My Child is Walking! Now What?
by Jeanette Mangano, PT, DPT, PCS
Kids Place West Pediatric Physical Therapist

Your new baby begins to walk for the first time! How exciting! Walking is a very important motor milestone for many families. But after your child begins to walk – now what? Often, we are asked what comes next. Motor milestones after walking become less clear cut with longer ranges of time in between milestones.

As pediatric physical therapists, we use a variety of assessments to determine if a child is performing motor skills at an age appropriate level. Once a child is walking, the goal is for them to safely and effectively interact with their environment as independently as possible. As their gross motor skills develop, your child will improve balance on even and uneven surfaces, decrease their base of support, and develop gait mechanics. It will also be important for your child to access stairs and ramps in their environment, but with assistance.

On average, a 2 year old should be able to go up steps placing both feet on each step and using a railing or hand for assistance. At 3 years old, they will begin to go up steps placing only one foot on each step and alternating which leg goes first, but will still go down steps placing both feet on each step. By 4 years old, a child will place one foot on each step going up and down.

Furthermore, a child will begin to develop jumping, going on tip toes, and balance skills when 2 years old. A 2 year old should be able to stand on one foot for a couple seconds, and the length should increase as the child gets older. Coordination skills also begin to develop at 2 years old with running. Children should be galloping with either leg leading at 4 years old and skipping at 5.

As with all gross motor skills, there is an age range when children become proficient with skills and can also be affected by lack of exposure to particular skills, like skipping and galloping. If you feel your child is falling behind, a physical therapy evaluation by a licensed pediatric physical therapist will help.