Developmental Milestones

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  • What Are Developmental Milestones?

    Developmental milestones are functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children learn or demonstrate in predictable stages of growth.

    How Do They Develop?

    Developmental milestones are like stepping stones, with each milestone building upon the previous to support a child’s growth and development. For example, most children learn to crawl and pull themselves up to a standing position before they learn to walk. A child’s development progresses through four major skill areas:

    • • Movement and muscle
    • • Communication and expression
    • • Play and social
    • • Thinking and problem solving

    In reality, each milestone does not develop in isolation, as development in one area is reinforced and enhanced by growth in others.

  • Every Child is Unique

    This natural progression of growth makes it important to understand every developmental milestone as a way to gauge each new stage of development in your child’s life. Every child develops, learns, and plays at their own pace

  • By 6 months:

    • Rolls both ways (front to back, back to front)

    • Sits without support

    • Responds to own name

    • Explores toys with hands and mouth

    • Looks for partially hidden objects

    • Imitates sounds that you make

    • Transfers objects from one hand to the other

    • Makes “happy” and “sad” noises

    By 18 months:

    • Climbs onto and down from furniture assisted

    • Points to pictures in a book with index finger

    • Stacks items such as books

    • Knows three body parts

    • Uses several words including “no” and “mine”

    • Plays with toys by their function (phone, comb, cups)

    • Tries to activate a toy (winding, flipping switch, pushing)

    • Does things for attention and looks for a reaction

    By 36 months:

    • Catches a ball against chest

    • Undresses and unties shoes

    • Names actions in pictures (e.g., running, crying)

    • Answers “what” and “where” questions

    • Categorizes by group (trucks, animals, foods)

    • Completes 4 to 5 piece puzzles

    • When looking at books, can tell the difference between

    words and pictures

    • Starts to make friends

    By 5 years:

    • Balances on one foot, skips and jumps forward

    • Cuts out shapes with scissors

    • Understands 13,000 words

    • Answers questions about a story

    • Compares amounts using words like “more”, “less”, “same”

    • Plays simple board games

    • Acts out plays and stories

    • Understands rules

  • By 12 months:

    • Scoots or crawls

    • Walks with or without support

    • Babbles and says “Mama” and “Dada”

    • Responds to simple requests

    • Pokes and points with index finger

    • Uses thumb and index finger to pick up small items

    • Has strong preference for primary caregiver

    • Imitates gestures like a wave or a kiss

    By 24 months:

    • Kicks a ball and can walk on tiptoes

    • Begins to run

    • Uses simple sentences of 2 or more words

    • Follows simple directions (e.g., “hand me your book”)

    • Sorts items by color, shape and size

    • Is learning to share and take turns

    • Scribbles and may begin to copy vertical lines and circles

    • Recites repeated phrases from well-known books

    By 4 years:

    • Steers a tricycle or pedal car around objects

    • Colors within lines and can draw a face

    • Knows opposites (hot/cold; big/little)

    • Asks “when” “why” and “how” questions

    • Uses regular past tense (“ed”)

    • Correctly counts out 10 items (1-1 correspondence)

    • Recognizes name in print

    • Pretends by role playing


    Over 5:

    • Hops and gallops in a straight line

    • Uses mature (tripod) pencil grasp

    • Can wait their turn

    • Produces all sounds correctly (by 7)

    • Correctly uses past and future tenses

    • Listens to stories without pictures

    • Identifies start and end sounds in words

    • Adds and subtracts simple numbers