Gross Motor Delay Defined

gross motor skills

While it’s thrilling to see your child reaching developmental milestones like sitting, crawling, and walking, it can be worrisome when there seems to be a delay. Though every child develops differently, there are target age ranges for specific skills. For example, by 6 months old, most babies can roll over, push themselves up onto their arms, and lean on their hands to support themselves when sitting. Learn what constitutes gross motor delay and ways to help your child.

What Are Motor Skills?

As babies grow, their muscles should gradually gain the strength and ability to complete specific tasks, or motor skills. There are two categories of motor skills – fine and gross.

  • Fine motor skills include things like using the small muscles in the hands and fingers to grip an object such as a spoon or pencil.
  • Gross motor skills are whole-body movements that involve large muscles, including running, jumping, and climbing.

Understanding Gross Motor Delay

Since babies learn and develop at various rates, slight setbacks aren’t always cause for alarm. However, if your child misses multiple developmental targets for movement, strength, and coordination, a pediatrician can diagnose gross motor delay after conducting a physical examination.

Some children who experience gross motor delay still reach age-appropriate milestones for speech and fine motor skills. Other times, children exhibit developmental or cognitive delays in multiple areas. A child with gross motor delay may have underdeveloped muscle groups or low muscle tone. These issues can cause limited movement or an inability to support weight on their legs and feet.

Common comorbidities with gross motor delay include:

  • Premature birth, particularly if accompanied by health complications
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Environmental conditions that impede development

Gross Motor Delay Treatment Options

Since gross motor skills are critical for your child’s overall growth and health, early identification and interventions are essential. Though receiving a gross motor delay diagnosis may initially seem overwhelming, treatments can help your child catch up to their peer group. For example, your pediatrician may recommend starting physical or occupational therapy as soon as possible.

Children with gross motor delay can thrive with an individualized treatment plan that includes age-appropriate activities. By working with a trained therapist, you can learn how to help your child move more freely and comfortably through an at-home exercise program focused on improving their strength, gait, balance, endurance, and agility.  

Improving Quality of Life for Middle Tennessee Kids

At Project Play Therapy, we believe all children can reach their fullest potential. Our experienced, credentialed therapists help children with physical, sensory, or cognitive delays gain independence and confidence, overcoming obstacles and equipping them with the tools they need to succeed.

We offer teletherapy as well as in-person appointments at our three Middle Tennessee locations – Nashville, Franklin, and Nolensville. Our team has also partnered with over 150 schools where students can benefit from evidence-based, creative, and fun therapies. To get started with Project Play Therapy, please reach out to us today.