Developmental Milestones Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving "bye bye" are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (crawling, walking, etc.). How your child plays, learns, speaks, and acts offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Check the milestones your child has reached. Take this with you and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.


  What Most Babies Do at 2 Months      
  Social and Emotional:   Movement/Physical Development:  
  Begins to smile at people   Can hold head up and begins to push up when lying on tummy  
Can briefly calm himself (may bring hands to mouth and suck on hand) Makes smoother movements with arms and legs
  Tries to look at parent      
  Language/Communication:   Contact Doctor if:  
  Coos, makes gurgling sounds   Doesn’t respond to loud sounds  
  Turns head toward sounds   Doesn’t watch things as they move  
      Doesn’t smile at people   
   Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving):   Doesn’t bring hands to mouth  
  Pays attention to faces   Can’t hold head up when pushing up when on tummy  
  Begins to follow things with eyes and recognize people at a distance      
  Begins to act bored (cries, fussy) if activity doesn’t change      

  What Most Babies Do at 4 Months      
  Social and Emotional:   Movement/Physical Development:  
  Smiles spontaneously, especially at people   Holds head steady, unsupported  
   Likes to play with people and might cry when playing stops    Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface  
  Copies some movements and facial expressions, like smiling or frowning   May be able to roll over from tummy to back  
      Can hold a toy and shake it and swing at dangling toys  
  Language/Communication:    Brings hands to mouth  
  Begins to babble   When lying on stomach, pushes up to elbows  
  Babbles with expression and copies sounds he/she hears      
  Cries in different ways to show hunger, pain, or being tired      
   Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving):   Contact Doctor if:  
  Lets you know if she is happy or sad   Can’t hold head steady  
  Responds to affection   Doesn’t watch things as they move  
   Reaches for toy with one hand   Doesn’t smile at people  
  Uses hands and eyes together, such as seeing a toy and reaching for it   Doesn’t bring hands to mouth  
  Follows moving things with eyes from side to side   Doesn’t coo or make sounds  
  Watches faces closely   Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a hard surface  
  Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance   Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions  

  What Most Babies Do at 6 Months      
  Social and Emotional:   Movement/Physical Development:  
  Knows familiar faces and begins to know if someone is a stranger   Rolls over in both directions (front to back, back to front)  
   Likes to play with others, especially parents   Begins to sit without support  
  Responds to other people’s emotions and often seems happy   When standing, supports weight on legs and might bounce  
  Likes to look at self in a mirror   Rocks back and forth, sometimes crawling backward before moving forward  
  Language/Communication:   Contact Doctor if:  
  Responds to sounds by making sounds   Doesn’t try to get things that are in reach  
  Strings vowels together when babbling (“ah,” “eh,” “oh”) and likes taking turns with parent while making sounds   Shows no affection for caregivers  
  Responds to own name Makes sounds to show joy and displeasure   Doesn’t respond to sounds around him   
  Begins to say consonant sounds (jabbering with “m,” “b”)   Has difficulty getting things to mouth  
      Doesn’t make vowel sounds (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”)  
   Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving):   Doesn’t roll over in either direction  
  Looks around at things nearby   Doesn’t laugh or make squealing sounds  
  Brings things to mouth   Seems very stiff, with tight muscles  
  Shows curiosity about things and tries to get things that are out of reach   Seems very floppy, like a rag doll  
  Begins to pass things from one hand to the other      


9 Months

What most babies do at 9 months: Social and Emotional May be afraid of strangers May be clingy with familiar adults Has favorite toys Language/Communication Understands “no” Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa” Copies sounds and gestures of others Uses fingers to point at things Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Watches the path of something as it falls Looks for things he sees you hide Plays peek-a-boo Puts things in her mouth Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other Picks up things like cereal o’s between thumb and index finger Movement/Physical Development Stands, holding on Can get into sitting position Sits without support Pulls to stand Crawls Contact your doctor if: Doesn’t bear weight on legs with support Doesn’t sit with help Doesn’t babble (“mama”, “baba”, “dada”) Doesn’t play any games involving back-and-forth play Doesn’t respond to own name Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people Doesn’t look where you point Doesn’t transfer toys from one hand to the other

1 Year

What most children do at 1 Year: Social and Emotional Is shy or nervous with strangers Cries when mom or dad leaves Has favorite things and people Shows fear in some situations Hands you a book when he wants to hear a story Repeats sounds or actions to get attention Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing Plays games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake” Language/Communication Responds to simple spoken requests Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye” Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech) Says “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!” Tries to say words you say Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing Finds hidden things easily Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named Copies gestures Starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, brushes hair Bangs two things together Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container Lets things go without help Pokes with index (pointer) finger Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy” Movement/Physical Development Gets to a sitting position without help Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”) May take a few steps without holding on May stand alone Contact your doctor if: Doesn’t crawl Can’t stand when supported Doesn’t search for things that she sees you hide Doesn’t say single words like “mama” or “dada” Doesn’t learn gestures like waving or shaking head Doesn’t point to things Loses skills he once had

18 Months

What most children do at 18 Months: Social and Emotional Likes to hand things to others as play May have temper tantrums May be afraid of strangers Shows affection to familiar people Plays simple pretend, such as feeding a doll May cling to caregivers in new situations Points to show others something interesting Explores alone but with parent close by Language/Communication Says several single words Says and shakes head “no” Points to show someone what he wants Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Knows what ordinary things are for; for example, telephone, brush, spoon Points to get the attention of others Shows interest in a doll or stuffed animal by pretending to feed Points to one body part Scribbles on his own Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say “sit down” Movement/Physical Development Walks alone May walk up steps and run Pulls toys while walking Can help undress herself Drinks from a cup Contact your doctor if: Doesn’t point to show things to others Can’t walk Doesn’t know what familiar things are for Doesn’t copy others Doesn’t gain new words Doesn’t have at least 6 words Doesn’t notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns Loses skills he once had

2 Years

What most children do at 2 Years: Social and Emotional Copies others, especially adults and older children Gets excited when with other children Shows more and more independence Shows defiant behavior (doing what he has been told not to) Plays mainly beside other children, but is beginning to include other children, such as in chase games Language/Communication Points to things or pictures when they are named Knows names of familiar people and body parts Says sentences with 2 to 4 words Follows simple instructions Repeats words overheard in conversation Points to things in a book Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Finds things even when hidden under two or three covers Begins to sort shapes and colors Completes sentences and rhymes in familiar books Plays simple make-believe games Builds towers of 4 or more blocks Might use one hand more than the other Follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.” Names items in a picture book such as a cat, bird, or dog Movement/Physical Development Stands on tiptoe Kicks a ball Begins to run Climbs onto and down from furniture without help Walks up and down stairs holding on Throws ball overhand Makes or copies straight lines and circles Contact your doctor if: Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “drink milk”) Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon Doesn’t copy actions and words Doesn’t follow simple instructions Doesn’t walk steadily Loses skills she once had

3 Years

What most children do at 3 Years: Social and Emotional Copies adults and friends Shows affection for friends without prompting Takes turns in games Shows concern for crying friend Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers” Shows a wide range of emotions Separates easily from mom and dad May get upset with major changes in routine Dresses and undresses self Language/Communication Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps Can name most familiar things Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under” Says first name, age, and sex Names a friend Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats) Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces Understands what “two” means Copies a circle with pencil or crayon Turns book pages one at a time Builds towers of more than 6 blocks Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle Movement/Physical Development Climbs well Runs easily Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike) Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step Contact your doctor if: Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs Drools or has very unclear speech Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle) Doesn’t speak in sentences Doesn’t understand simple instructions Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys Doesn’t make eye contact Loses skills he once had

4 Years

What most children do at 4 years: Social and Emotional Enjoys doing new things Plays “Mom” and “Dad” Is more and more creative with make-believe play Would rather play with other children than by himself Cooperates with other children Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe Talks about what she likes and what she is interested in Language/Communication Knows some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he” and “she” Sings a song or says a poem from memory such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or the “Wheels on the Bus” Tells stories Can say first and last name Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Names some colors and some numbers Understands the idea of counting Starts to understand time Remembers parts of a story Understands the idea of “same” and “different” Draws a person with 2 to 4 body parts Uses scissors Starts to copy some capital letters Plays board or card games Tells you what he thinks is going to happen next in a book Movement/Physical Development Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds Catches a bounced ball most of the time Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food Contact your doctor if: Can’t jump in place Has trouble scribbling Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe Ignores other children or doesn’t respond to people outside the family Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet Can’t retell a favorite story Doesn’t follow 3-part commands Doesn’t understand “same” and “different” Doesn’t use “me” and “you” correctly Speaks unclearly Loses skills he once had

5 Years

What most children do at 5 years: Social and Emotional Wants to please friends Wants to be like friends More likely to agree with rules Likes to sing, dance, and act Shows concern and sympathy for others Is aware of gender Can tell what’s real and what’s make-believe Shows more independence (for example, may visit a next-door neighbor by himself [adult supervision is still needed]) Is sometimes demanding and sometimes very cooperative Language/Communication Speaks very clearly Tells a simple story using full sentences Uses future tense; for example, “Grandma will be here.” Says name and address Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving) Counts 10 or more things Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts Can print some letters or numbers Copies a triangle and other geometric shapes Knows about things used every day, like money and food Movement/Physical Development Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer Hops; may be able to skip Can do a somersault Uses a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife Can use the toilet on her own Swings and climbs Contact your doctor if: Doesn’t show a wide range of emotions Shows extreme behavior (unusually fearful, aggressive, shy or sad) Unusually withdrawn and not active Is easily distracted, has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes Doesn’t respond to people, or responds only superficially Can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe Doesn’t play a variety of games and activities Can’t give first and last name Doesn’t use plurals or past tense properly Doesn’t talk about daily activities or experiences Doesn’t draw pictures Can’t brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help Loses skills he once had

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