Developmental Milestones by Ages and Stages

Your Child's Developmental Milestones

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Developmental Milestones

Groups of parents often compare their children's milestones...
Developmental Milestones Groups of parents often compare their children's milestones... Photo (c) En Tien Ou

Parents often look forward to when their infant, toddler, or other young child reaches their developmental milestones, such as smiling, rolling over, sitting up, taking his first steps, counting to ten, and tying his shoes, etc.

Review photos of common developmental milestones and the ages at which children normally reach them, both so that you can recognize when your child's development is delayed and you know when he is right on track.

 

A photo of a group of mothers together with their infants, a time when moms often compare their children's milestones...

Parents are often discouraged from comparing the growth and development of their own child against that of other children. The reason is that there is a wide range for when children reach most milestones. For example, most children begin to walk well on their own sometime between 11 and 15 months. If you have a group of 12 month olds, you will likely see some walking well already, and many others still just cruising around while holding on to things. And all can be developing normally.

And even beyond the wide range of normal development, there are always those early bloomers and late bloomers who are also developing normally, too.

If your child isn't reaching his developmental milestones on time though, it would be good to talk to your pediatrician to see if there might be a problem with his development and any kind of developmental delay.

Take that group of 12 month olds again. If you notice that they are all either cruising or walking, but your child still isn't even pulling up to a standing position, then he likely is delayed. Talking to your pediatrician would be a good next step in evaluating his development.

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A Smiling Baby

A Smiling Baby
Developmental Milestones A Smiling Baby. Photo (c) Tari Faris

A photo of a baby smiling, a developmental milestone that most babies reach by the time that they are six to eight weeks old.

There are actually two types of smiles for babies:

  • the spontaneous or almost reflexive smile that can occur early in the newborn period, and
  • the social smile that occurs in response to something, like when you talk or sing to your baby

The

social smile

is a developmental milestone that most infants reach when they are one to two months old. Not having a social smile by six months of age is commonly considered to be an

early sign of autism

.

The spontaneous smile can occur as early as your baby's first few days of life and should be present by the time he is ten weeks old.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

3
A Baby Laughing

A Baby Laughing
Developmental Milestones A Baby Laughing. Photo (c) Ben Conlan

A photo of a baby laughing, a developmental milestone that many babies reach by the time that they are six to twelve weeks old.

It shouldn't be surprising that babies begin to laugh when they are six to twelve weeks old. After all, six weeks is usually when parents notice that colic, which can make babies fussy, is starting to improve.

Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

4
A Baby Rolling Over

A Baby Rolling Over
Developmental Milestones A Baby Rolling Over. Photo (c) Amanda Rohde

A photo of a baby rolling over, a developmental milestone that most babies reach by the time that they are two to six months old.

Rolling over is often one of the first major motor milestones that parents look forward to.

Spending less time prone or on their stomach, since the release of the Back to Sleep recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS, has caused some infants to roll over a little later than they used to though.

It can also cause some delays in picking up other milestones, including sitting up and crawling. Fortunately, by the time they were toddlers, these delays all seem to disappear no matter how your baby sleeps, so it likely more appropriate to describe these kids as having a 'lag' in their development and not a true delay. If you want to avoid this 'lag,' you might try some tummy time during the day.

Still, most infants roll over when they are between two to six months old, first from their front to their back, and then from their back to their front.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

Association between sleep position and early motor development. Majnemer A - J Pediatr - 01-NOV-2006; 149(5): 623-629

5
A Baby Sitting Up

A Baby Sitting Up
Developmental Milestones A Baby Sitting Up. Photo (c) Jordan Chesbrough

A photo of a baby sitting up, a developmental milestone that most babies reach by the time that they are five and a half to seven months old.

Sitting up is another of the major motor milestones that parents look forward to.

Spending less time prone or on their stomach, since the release of the Back to Sleep recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS, has caused some delays for infants in picking up some milestones. These milestones including sitting up, rolling over, and crawling. Fortunately, by the time they were toddlers, these delays all seem to disappear no matter how your baby sleeps, so it's likely more appropriate to describe these kids as having a 'lag' in their development and not a true delay. If you want to avoid this 'lag,' you might try some tummy time during the day.

Still, most infants sit up without support when they are between five and a half to seven months old.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

Association between sleep position and early motor development. Majnemer A - J Pediatr - 01-NOV-2006; 149(5): 623-629

6
Standing with Support

A Baby Standing with Support of a Crib
Developmental Milestones A Baby Standing with Support of a Crib. Photo (c) Michael Blackburn

A photo of a baby standing with support, a developmental milestone that most infants reach by the time that they are six and a half to nine months old.

Seeing your baby stand with support is fun, because you just know it is likely just a matter of time before he will be walking and running all over the place.

Keep in mind that even once infants can stand with support, they can't usually pull themselves to a standing position on their own until they are eight to ten months old.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

7
Baby's First Steps

A Baby's First Steps
Developmental Milestones A Baby's First Steps. Photo (c) Paul Kline

A photo of a baby taking her first steps, a developmental milestone most babies reach between eleven and fifteen months.

What makes children take the leap from cruising around, in which they walk while holding on to things, to taking those first steps on their own?

Is it courage, balance, or just chance?

Whatever the reason, most babies begin walking well on their own between eleven and fifteen months.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

8
Waving Bye-Bye

A Baby Waving Bye-Bye
Developmental Milestones A Baby Waving Bye-Bye. Photo (c) Todd Aarnes

A photo of a baby waving bye-bye, a developmental milestone that most babies can reach once they are seven to 14 months old.

Although waving hello and bye-bye seems like just a fun thing to teach your baby, it is actually an important developmental milestone. Most experts think that it can be an early sign of autism or another developmental disorder if your child isn't making any gestures by the time he is twelve months old. These gestures include waving, pointing, and reaching for things.

Keep in mind that most babies can wave once they are seven to 14 months old.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

9
Pincer Grasp

A Baby Picking Up Cereal with a Pincer Grasp
Developmental Milestones A Baby Picking Up Cereal with a Pincer Grasp. Photo (c) Shannon Long

A photo of a baby picking up cereal with a pincer grasp, a developmental milestone that most babies reach when they are about seven to 11 months old.

Before they use a thumb-finger pincer grasp, at about seven to 11 months old, infants typically pick things up with a more immature palmer grasp.

Keep in mind that the sugary cereal shown above isn't really a good finger food for your child...



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

10
Pretend Play

Pretend Play
Developmental Milestones Pretend Play. Photo (c) Alex Motrenko

Pretend play, or imitating activities, is an important developmental milestone that most infants reach when they are about ten to 16 months old.

Pretend play often involves things like using a computer mouse like a phone, imitating an activity a toddler has seen his parents do over and over.

Toddlers will also begin to copy more of their parents daily household tasks, such as dusting and sweeping, at around 18 months.

Pretend play will get more elaborate as your child gets older; for example, your child pretends he is a doctor, fireman, or race car driver.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

11
Baby's First Words

A Baby's First Words are Usually Mama or Dada
Developmental Milestones A Baby's First Words are Usually Mama or Dada. Photo (c) Jan Tyler

A photo of a baby's first words, which are usually mama or dada, and which you may hear for the first time when your baby is six to nine months old.

Well before your baby's first words, your baby should be saying single syllables and frequently jabbering or babbling. Not babbling by twelve months is seen by most experts as an early sign of autism or other developmental disorder.

Most infants are babbling well before twelve months though. In fact, you will usually hear your baby's first words, which are usually mama or dada, by the time she is six to nine months old. Your baby won't use those words more specifically or correctly until she is seven to 13 months old though.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

12
Parallel Play

Toddlers Playing Next to Each Other
Developmental Milestones Toddlers Playing Next to Each Other. Photo (c) Zsolt Nyulaszi

A photo of toddlers playing next to each other, which is called parallel play, and is typical of most kids around age two.

Group play and sharing doesn't usually evolve until age three. Until then, most infants and younger toddlers simply play by themselves next to each other, in parallel play.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

13
A Toddler Walking Up Steps

A Toddler Walking Up Steps
Developmental Milestones A Toddler Walking Up Steps. Photo (c) Rose Hayes

A photo of a toddler walking up steps, a developmental milestone that most toddlers can reach once they are 14 to 22 months old.

Most toddlers can walk up steps once they are 14 to 22 months old.

That doesn't mean that it is time to take the gates off of your stairs just yet. Keep things childproofed until your child is older. Remember that gates should be installed on both the top and bottom of every staircase in your home. For how long? Probably at least until your child is able to open them on his own.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

14
Pointing to Pictures

A Toddler Reading a Book and Pointing to Pictures
Developmental Milestones A Toddler Reading a Book and Pointing to Pictures. Photo (c) Roman Milert

A photo of a toddler reading a book with his mother and pointing to pictures, a milestone that many toddlers reach when they are about 18 to 24 months old.

Although you can begin to read to your infant or toddler at any age, it becomes especially fun once they begin pointing to pictures in the books.

Most toddlers can point to pictures once they are about 18 to 24 months old, which is soon followed by actually naming the pictures she is pointing to.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

15
Eating with a Spoon and Fork

A Toddler Eating with a Spoon.
Developmental Milestones A Toddler Eating with a Spoon. Photo (c) Nikolay Suslov

A photo of a toddler feeding himself with a spoon, a milestone most children reach between 13 and 21 months, although they may still be messy.

Once they begin feeding themselves, most babies won't easily go back to being fed by a parent or other caregiver. Instead, they like to use their fingers, at least until they learn to use a spoon, a milestone most children reach between 13 and 21 months.

Keep in mind that even though your toddler begins to use a spoon, fork, or cup, that doesn't mean that he will be very good at it right away. So you can still expect a mess at meals for a little while longer.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

16
Riding a Tricycle

Riding a Tricycle
Developmental Milestones Riding a Tricycle. Photo (c) Andrew Rich

A photo of a preschooler riding a tricycle, a developmental milestone that most children can reach by the time they are three years old.

Preschoolers can usually learn to pedal a tricycle once they are about three years old.

By four, they can usually learn to ride a two wheel bike with training wheels, which they can take off when they are about five to six years old.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

17
Counting

A Preschooler Counting 'Little Piggies'
Developmental Milestones A Preschooler Counting 'Little Piggies'. Photo (c) Jennifer Sheets

A photo of a preschooler counting her toes, a developmental milestone that most kids can reach once they are four to five and a half years old.

Like learning their ABC's and printing their name, it is important that preschoolers learn to count so that they are ready to start kindergarten.

Learning to count can take some practice though, so don't be discouraged if your child isn't getting it right away. Do talk to your pediatrician if you don't think that your child is on track to start kindergarten though, including that he can't count, print his name, recognize letters, pay attention for short periods of time, etc.

Remember that most kids can count to ten or more once they are four to five and a half years old.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

18
Writing Letters

A Child Writing His Letters
Developmental Milestones A Child Writing His Letters. Photo (c) Don Bayley

A photo of a child writing the letters of the alphabet.

Most children can write letters and spell their own name by the time they are five years old, which is just in time for them to start kindergarten.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

19
Making a Tower of Blocks

A Toddler Making a Tower of Blocks
Developmental Milestones A Toddler Making a Tower of Blocks. Photo (c) René Mansi

A photo of a toddler making a tower of eight blocks, a developmental milestone that many children reach at about 24 to 36 months.

Most kids have fun playing with blocks. It is doubtful that any of them realize that stacking blocks into a tower is actually an important developmental test. Making a tower of blocks is usually considered to be a visual-motor/problem solving milestone, and most kids can make a tower of:

  • 2 blocks by 15 to 21 months
  • 4 blocks by 17 to 24 months
  • 6 blocks by 18 to 30 months
  • 8 blocks by 24 to 36 months
  • 9 blocks after 3 years



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

20
A Child Dressing Himself

A Child Dressing Himself
Developmental Milestones A Child Dressing Himself. Photo (c) Tyler Stalman

A photo of a child dressing himself, a developmental milestone that many kids can reach by the time they are three to four and a half years old.

Before they learn to fully dress themselves, your child will likely learn to:

  • take off his clothes between 14 and 24 months
  • put on some clothing between 21 and 30 months
  • put on a t-shirt between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years

Your child will learn to get dressed and undressed without help, including buttoning his clothes, when he is 3 to 4 1/2 years old.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

21
Tying Shoes

A Child Getting His Shoes Tied
Developmental Milestones A Child Getting His Shoes Tied. Photo (c) Steve Rabin

A photo of a child getting his shoes tied for him, a developmental milestone that most kids should reach once they are about five years old.

Although in this day of Velcro shoes and Crocs, it may seem like your child may never need to learn how to tie his own shoes, most kids learn by about age five years.



Sources:

Functional developmental evaluation. Prerequisite to habilitation. Capute AJ - Pediatr Clin North Am - 01-FEB-1973; 20(1): 3-26

Linguistic and auditory milestones during the first two years of life: a language inventory for the practitioner. Capute AJ - Clin Pediatr (Phila) - 01-NOV-1978; 17(11): 847-53

Clinical linguistic and auditory milestone scale: prediction of cognition in infancy. Capute AJ - Dev Med Child Neurol - 01-DEC-1986; 28(6): 762-71

The Denver Developmental Assessment (Denver II)

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