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A Run-Down on Childhood Development

This month’s topic is an extension from last month’s human gait article. If you missed it, here’s the rundown: gait simply refers to the way in which we walk. Gait is a complex, full body motor pattern that we depend on to get around. Watching our little ones learn this important milestone is really quite fascinating! That’s why this month’s focus will be on childhood development. 

What are Developmental Milestones? 

As children grow and learn new skills, they hit what we call milestones! These are key checkpoints that serve as building blocks for future skills. A “motor milestone” specifically describes the age at which a child develops skills such as sitting, crawling, and standing. 

  • 6-8 months: Ability to sit without support 
  • 9 months: Ability to crawl 
  • 12-14 months: First steps! 
  • 18 months: Most children are able to walk independently 
  • By 3 years, children normally have a well-established gait pattern. 
  • By 7 years, children normally have a gait pattern resembling an adult’s 

At first, the child may look like they are waddling with their feet very far apart and their arms out in front. Do not be alarmed – the child is instinctively widening their base of support to increase stability. Approximately six months after they take their first steps, toddlers develop a more natural gait, holding their hands at their sides with their feet closer together. By two, your child will be quite proficient and start to adapt the smooth heel-to-toe motion used by adults. 

Not reaching individual milestones doesn’t mean there is a problem. It is important to note that milestones are based on an average mark of a very large sample of the population and variations in motor development are expected between individuals. The doctor will monitor your child’s walking patterns over several years to ensure their legs continue to develop and their gait becomes more typical over time. Fortunately, some gait abnormalities can resolve without any intervention as the child grows. 

If you have any concerns about how your child walks, we recommend speaking with your paediatrician. Can’t get in to see your family doctor? Book a complimentary consultation with one of our orthotists to assess how your child walks and provide tools or resources to get your child on the path to success!

The Custom Orthotics Team (519) 850-4721 | office@customorthoticsoflondon.com | @cool_bracing


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