Stair Climbing Milestones
Kids and stairs are often a nerve-racking combination for parents. A common question our physical therapy team is asked is “How do I help my child safely go up and down the stairs?” While this activity can be scary, it is important to practice so that your child can learn to be safe!
But what are the stair climbing milestones? Each child develops uniquely and therefore milestones for anything in development can happen a little later, but full stair negotiation skills are often achieved by 5 years of age. While there are years of research on when skills begin to develop in children, an exact age has not been determined but rough estimates do exist.
- 1 year old: A child will become interested in stairs and begin climbing up them on their hands and knees
- Between 18-24 months: A child can usually walk up and down the stairs, placing two feet on each step with the support of an adult or a handrail.
- Between 2-3 years: A child can often walk up the stairs placing two feet on each step without support. A child can walk up the stairs placing one foot on each step with help from an adult or the handrail.
- Between 3-4 years: A child can begin walking up and down the stairs placing one foot on each step without support.
Tips for practicing stairs:
- Start by practicing a few stairs/steps at a time before tackling the entire flight of stairs.
- Stand behind your child when they are walking up the stairs for optimal safety
- Stand below your child when they are walking down the stairs for optimal safety
- Use tape, stickers, or different visual markers on the stairs to show children where their feet should be placed on the steps
- Remember that going up the stairs is easier than going down the stairs, each child is unique so do not get discouraged if some skills take more practice to perfect!
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