A few weeks ago, my daughter, who is almost four years old, finally crossed a milestone that took her years to master. She jumped with both feet off the ground. Having waited for this one toddler milestone for more than two years, I actually wept with joy. Because it took her so long to reach this and other gross motor milestones, my daughter has been subjected to neurological evaluations and even physical therapy to determine whether or not there was an underlying problem. Although she is physically well, she lagged significantly on reaching this simple milestone. Most children are able to jump during the early toddler years. If you're wondering when your toddler will be able to jump, here are some points to consider.
1. Most toddlers can jump before age two. On average, a toddler will be able to jump about six to nine months after learning to walk. For the vast majority of children, this means before age two. A parents' poll by BabyCenter found that about 65% of toddlers, both boys and girls, can jump with both feet off the ground by 22 months of age. Medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics list it as a milestone that most children should master before reaching their second birthday.
2. If a toddler can't jump by age two-and-a-half, she may need a professional evaluation. When my daughter couldn't jump by two and a half, I brought up my concerns with her pediatrician. She concluded that my daughter did indeed have a mild developmental delay, but said that it did not warrant treatment. At two and a half, an inability to jump is one minor symptom of gross motor delay, but, in and of itself, it does not necessarily signal a problem.
3. Inability to jump by age three is greater cause for concern. If a toddler can't jump by the time she reaches her third birthday, her pediatrician will likely refer her to a specialist for a specific evaluation and potential treatment. A neurologist examined my daughter to rule out conditions such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, ultimately determining that nothing was wrong. However, many parents may find that an inability to jump during toddlerhood is the first sign of a medical condition-- so seek immediate help if your child can't jump before her third birthday.
4. There isn't necessarily a problem.If your toddler still can't jump even past age three, you do need to get professional help, but you don't necessarily need to assume the worst. An inability to jump is not "normal" per se, but many perfectly healthy kids take years to master this skill. Professional evaluations for gross motor delays are often "just in case" there is a problem; they are not always carried out under the assumption that something is seriously wrong.
5. Give it some time. During my daughter's neurological evaluation, I explained with embarrassment that I myself was humiliatingly old before I could ride a bike without training wheels, and that I couldn't jump rope with other kids in first grade. I, like my daughter, am perfectly healthy. Some children just need extra time to learn to develop motor skills such as running and jumping. If your child happens to be one of them, there is no need to be ashamed or worried. As long as you keep your doctor posted about symptoms of motor delays, you are doing everything necessary to ensure your toddler's health.
Related Work by Juniper Russo