Motor Delay In 1 Year Old Children

By June 6, 2024 June 13th, 2024 Occupational Therapy
Motor delay in 1 year old with Occupational Therapist in Bondi Junction and Mascot

Motor skills are essential for a child’s overall development. They help children move, explore their environment, and perform everyday activities. By the age of one, most children have started to develop both fine and gross motor skills. However, some children may experience motor delays, meaning they are not meeting the expected milestones for their age. Understanding these delays and knowing how to support a child can make a significant difference. Here’s what you need to know about motor delay in 1-year-old children.

What is Motor Delay?

Motor delay occurs when a child does not achieve the typical milestones for motor development. Motor skills are divided into two categories:

  1. Gross Motor Skills: These involve large muscle movements, such as crawling, walking, and sitting.
  2. Fine Motor Skills: These involve smaller movements, such as picking up objects, holding a spoon, and pointing.

A motor delay means a child is taking longer than usual to develop these skills.

Typical Motor Milestones for 1-Year-Olds

Gross Motor Skills:

    • Sitting Up: By one year, most children can sit without support.
    • Crawling: Many children begin crawling between 6 and 10 months.
    • Standing: By their first birthday, most children can stand with or without support.
    • Walking: Some children take their first steps around their first birthday, though this can vary.

Fine Motor Skills:

      • Grasping Objects: By one year, children can pick up small objects using a pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger).
      • Feeding Themselves: They may start to feed themselves with their fingers and show interest in using a spoon.
      • Pointing: Many children can point to objects they want or find interesting.

Signs of Motor Delay

  1. Not Sitting Independently: If a child cannot sit without support by one year, it might indicate a delay.
  2. Not Crawling or Rolling Over: If the child is not crawling, scooting, or rolling over to move around, this could be a sign of motor delay.
  3. Difficulty Standing: If the child cannot stand with support or shows no interest in trying to stand, it might be a concern.
  4. Not Using Hands Effectively: If the child has trouble picking up small objects or doesn’t use both hands equally, it could indicate a delay in fine motor skills.
  5. Lack of Coordination: If the child’s movements are very clumsy or they seem unable to coordinate their actions, this might be a sign of a motor delay.

Causes of Motor Delay

  1. Premature Birth: Babies born prematurely might develop motor skills later than their full-term peers.
  2. Genetic Conditions: Conditions like Down syndrome can affect motor development.
  3. Neurological Disorders: Disorders that affect the brain, such as cerebral palsy, can lead to motor delays.
  4. Muscle Disorders: Conditions that affect muscle tone and strength can cause delays.
  5. Lack of Opportunities: Limited opportunities for physical activity and exploration can also contribute to motor delays.

How to Support a Child with Motor Delay

  1. Encourage Movement: Give your child plenty of opportunities to move and explore. Create a safe space for them to crawl, roll, and play.
  2. Tummy Time: Encourage tummy time while the child is awake. This helps strengthen neck, shoulder, and arm muscles.
  3. Use Toys to Encourage Movement: Use toys that encourage reaching, grasping, and other movements. Toys that make noise or light up can be particularly engaging.
  4. Play Games: Play games that involve movement, like pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo. These can help develop both gross and fine motor skills.
  5. Encourage Standing and Walking: Help your child practice standing by supporting them or using furniture they can hold onto. Encourage walking by holding their hands or using a push toy.
  6. Practice Fine Motor Skills: Offer toys that require grasping and manipulation, like stacking blocks or picking up small objects.
  7. Be Patient and Positive: Celebrate your child’s efforts and progress, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement encourages them to keep trying.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you notice signs of motor delay in your 1-year-old, it’s important to talk to a paediatrician. The doctor can conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if there is a delay and what might be causing it. Early intervention is crucial for helping children with motor delays catch up to their peers. A referral to an occupational therapist may be recommended.


Motor delay in 1-year-old children can be concerning, but with the right support and intervention, many children can make significant progress. Understanding typical motor milestones, recognising signs of delay, and engaging in activities that promote motor development are crucial steps for parents and caregivers. If you have concerns, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. By being proactive and supportive, you can help your child develop the motor skills they need to thrive.

We’re here to support you

At OneOnOne Children’s Therapy, we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to grow and thrive.

Our clinics are not just a space for therapy – it’s a place where children can discover their strengths, overcome challenges, and reach their full potential.

By combining innovative therapy techniques with a stimulating and supportive environment, we’re proud to offer a holistic approach to paediatric therapy and early intervention that addresses the unique needs of each child we support.

Reach out for support

If you’re concerned about your child’s motor development or want to learn more about how Occupational Therapy can help your child, OneOnOne Children’s Therapy is here to help. We have clinics in Bondi Junction and Mascot – in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs.

Call us on (02) 80657837 or email. You can book a free 30 minute phone call with us to discuss how we can support your child’s unique journey