Developmental Milestones for Babies and Children
What are developmental milestones?
Milestones are behavioral or physical checkpoints in children’s development as they grow. All of our developmental milestones are validated by American Academy of Pediatrics findings.
These are the core skills infants and toddlers should be reaching. Week by week and month by month, you can check in on baby's growth and development by following baby's milestones.
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How are the milestones organized?
We have divided our developmental milestones into the core parts of child development:
- Motor milestones: When will baby sit independently? When will baby start to crawl? Motor milestones track baby’s gross motor skills (in their core and upper body) and fine motor skills (in their hands and feet).
- Sensory milestones: When will baby be able to visually track objects? When will baby have a regular sleep schedule? Sensory milestones track the development of baby’s 7 senses.
- Communication milestones: When will baby say their first words? When do toddlers begin responding to questions? These language milestones are the building blocks to baby’s communication and social skills.
- Feeding milestones: When is baby ready for finger foods? How long should baby nurse for? These milestones help track when babies start new phases of feeding.
Remember, all babies are different! Milestones mark the month most babies start a certain behavior or ability based on baby’s age, but exact timing will vary. If you have any concerns, request an appointment with a healthcare provider.
Early detection allows for early correction or support. I have witnessed the effect this has a on child’s trajectory hundreds of times over my pediatric career. My favorite time is looking back with parents when their children are older and reflecting on the significance of early intervention. We are both grateful.
-Lori Walsh, MD, FAAP
Be sure to adjust for prematurity. If your child is missing any milestones, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider.
0-3 Month Milestones
- While lying on tummy, pushes up on arms
- While lying on tummy, lifts and holds head up
- Able to move fists from closed to open
- Able to bring hands to mouth
- Moves legs and arms off of surface when excited
- While lying on back, attempts to reach for a toy held above their chest
- While lying on back, visually tracks a moving toy from side to side
- While lying on back, keeps head centered to watch faces or toys
- Able to calm with rocking, touching, and gentle sounds
- Enjoys a variety of movements
- Quiets or smiles in response to sound or voice
- Turns head towards sound or voice
- Shows interest in faces
- Makes eye contact
- Cries differently for different needs (e.g. hungry vs. tired)
- Coos and smiles
- Latches onto nipple or bottle
- Tongue moves forward and back to suck
- Drinks 2 oz. to 6 oz. of liquid per feeding, 6 times per day
- Sucks and swallows well during feeding
See Videos of 0-3 Month Milestones
4-6 Month Milestones
- Uses hands to support self while sitting
- Rolls from back to tummy and tummy to back
- While standing with support, accepts entire weight with legs
- Reaches for nearby toys while on tummy
- While lying on back, reaches both hands to play with feet
- While lying on back, transfers a toy from one hand to the other
- Uses both hands to explore toys
- Generally happy when not hungry or tired
- Brings hands and objects to mouth
- Able to calm with rocking, touching, and gentle sounds
- Is not upset by everyday sounds
- Enjoys a variety of movements
- Reacts to sudden noises or sounds
- Listens and responds when spoken to
- Begins to use consonant sounds in babbling, e.g. “da, da, da”
- Makes different kinds of sounds to express feelings
- Notices toys that make sounds
- Uses babbling to get attention
- Shows interest in food
- Opens mouth as spoon approaches
- Moves pureed food from front of mouth to back
- Begins to eat cereals and pureed foods – Smooth, pureed food (single ingredient only), like carrots, sweet potato, squash, apples, pears
See Videos of 4-6 Month Milestones
7-9 Month Milestones
- Sits without support
- Sits and reaches for toys without falling
- Moves from tummy or back into sitting
- Starts to move with alternate leg and arm movement e.g. creeping, crawling
- Picks up head and pushes through elbows during Tummy Time
- Turns head to visually track objects while sitting
- Shows more control while rolling and sitting
- Picks up small objects with thumbs and fingers
- In simple play imitates others
- Enjoys a variety of movements – bouncing up and down, rocking back and forth
- Explores and examines an object using both hands and mouth
- Turns several pages of a chunky (board) book at once
- Experiments with the amount of force needed to pick up different objects
- Focuses on objects near and far
- Investigates shapes, sizes, and textures of toys and surroundings
- Observes environment from a variety of positions – while lying on back or tummy, sitting, crawling, and standing with assistance
- Uses increased variety of sounds and syllable combinations in babbling
- Looks at familiar objects and people when named
- Recognizes sound of their name
- Participates in two-way communication
- Follows some routine commands when paired with gestures
- Shows recognition of commonly used words
- Simple gestures, e.g. shaking head for “no”
- Imitates sounds
- In a highchair, holds and drinks from a bottle
- Begins to eat thicker pureed and mashed table foods
- Enjoys chew toys that can massage sore and swollen gums during teething
- Stays full longer after eating
- Starts to look and reach for objects, such as, food that is nearby
- Shows strong reaction to new smells and tastes
See Videos of 7-9 Month Milestones
10-12 Month Milestones
- Pulls to stand and cruises along furniture
- Stands alone and takes several independent steps
- Moves in and out of various positions to explore environment and get desired toys
- Maintains balance in sitting when throwing objects
- Claps hands
- Releases objects into a container with a large opening
- Uses thumb and pointer finger to pick up tiny objects
- Enjoys listening to songs
- Explores toys with fingers and mouth
- Crawls to or away from objects baby sees in the distance
- Meaningfully uses “mama” or “dada”
- Responds to simple directions, e.g. “Come here”
- Produces long strings of gibberish (jargoning) in social communication
- Says one or two words
- Imitates speech sounds
- Babbling has sounds and rhythms of speech
- Pays attention to where you are looking and pointing
- Responds to “no”
- Begins using hand movements to communicate wants and needs, e.g. reaches to be picked up
- Finger feeds self
- Eating an increasing variety of food
- Begins to use an open cup
- Ready to try soft-cooked vegetables, soft fruits, and finger foods (banana slices, cooked pasta)
- Might be ready to start self feeding with utensils
- Enjoys a greater variety of smells and tastes
See Videos of 10-12 Month Milestones
13-18 Month Milestones
- Walks independently
- Squats to pick up a toy
- Stacks two objects
- Helps with getting dressed/undressed
- Has a regular sleep schedule
- Eats an increasing variety of foods
By 15 months:
- May use 5-10 words
- Combines sounds and gestures
- Imitates simple words and actions
- Consistently follows simple directions
- Shows interest in pictures
- Can identify 1-2 body parts when named
- Understands 50 words
By 18 months:
- Responds to questions
- Repeats words overheard in conversation
- Continues to produce speech-like babbling
- Points at familiar objects and people in pictures
- Understands “in” and “on”
- Responds to yes/no questions with head shake/nod
- Increases variety of coarsely chopped table foods
- Holds and drinks from a cup
See Videos of 13-18 Month Milestones
19-24 Month Milestones
By 21 Months:
- Uses at least 50 words
- Consistently imitates new words
- Names objects and pictures
- Understands simple pronouns (me, you, my)
- Identifies 3-5 body parts when named
- Understands new words quickly
By 24 months:
- Begins to use 2 word phrases
- Uses simple pronouns (me, you, my)
- Understands action words
- Uses gestures and words during pretend play
- Follows 2-step related directions e.g. “Pick up your coat and bring it to me”
- Enjoys listening to stories
See Videos of 19-24 Month Milestones
2-3 Year Milestones
By 30 months:
- Consistently uses 2-3 word phrases
- Uses “in” and “on”
- At least 50% of speech is understood by caregiver
- Follows 2-step unrelated directions, e.g. “give me the ball and go get your coat”
- Understands basic nouns and pronouns
- Understands “mine” and “yours”
By 36 months:
- Asks “what” and “where” questions
- Uses plurals, e.g. “dogs”
- Most speech is understood by caregiver
- Simple understanding of concepts including color, space, time
- Understands “why” questions
- Understands most simple sentences
What to do if your child is not reaching their key developmental milestones
If your child is missing a developmental milestone, request an appointment with a healthcare provider to ask them about how you can get your baby on track!
Remember every baby is different, and milestones typically occur within a general age range.
Baby’s early years are some of the most important years for their development, which is why early detection and early intervention are so critical.
As a general pediatrician I often refer parents to the Pathways.org website for free videos and brochures on tummy time and the stages of infant development.
These resources empower parents to track their babies’ developmental progress and bring their concerns to me quickly so that we can provide resources in a timely and efficient manner.
-Karen R. Judy, M.D. FAAP
Browse our website for additional resources to maximize your child’s motor, sensory, feeding, and communication development!
- Topics pages: Covering a wide variety of health topics for your baby’s developmental milestones.
- Videos: Including milestone videos and Parents’ Guide videos, which shows baby’s development in action!
- Blog posts: In-depth and healthcare provider-approved articles providing important health info to help learn the signs of a delay and when to request an appointment with a healthcare provider.
- Baby’s First Year Milestone Guide: This helpful guide is a milestone checklist for infants. Keep track of your baby’s developmental milestones through this organized, color-coded, and compact guide. The ultimate resource center for baby’s development!
- The Baby Games Calendar: If baby enjoys playing, then check out these fun games for infants and toddlers! Baby Games make caring for your baby engaging and interactive, helping with everything from language development to hand eye coordination.