Your child will go on to do great things in life, but there’s no doubt about it: Kicking will be one of her first amazing accomplishments! The evolution of kicking is actually really interesting. It may begin as an involuntary reflex when she’s a baby, but it will turn into a major movement milestone by the time she’s two years old. Kicking develops when motor and sensory skills join together to make this maneuver happen. If you’re curious about how kicking develops, you’ve come to the right place!
In the first few months, you’ll notice your baby involuntarily kicking her feet around and moving her legs as if she already knows how to swim. Even though she can’t sit up on her own yet, this movement is a healthy sign. When she’s stretching and kicking, she’s strengthening her leg muscles and preparing herself for rolling over. Between 3-6 months, instead of being an involuntary action, her kicking becomes intentional. She’ll start kicking toys, balls, or other objects that are near her feet.
As time goes by, her leg muscles will continue to grow. You’ll recognize her newly found leg strength when you hold her under her arms and watch her use her legs to bounce up and down, preparing herself for standing and walking. When she’s about 15 months old, you’ll be able to place a ball in front of her and watch her practice those kicks! You may have to hold her arms while she does this, or if she’s getting better at standing and walking, she may be able to use her legs and push the ball around with her feet on her own. Kicking at this age is important because it also helps improve her balance and coordination.
By the time she’s about 19 months old, you’ll see her kick … and kick again, and again, and again! Consecutive kicks are a great accomplishment, and you’ll observe her following the ball with her eyes as she prepares her body for another kick. She might just consider herself a master at kicking by the time she’s two years old, as she’ll be able to take part in a soccer-like game with you or her peers. Instead of watching her simply follow the ball around alone, you’ll be able to kick a light ball or balloon back and forth.
Kicking continues to evolve as your little one learns to kick farther and with more precision. By the time she’s 34-36 months old, she’ll be able to kick a soccer ball about 6 feet on grass by bending her Practice kicking as much as you can (if you’re using BabySparks, kicking activities will show up in your daily program at just the right times), because it also strengthens her walking, running, jumping, catching, and other motor skills.
Keep in mind that your child might not show foot dominance yet. In fact, alternating kicking feet is actually a good thing because it strengthens both sides of her body.
It’s also important to remember that the ages for kicking milestones are based on averages. Discuss any concerns with your pediatrician, but unless she is falling several months behind, there usually isn’t any reason to worry. What’s most important is offering her lots of opportunities to practice her kicking skills!