Balance is a motor skill that uses large muscle groups in the body.  It is related to locomotion skills (getting from one place to another) like crawling and walking.  

Balance is also its own developmental milestone.  

The head is the fastest growing part of the body at birth, which is why infants and toddlers have a higher center of gravity.  This makes balance difficult and is why children this age are likely to fall.  As children grow, their torso lengthens.  This lowers the center of gravity.  It isn’t until about 6 years of age that children have a center of gravity similar to adults.

Examples of balance skills, timelines, and how you can support balance development:

6-12 months


  • Sitting momentarily without propping up on hands (more and more without toppling over as they get closer to 10 months)
  • Rocking back and forth on knees
  • Standing briefly without support


Seated bouncing and swaying.  Place your baby on your lap, supporting their trunk.  Bounce your knees, both at once, helping your baby keep balance.  Then, lift one heel at a time so baby goes side to side.  You can also sway your knees side to side.  

12-24 months


  • Standing on tiptoe to reach something
  • Squatting 


Dump the beanbag.  While your child is sitting, place a beanbag on your child’s head.  Put a laundry basket in front of them.  Show them how they can lean forward and dump the beanbag into the basket.

24-36 months


  • Kneels while playing
  • Sidesteps a taped line


Tightrope walking.  Place a line of tape or string on the floor.  Play “follow the leader” walking the “tightrope” in different ways:  hands on hips, heel-toe, arms out to the side, etc.

36-48 months


  • Jumps over small objects and off low steps
  • Stands on one foot briefly



4-6 years old


  • Tiptoe walking
  • Hopping
  • Skipping


Island hopping/Stepping stones.  Start with 4-6 small soft cushions placed on the floor, spaced about 12-16 inches apart (can start closer and then move to 12-16″ as goal).  Children have to walk on each cushion (mastery would be doing this smoothly and without pauses).

Kindergarten-1st grade

As children get older, balance training can help decrease injury.  


Statue pose games.  Experiment with a wide and a narrow base of support, as well as curling and twisting into different poses.  For ideas: