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What are Developmental Milestones?

Developmental milestones include things most babies, around 75%, can do by the time they are a certain age. They consist of physical abilities or behaviors seen in babies as they develop. Children attain milestones in learning, playing, moving, acting, and speaking. The milestones include smiling for the first time, taking the first step, and waving goodbye.

There is a normal range in which a baby may attain each milestone. For instance, a child may start walking as early as nine months, while another may walk as late as 18 months, and it is still well-thought-out to be normal. Therefore, every child and every parent’s experience is different. Nonetheless, professionals have a clear idea about the range of normal development of children from birth to age five and the indications that a baby might have a developmental delay. This explains the importance of attending well-child clinics to monitor babies’ development.

Parents ought to be aware of their developing children. Closely observing a calendar or checklist of developmental milestones may worry parents if their baby is not developing normally. However, it can help identify a kid who requires a more comprehensive check-up. If there is a problem, research has indicated that the earlier the developmental services are commenced, the better the outcome.

Developmental Milestones Guide for Children

The following is a general checklist of children’s developmental milestones at different ages to give parents a general idea of the changes to expect as babies develop.

1 Month

By the age of 1 month, most babies can do the following:

  • Keeping hands in tight fists.
  • Making jerky, shaky arm thrusts.
  • Bringing hands within the range of mouth and eyes.
  • Recognizing mother’s breastmilk scent.
  • Slightly moving head and eyes towards the source of voice or sound.

2 Months

By the age of 2 months, most babies can do the following:

  • Holding head up to almost 45 degrees during tummy time.
  • Opening hands freely.
  • Making sounds other than crying.
  • Reacting to loud sounds.
  • Watching a person as they move.
  • Closing of soft spot found at the back of the head, the posterior fontanelle.
  • Moving both legs and arms.
  • Looking at toys for a few seconds.
  • Calming down when a person talks to them or picks them up.
  • Looking at people’s faces.
  • Smiling when an individual talks to or smiles at them.
  • Appearing happy when they see someone walking up to them.

4 Months

By the age of 4 months, most babies can do the following:

  • Cooing or making sounds like “aah” and “ooh.”
  • Turning head in the direction of someone’s voice.
  • Making sounds back when spoken to.
  • Pushing up onto forearms or elbows during tummy time.
  • Sitting straight when propped up.
  • Raising their head 90 degrees when placed on their stomach.
  • Holding the head steady without support when a person is holding them.
  • Rolling from front to back.
  • Smiling on their own to attract attention.
  • Looking at people, moving, or making sounds to get attention.
  • Chuckling (not a full laugh) when a person tries to make them laugh.
  • Bringing hands to their mouth.
  • Holding a toy when someone puts it in their hand and letting it go.
  • Using their arm to swing at toys.
  • When hungry, they open their mouth upon seeing a bottle or breast.
  • Looking at their hands with interest.
  • Demanding attention by fussing.

6 Months

By the age of 6 months, most babies can do the following:

  • Rolling from tummy to back.
  • Laughing.
  • They are pushing up with straight arms when lying on their tummy.
  • They know familiar people.
  • They enjoy looking at themselves in a mirror.
  • They are making squealing sounds.
  • They are taking turns making sounds with another person.
  • They are reaching to grab toys.
  • Closing lips to indicate they don’t want more food.
  • Putting things in the mouth to explore them.  
  • They lean on their hands to support themselves when sitting.
  • Sitting on the floor with lower back support.
  • Beginning of teething and increased drooling.

9 Months

By the age of 9 months, most babies can do the following:

  • Making different sounds such as “baba” and “mama.”
  • Lifting arms for a person to pick them up.
  • Getting to a sitting position by themselves.
  • Sitting without support.
  • They show different facial expressions, such as surprised, happy, angry, and sad.
  • Looking when their name is called.
  • Responding to simple instructions.
  • They are moving things from one hand to the other hand.
  • Shying, becoming clingy or frightened around strangers.
  • Reacting when one leaves by reaching for the person or crying.
  • Banging two objects together.
  • Looking for things when dropped.
  • Gaining weight slowly.
  • Crawling.

1 Year

By the age of 1 year, most babies can do the following:

  • Waving “bye-bye”
  • Understanding “no” by stopping when a person says it or pausing briefly.
  • Calling a parent like “mama” or “baba” and any other special name familiar to them.
  • Playing games with another person.
  • Pulling up to stand.
  • They are drinking from a cup without a lid as they hold it.
  • Walking, holding on to stuff like furniture.
  • They are pointing to objects with their index finger.
  • Picking objects and holding them between thumb and pointer finger, such as small bits of food.
  • Put things in a container, such as a block in a mug.
  • They look for things they see a person hiding, such as a toy under a blanket.

15 Months

By the age of 15 months, most babies can do the following:

  • Taking a few steps on their own.
  • Using fingers to feed themselves food.
  • Trying to say other words besides “mama” or “baba.”
  • Looking at familiar things when someone names them.
  • They are pointing to get help or ask for something.
  • Following directions with both words and gestures, for instance, giving out an object when a person stretches their hand and says, “give me the object.”
  • They copy other kids while playing, such as taking objects out of a container when another kid does.
  • Clapping when excited.
  • Showing someone an object they like.
  • Hugging toys like a doll.
  • Showing people affection through cuddles, kisses, or hugs.
  • Using things appropriately, such as a cup, phone, or book.
  • They are stacking at least two small things, like blocks.

18 Months

By the age of 18 months, most babies can do the following:

  • Walking without holding onto anything or anyone.
  • Closing of the soft spot on the front of the head.
  • Running stiffly and falling more often.
  • Scribbling.
  • Trying to use a spoon.
  • Climbing on and off furniture without help.
  • Feeding themselves with their fingers.
  • Drinking from a cup without a lid may spill the contents occasionally.
  • Pointing to show someone something fascinating.
  • Putting hands out for someone to wash them.
  • Looking at a few pages of a book with someone.
  • Helping people dress them by pushing their arms through a sleeve or lifting their feet to wear trousers.
  • Trying to say more words.
  • Following one-step directions without gestures, for example, giving someone a toy when told, “give me the toy.”
  • Copying someone doing chores, such as sweeping with a broom.
  • They are simply playing with toys, such as pushing a toy car.

2 Years

By the age of 2 years, most babies can do the following:

  • Kicking a ball.
  • Running with better coordination.
  • Walking (not climbing) up a few stairs with or without assistance.
  • Picking up objects while standing without losing balance.
  • Eating with a spoon. 
  • Communicating needs like hunger, need to use the potty or thirst.
  • Saying at least two words together, for instance, “more milk.”
  • Pointing to at least two parts of the body when asked to show someone.
  • Using more gestures than just pointing and waving, such as nodding yes or blowing a kiss.
  • Pointing to things in a book when a person asks, for example, “where is the ball?”
  • They notice when others are upset or hurt, for example, by looking sad or pausing when they see someone crying.
  • Looking at people’s faces to see how to react in a new situation.
  • Trying to use knobs, buttons, or switches on a toy.
  • They are playing with more than one toy simultaneously, such as putting toy food on a toy plate.
  • Holding an object in one hand while using the other hand, like holding a container and taking off the lid.

30 Months

By the age of 30 months, most babies can do the following:

  • Using hands to twist objects, for instance, unscrewing lids or turning doorknobs.
  • Jumping off the ground with both feet.
  • Take some clothes off themselves, such as an open jacket or loose pants.
  • Turning the pages of a book, one at a time, when someone reads to them.
  • They are saying approximately 50 words.
  • Saying two or more words concurrently, with one action word, for example, “Mama run.”
  • Saying words such as “me,” “I,” and “we.”
  • Naming things in a book when someone points and asks, “What is this?”
  • Using objects to pretend, for instance, feeding an object to a doll as if it was food.
  • Knowing at least one color, such as pointing to a red object when someone asks, “which one is red?”
  • Following two-step instructions, for example, “put the object down and lock the door.”
  • Showing simple problem-solving skills, such as standing on a small chair to reach something.
  • Playing next to other babies or playing with them.
  • Following simple routines like picking up toys when someone tells them it’s time to clean up.
  • Showing a person what they can do by saying, “look at me.”

3 Years

By the age of 3 years, most babies can do the following:

  • Speaking in sentences of three words.
  • Talking in a conversation using at least two back-and-forth dialogs.
  • Asking “why,” “what,” and “where” questions.
  • Saying an action that is happening in a book or picture, like running, playing, or eating.
  • Saying their first name when someone inquires.
  • Often talking well enough for other people to understand.
  • Pedaling a tricycle.
  • Using a fork and feeding themselves easily.
  • Wearing some clothes by themselves, like a jacket or lose pants.
  • String objects like large beads together.
  • Drawing simple shapes when shown how, like a circle.
  • Avoiding touching hot things when warned, like a stove.
  • Noticing other kids and joining them to play.
  • For example, calm down within 10 minutes after someone leaves them at a daycare drop-off.

4 Years

By the age of 4 years, most babies can do the following:

  • Catching a large ball.
  • They serve themselves food or water with someone’s supervision.
  • Unbuttoning some buttons.
  • Holding a pencil or crayon between thumb and fingers (not a fist).
  • Saying sentences with four or more words.
  • Asking a lot of questions.
  • Talking about at least one activity they did during the day, for instance, “I played football.”
  • Saying some words from a story, song, or nursery rhyme.
  • Answering simple questions like “what is a pencil for?” or “what is a jacket for?”
  • Naming a few colors of objects.
  • Drawing a person with at least three parts of the body.
  • Telling what follows in a familiar story.
  • Pretending to be someone or something else when playing, like a teacher, dog, or superhero.
  • For instance, asking to play with other kids if no one is around, “Can I play with Liam?”
  • Comforting someone sad or hurt, like hugging a friend that is crying.
  • They change behavior depending on the setting, like playground, library, or place of worship.
  • Always offering other people help.
  • Cutting out a picture using a pair of scissors.
  • Trying to be very independent.

5 Years

By the age of 5 years, most babies can do the following:

  • Writing some letters in their name.
  • Naming some letters when someone points to them.
  • Counting to 10.
  • Naming some numbers between 1 and 5 when someone points to them.
  • Speaking in sentences of 5 or more words.
  • Telling a story they heard or made up with two or more events, for instance, “my friend was injured, and the neighbor helped him.”
  • Answering simple queries about a story or book after someone reads or tells it to them.
  • Keeping a conversation going with at least three back-and-forth dialogs.
  • Recognizing or using simple rhymes like bat-cat or ball-tall.
  • Following instructions or taking turns when playing games with other kids.
  • Singing, acting, or dancing for others.
  • Doing simple chores such as clearing the table after meals or matching socks.
  • Using words about time, such as morning, night, tomorrow, or yesterday.
  • Paying attention for 5 to 10 minutes during activities like story time or making arts and crafts (screen time does not count).
  • Buttoning some buttons.
  • Hopping on one foot.

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