Developmental Milestones

What are developmental milestones?

Developmental milestones are physical or behavioral signs of development of infants and children. Rolling over, crawling, walking and talking are considered developmental milestones and provide important information regarding your child's early development.

Milestones are different for each age range. These milestones are behaviors that emerge over time, forming the building blocks for growth and continued learning. Some of the categories of behavior include:

  • Cognition: Thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, understanding
  • Motor coordination: Gross/fine motor skills, jumping, hopping, throwing/catching, drawing, stacking
  • Social interaction: Initiating peer contact, group play
  • Adaptive: Dressing, eating, washing

You child's CHOP pediatrician or nurse practitioner will address your child’s milestones during well visits; however, if you have any developmental concerns at any point, you should contact your pediatrician immediately.

Children develop at their own pace, so don't be alarmed if your child takes a slightly different course. Some children may skip over milestones, while others take more time. Your CHOP provider will help you distinguish whether your child is experiencing delays and how to address them.

Developmental milestones: 2 months

Your baby at 2 months

At 2 months, your child is wide-eyed and watching, smiling at faces, and engaging with everything around them. Babies at this age are social and love to interact. Their neck muscles are growing stronger and they can hold their heads erect for a period of time. They can identify and understand the tone, emotions and comfort in your voice.

What your baby is learning now

While babies may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your baby may reach in this age group:

  • Moves arms and kicks
  • Lifts head when on stomach
  • Reacts to noises
  • Sees best from 8-10 inches away
  • Makes sounds
  • Begins to smile at people

What your baby is learning next

  • Coos and begins to imitate sounds
  • Crying become more purposeful and is different for hunger, fatigue and other needs
  • Sleeps for longer stretches of time
  • Smiles at faces
  • Pulls at clothes
  • Bats or hits at toys
  • Watches objects as they move

What you can do to encourage your baby’s development

  • Sing together.
  • Talk and smile while looking at your baby’s face.
  • Talk to your baby with a soothing, animated voice throughout the day while dressing, bathing, feeding or playing with your baby.
  • Let your baby hear different sounds.
  • Vary the sound of your voice.
  • Slowly move objects for your baby to watch.
  • Look into a mirror with your baby.

Games and activities

  • Cozy blanket for cuddling while awake
  • Music boxes or soft music
  • Plastic links or rattles
  • Reading books out loud
  • Encouraging tummy time while awake

Developmental milestones: 4 months

Your baby at 4 months

Your baby is growing even more social and moving in a purposeful manner. Babies at this age love to babble and coo and mimic sounds they hear. They love to play and copy the movements of others. Also, your baby’s cries will be different, as they communicate hunger, frustration, discomfort or feeling tired.

What your baby is learning now

While babies may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your baby may reach in this age group:

  • Squeals and waves arms when excited
  • Makes sounds like “ooh” and “aah”
  • Briefly holds a small rattle
  • Pushes up on arms while on stomach
  • Brings both hands to mouth
  • Rolls from back to sides
  • Sits up with your support
  • Pushes on legs when feet are on a hard surface

What your baby is learning next

  • Makes sounds like “ga” or “ba”
  • Smiles at self in mirror
  • Reaches and grasps toys
  • Shakes and bangs rattles
  • Rolls from stomach to back
  • Grabs feet when lying on back

What you can do to encourage your baby’s development

  • Give your baby toys to hold and play with.
  • Make faces for your baby to copy.
  • Sing songs while rocking your baby.
  • Copy your baby’s sounds.
  • Help your baby sit with support.
  • When your baby is awake, put her on her stomach.
  • Play peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake.
  • Talk about what your baby is looking at or doing.
  • Read with your baby.
  • Hold toys above your baby so he can reach them.

Games and activities

  • Rattles
  • Sing and talk together
  • Board books with textures
  • Soft cloth toys
  • Plastic mirrors

Developmental milestones: 6 months

Your baby at 6 months

It’s very exciting for parents to see their children grow into more social beings as babies begin to experiment with and recognize sounds. Your baby will use sounds to express emotion. They may mimic sounds they hear, like “Ma, Da, Ba, Ah, Oh,” and even “No!” At 6 months, your baby will begin to recognize familiar faces, reach and grasp for toys, and will soon be crawling.

What your baby is learning now

While babies may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your baby may reach in this age group:

  • Looks at objects as they move across the room
  • Recognizes familiar faces
  • Likes to look in the mirror
  • Sits w/o support and rolls over in both directions
  • Reaches and grasps toys
  • Begins to pass objects from one hand to another
  • Shakes and bangs rattles
  • Reaches for a book
  • Makes sounds to express emotion
  • Turns head toward sounds
  • Responds to  own name

What your baby is learning next

  • Stands by holding on to things
  • Crawls
  • Waves bye-bye and uses other gestures
  • Plays peek-a-book and pat-a-cake
  • Enjoys looking at books with an adult
  • Enjoys dump and fill toys
  • Enjoys push-and-pull toys
  • Grasps small objects with thumb and finger
  • Continues to shake, bang, throw, and drop rattles
  • Imitates and enjoys making different sounds

What you can do to encourage your baby’s development

  • Share books together.
  • Point and name pictures.
  • Talk and sing to your child.
  • Play with your child on the floor.
  • Make music part of each day.
  • Create a safe environment.
  • Use big smiles and gestures.
  • Praise your baby.

Games and activities

  • Rattles
  • Mirrors
  • Activity centers
  • Soft or board books
  • Squeaky toys

Developmental milestones: 9 months

Your baby at 9 months

By 9 months, your baby is much more mobile and likes to explore. Babies at this age are crawling and can pull up to stand. Safety in the home becomes an important issue as your baby’s curiosity (and mobility) grows. Your baby now responds to his or her name, loves to cuddle with family and may show shyness or fear of strangers. Games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake are popular.

What your baby is learning now

While babies may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your baby may reach in this age group:

  • Makes sounds and uses gestures to communicate
  • Fills and dumps things
  • Uses toys to make noise
  • Turns pages in books
  • Grasps smaller objects with hands and fingers
  • Sits, crawls and pulls up to stand

What your baby is learning next

  • Begins to recognize and know what words mean
  • Points to objects
  • Recognizes pictures in books
  • Plays with others by handing them things
  • Likes games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Plays with toys by pushing, pulling, stacking and dumping
  • Stands alone and sits with control

What you can do to encourage your baby’s development

  • Read books together and name the pictures.
  • Name objects you see.
  • Call your child by name.
  • Encourage your child to imitate your words and sounds.
  • Praise your baby for good behavior.
  • Use finger foods to promote use of hands to grab food.

Games and activities

  • Containers for filling and dumping
  • Soft blocks
  • Rings on a stick
  • Board books
  • Activity centers with different textures, shapes and sounds
  • Push-and-pull toys
  • Balls

Developmental milestones: 1 year

Your baby at 1 year

After a baby’s first birthday, the rate at which they grow begins to slow. By 1, your baby is officially a toddler. Toddlers are more active, curious and expressive. Your toddler may begin to use words, be able to stand on his or her own and take a few steps. Read books to your child, encourage active play, and reward them for good behavior.

What your toddler is learning now

While toddlers may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your toddler may reach in this age group:

  • May start to use words
  • May be shy around strangers
  • Points to objects
  • Turns pages in a book
  • Likes to push, pull and dump things
  • Stacks two blocks
  • Hands objects to others
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Crawls well
  • Stands alone, sits down
  • May take steps alone

What your toddler is learning next

  • Uses single words
  • Points to pictures in books
  • Scribbles with large crayons (with supervision)
  • Hides and finds objects
  • Notices other children
  • Plays with blocks and puzzles
  • Walks
  • Climbs into a chair

What you can do to encourage your toddler’s development

  • Read books together — let your child turn pages and point to pictures.
  • Name objects you see.
  • Talk with your child about everyday things.
  • Play with your child on the floor.
  • Set clear rules and be consistent.
  • Make time for active play.
  • Praise your child for good behavior.
  • Demonstrate respectful interactions for your toddler to emulate.

Games and activities

  • Shape sorters
  • Nesting blocks and cups
  • Riding toys (pushing off with feet)
  • Small blocks for stacking
  • Push-and-pull toys
  • Board books
  • Pop-up boxes
  • Activity boxes
  • Balls
  • Stacking rings

Developmental milestones: 18 months

Your toddler at 18 months

You toddler is now walking and using basic words. At this age, children love to play and explore. They begin to show some independence. They may play pretend and point at objects they want. They also begin to understand what things in the house are used for, such as a cup or spoon. Your toddler may have temper tantrums around this age, when they grow frustrated trying to communicate how they feel.

What your toddler is learning now

While toddlers may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your toddler may reach in this age group:

  • Uses around eight or more words
  • Points to pictures in books
  • Scribbles
  • Hides and finds objects
  • Shows interest in other children
  • Plays with blocks and puzzles
  • Uses a spoon and cup
  • Walks quickly
  • Climbs into a chair by self
  • May have tantrums
  • May show interest in using the toilet

What your toddler is learning next

  • Walks forward and backward
  • Rolls a large ball back-and-forth
  • Stoops and squats
  • Turns pages of books
  • Uses two- to three-word sentences
  • Points to some body parts
  • Sings and dances
  • Imitates parent activities

What you can do to encourage your toddler’s development

  • Read books together: Let your child turn pages and point to pictures.
  • Talk with your child about everyday things.
  • Play with your child on the floor.
  • Play dress-up.
  • Use routines: Toddlers like to know what to expect.
  • Set clear rules and be consistent.
  • Praise your toddler for good behavior.

Games and activities

  • Blocks
  • Farm or garage sets
  • Teacup or kitchen sets
  • Books
  • Toy telephone
  • Bubbles
  • Balls
  • Stack and nest cups
  • Dolls or teddy bears
  • Cars and trucks
  • Riding toys

Developmental milestones: 2 years

Your toddler at 2 years

By the age of 2, your toddler is talking, walking, climbing, jumping, running and bursting with energy. Your child now has a growing vocabulary and acquires new words on a regular basis. They can sort shapes and colors. They may show an interest in potty training. As they grow more independent, toddlers may show signs of defiance as they begin to push boundaries and explore their world.

What your toddler is learning now

While toddlers may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your toddler may reach in this age group:

  • Walks forward and backward
  • Rolls a large ball back-and-forth
  • Stoops and squats
  • Turns pages of books
  • Uses two- to three-word sentences
  • Points to some body parts
  • Sings and dances
  • May be interested in using the toilet
  • Scribbles

What your toddler is learning next

  • Signs of toilet readiness
  • Undresses self
  • Kicks a ball
  • Enjoys riding toys
  • Listens to brief stories
  • Does simple puzzles
  • Matches a picture and object

What you can do to encourage your toddler’s development

  • Read a little everyday.
  • Have conversations with your child.
  • Teach new words.
  • Let your child help with chores.
  • Praise your toddler for good behavior.
  • Set clear rules and be consistent.
  • Help your child learn how to share.
  • Exercise together by jumping, running and walking.

Games and activities

  • Farm or garage sets
  • Teacup or kitchen sets
  • Books
  • Toy telephone
  • Bubbles
  • Balls
  • Riding toys
  • Nesting cups
  • Water and sand toys
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Dolls or teddy bears
  • Blocks and building toys

Developmental milestones: 3 years

Your child at 3 years

At 3, your child is beginning to grow out of the toddler years. Full of fun and ideas, 3-year-olds are active and communicative. They understand past tense in speech. They may begin asking “why” all the time. They enjoy playing with other children and are learning how to share. They are able to feed themselves by this age and have all 20 primary baby teeth!

What your child is learning now

While children may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your child may reach in this age group:

  • Plays well with other children
  • Can copy a circle and lines
  • Rides a tricycle
  • Uses their word sentences
  • Uses pronouns
  • Knows colors
  • Can count to three
  • Uses the toilet
  • Puts on T-shirt by self
  • Sings and dances
  • Plays make-believe
  • May have fears of certain things, like the dark or a monster under the bed

What your child is learning next

  • Uses full sentences
  • Can have a conversation
  • Uses the words “in” “on” and “under” correctly
  • Likes pretend play
  • Draws a person
  • Dresses by self
  • Knows five or more colors
  • Listens to whole stories
  • Says full name and age
  • Can match a picture with an object

What you can do to encourage your child’s development

  • Read  everyday.
  • Have conversations.
  • Talk about colors and shapes.
  • Count.
  • Sing songs together.
  • Play is more important than passively watching TV or a screen.
  • Let your child help with chores.
  • Praise your child for good behavior.
  • Set clear rules and be consistent.
  • Exercise together.

Games and activities

  • Playdough
  • Books and storytelling
  • Matching games
  • Small pegs and peg board
  • Scribbling
  • Tricycles or big wheels
  • Wagons
  • Puzzles
  • Markers, crayons, glue, stickers, watercolor parts
  • Balls
  • Songs
  • Costumes, action figures

Developmental milestones: 4 years

Your child at 4 years

Your 4-year-old preschooler is energetic and imaginative. Children at this age like to tell stories, and often can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. They may have imaginary playmates. They like to ask questions — a lot. And they can also begin to understand time, as they inch closer to starting kindergarten.

What your child is learning now

While children may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your child may reach in this age group:

  • Uses full sentences
  • Can have a conversation
  • Uses direction words (in, on, and under)
  • Elaborate pretend play
  • Draws a person
  • Dresses by self
  • Knows five or more colors
  • Pedals a tricycle
  • Listens to whole stories
  • Says full name and age
  • Can match pictures to words

What your child is learning next

  • Knows letters
  • Sings alphabet song
  • Counts six objects
  • Catches a ball
  • Climbs stairs without holding on
  • Repeats a story
  • Draws a person with at least four body parts
  • Plays games with rules
  • Can wait for turn
  • Shares with others
  • Cooperative play

What you can do to encourage your child’s development

  • Read a little every day.
  • Point to signs and words in the neighborhood.
  • Sort and count.
  • Teach your child how to use a phone.
  • Set clear rules and be consistent.
  • Help our child learn to share.
  • Exercise together by jumping, running and walking.
  • Praise your preschooler for good behavior.

Games and activities

  • Board games
  • Dolls with clothes
  • Puzzles
  • Arts and crafts
  • Books
  • Playdough
  • Dinosaur toys
  • Toys for active play, such as balls sports sets, roller skates, tricycles

Developmental milestones: 5 years

Your child at 5 years

At 5, your child is getting ready for kindergarten. She may know her letters, and can sing the alphabet song. She can count to 10, climb stairs on her own and dress without help in the morning. Children at this age show more curiosity about the world and are able to tell the difference between what is real and what is make believe.

What your child is learning now

While children may progress at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones your child may reach in this age group:

  • Knows letters
  • Sings alphabet song
  • Learns left from right hand
  • Counts 10 objects
  • Catches a ball
  • Climbs stairs without holding on
  • Retells a story
  • Draws a person with at least four body parts
  • Plays games with rules
  • Waits to take turn
  • Shares with others
  • Engages in cooperative play
  • Wants to be like friends
  • Jumps rope
  • Can name coins and money
  • Is curious about real facts about the world
  • Dresses up without any help

What you can do to encourage your child’s development

  • Color, cut, paste and glue at home with supervision.
  • Tell stories and make up new stories.
  • Ask and answer “why” questions.
  • Point to signs and words in the neighborhood.
  • Teach your child how to use the phone.
  • Set clear rules and be consistent.
  • Help your child share.
  • Exercise together.
  • Turn off screens and read a book together.
  • Praise your preschooler for good behavior.

Games and activities

  • Board games
  • Card games
  • Dominoes and blocks
  • Puppets
  • Dollhouses and dolls
  • Puzzles
  • Arts and crafts
  • Books
  • Toys for active play

Reviewed by Naline Lai, MD, FAAP


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