s find out more about gross motor skills.

What Are Gross Motor Skills?

Gross motor skills are the movements your child makes that use large parts of their body –their arms, legs, and torso.

These movements use your child’s entire body and allow them to do many different physical activities like running, jumping, and bending over.

Gross motor skills also affect your child’s balance, and a solid base of gross motor skills can help your child develop their fine motor skills like holding a pencil.

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Strength, reaction time, coordination, and awareness of your body’s placement are all related to your gross motor skills.

What Is A Gross Motor Skills Developmental Delay?

A developmental delay is when a child’s behavior in a certain area is not developing at a similar rate to other children their age.

If that delay is physical, it means your child could have a developmental delay that is affecting their gross motor skills.

As many as one in four children are at risk for either a developmental delay or disability, so it’s a good thing to keep an eye out for.

Your child may have a gross motor skills delay if they’re not hitting certain developmental milestones at the same time as their peers.

From the time they’re around two months old and should be able to push up during tummy time, to when they’re four and hopping on one foot, keeping track of these pediatric physical therapy milestones is important to make sure your child’s development is keeping pace.

What Causes Gross Motor Skills Developmental Delays?

There is no one factor that causes gross motor skills developmental delays.

However, there are some disorders and conditions that will result in these delays in motor skills.

When difficulties start early in childhood, it often signifies a developmental disorder.

This could be anything from developmental coordination disorder (also known as dyspraxia) to a simple delay.

Below you’ll find a few things that commonly occur with a gross motor skill developmental delay.

If your child has a developmental delay, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with a pediatric physical therapist as soon as possible, since early intervention physical therapy has been shown to be more effective than waiting until later.

1. Down Syndrome

Down syndrome, a congenital disorder that is caused by a chromosomal error, has physical characteristics that can lead to trouble with gross motor skills development.

People with Down syndrome often have low muscle tone, which is when your child’s resting muscle is longer than is usual, resulting in weakness.

If your child has Down syndrome, their developmental milestones for gross motor skills will be different, as it will take them more effort to build up the strength needed to learn them.

Down syndrome is generally diagnosed during pregnancy or just after birth, so if your child has been diagnosed, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with a Down syndrome physical therapy for kids provider.

2. Autism Spectrum Disorder

It’s not uncommon for autistic children to have some sort of motor difficulty.

If your child is autistic and appears clumsy, uncoordinated, or walking on their toes, they may have a delay with their gross motor skills development.

These issues can be detected as early as one month of age and will become more apparent as your child gets older and hits their developmental milestones later than their peers.

If you have an autistic child showing developmental delays, a autism spectrum disorder physical therapist for kids can help.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADD/ADHD, is one of the most common causes of developmental delays in children.

If your child has ADHD they may struggle with their balance and other skills associated with gross motor skills development.

This can lead to trouble with general fitness, as well as your child feeling left out if they can’t keep up with activities their friends and peers are partaking in.

Occupational therapy for ADHD near me can help.

4. Hypotonia

If your child has hypotonia, they have lower than average muscle tone.

This can cause them to have limbs that seem limp, which is where this condition gets its more commonly known name, “floppy baby syndrome”.

This weakness in muscle tone can cause gross motor skills delays.

RELATED: Pediatric Physical Therapy Treatments For Hypotonia

5. Other Causes

While being able to point to a specific cause of a gross motor skills delay can feel reassuring, there’s not always an obvious explanation.

Sometimes your child is simply not hitting certain developmental milestones, without an obvious underlying reason.

This is called an idiopathic developmental delay.

Regardless of the cause of your child’s gross motor skills delays, however, a pediatric therapist can help.

What Is A Gross Motor Skills Developmental Delay | Little Feet Therapy | Washington DC, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, St Louis MO

How Can Pediatric Physical Therapy Help?

Your pediatric physical therapist will work with you and your child to evaluate their unique needs.

By identifying their strengths and weaknesses, your pediatric physical therapist will design a plan with your input that addresses your child’s gross motor skills and works with your lifestyle.

Your physical therapist will focus on one skill at a time, helping your child gradually build up their strength and confidence.

You’ll learn activities and games to help support them in their development while making it fun.

With the proper support your child can safely learn how to navigate and improve their gross motor skills, keep up with their peers, and develop into confident, independent adults.

Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today

After reading this article, do you suspect your child may have an issue with their gross motor skills?

If so, Little Feet Pediatric Physical Therapy is here to help.

We’re here to help your child with their gross motor skills development, whatever they might need.

Book your appointment with Little Feet Pediatric Therapy today.

Little Feet Therapy
3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
St. Louis, MO
Raleigh, NC

Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.