The thought of your child going up and down a flight of stairs independently may be quite a very alarming thought, especially for parents of new walkers; however, learning to negotiate the stairs is an important part in your child’s strength and motor development.
Below is a guideline of ages at which your child should be developing stair skills:
- 10-15 months-Around the time your child starts to walk, he/she should be able to completely climb up at least 2 stairs on hands and knees.
- 15-18 months-Shortly after learning to climb up the stairs on hands and knees, your child should be able to go down the stairs in the same manner. At this age, your child should also be able to begin walking up the stairs using a railing or your hand for additional support. He/she will likely be using a step-to pattern in which he/she places both feet on each step.
- 18-20 months-By the time your child is this age, he/she should be able to walk down the stairs as well, placing both feet on each step and using a railing for support.
- 2 years-At this age, it is typical for a child to walk up the stairs without any support from the parent or a wall/railing, but still putting both feet on each step before proceeding to the next step.
- 3 years-When your child is around 3 years of age, he/she should now be able to walk up the stairs using a reciprocal pattern, placing only one foot on each step, without requiring the use of a railing for support.
- 4 years-Your child should now be able to go both up and down stairs using a reciprocal pattern and no rail.
As with all new and challenging gross motor skills, it is vital to make sure that your child is supervised and safe while completing the task. If you have concerns with your child’s ability to negotiate stairs at home or in the community, be sure to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist at NSPT.