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Balance Milestones Development
This article provides helpful information regarding balance milestones and how it develops as a child grows older. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
Kids need a good sense of balance for many areas of learning, behavioral and emotional development. For this reason, it’s important for us to help kids build critical balance milestones as they grow older.
At each stage of life, kids form a foundation for new elements of balance within their vestibular system. Even when children are first born, they are already using their balance systems to learn and grow.
As children grow older, they should establish good static and dynamic balance. Without a good foundation in these two areas, immature or delayed balance if often manifested in the classroom.
Here, we talk about balance milestones during each stage of life. Through each stage, we can provide activities and exercise that support a child’s balance system for greater learning development.
In Utero (Pregnancy)
- A child’s vestibular system, where the balance mechanisms are housed, are first developed at five months in utero or when the baby is in the womb.
Birth to 2 Months
- Development of Primitive Reflexes, especially those that impact balance: Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR), Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR), and the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR).
- Raises head slightly off the floor or bed when on stomach.
- Holds head momentarily when supported.
3 to 5 Months
- Lifts head and chest when on stomach, developing better head control for more dynamic balance.
- Development of posture and postural reflexes when on tummy time for stronger balance skills as the child grows.
- Rolls from side-to-side, then from stomach to back (prone to supine).
- Sits briefly with arm support, helping the baby develop their sense of balance.
- Begins to rock forward and balance, preparatory for crawling.
6 to 8 Months
- Balances on tummy to reach for objects in front of them.
- Pivots when on stomach.
- Pulls self forward on stomach.
- Rolls from back to front (supine to prone).
- Sits alone briefly while balancing head.
- Moves from sitting to lying on stomach.
- Stands with support.
9 to 11 Months
- Sits alone with trunk rotation.
- Creeps or crawls.
- Scoots and pivots while sitting.
- Pulls body to stand.
- Stands alone momentarily.
12 to 15 Months
- Walks on knees.
- Walks independently without support.
- Stands without support.
- Creeps upstairs.
- Starts, stops and turns without falling.
- Crawls on chairs or other furniture.
16 to 18 Months
- Walks up one step at a time with railing or holding hands.
- Walks with a heel-toe pattern, seldom falls
- Walks sideways and backward.
- Creeps down stairs.
- Runs stiffly.
- Stands on one foot with help.
- Kicks large ball forward after a demonstration using both static and dynamic balance.
- Manages riding toys.
- Can bend over and grasp toys without losing balance.
19 to 24 Months
- Walks down one step at a time with rail or hand-holding.
- Squats in play and stands back up without falling.
- Two-foot jumps in place without falling.
- Kicks a stationary ball without falling.
- Jumps off small box with one foot leading.
- Walks on balance beam with one foot on and one foot off.
- Walks up and down stairs alone.
24 to 29 Months
- Walks on balance beam holding one hand.
- Stands on balance beam alone.
- Walks upstairs one step at a time with no railing.
- Runs well.
- Briefly stands on one foot.
- Jumps from one step with feet together.
- Throws a ball overhead.
- Climbs on play equipment (slides, ladders, ropes, etc.)
2 to 3 Years
- Walks down stairs step-by-step without a railing.
- Balances on one foot for two to three seconds.
- Jumps forward at least one foot.
- Walks on balance beam alone.
- Walks on tiptoe when asked.
- Learning to ride a bike (balance bike or with pedals)
- Can briefly balance on one foot, but wobbles or falls.
3 to 4 Years
- Catches a bounced ball.
- Rides a tricycle or bike with training wheels.
- Hops on one foot for two to five seconds (controlled).
- Consistent jumping (one foot and both feet)
- Walks upstairs step over step alone.
4 to 5 Years
- Balances on one foot four to eight seconds without falling (static balance).
- Walks on balance beam in all directions.
- Walks down stairs step-over-step alone.
- Kicks a rolling ball.
- Catches large and small bass with an outstretched arm.
- Throws a small ball overhand.
- Begins skipping and galloping.
5 to 6 Years
- Balances on one foot for 10 seconds.
- Skips and gallops.
- Rides a bike with or without training wheels.
- Begins to jump rope.
- Hops on one foot 10 times.
- Catches bounced or thrown balls with hands.
- Walks on heals when asked.
- Swings on a swing, pumping by self.
To print a copy or download all the balance milestones listed above, enter your email in the form below. A PDF document will be emailed to your account to share with parents, teachers or therapists. If you notice signs and symptoms of immature balance in your child or students, there are a series of simple balance tests kids can perform to determine if more help is needed.
If you find all the activities and exercises above helpful for balance, you may consider joining our Integrated Movement Center membership.
This resource provides members with monthly or annual access to activities that strengthen and support all motor skills, including balance.
Join other Integrated Movement Center members here.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs