Does Your Child Have A Developmental Delay?

Activities and behaviors like rolling over, sitting up, taking a first step, smiling, and following directions are called developmental milestones. While every child develops at their own pace, common time frames for meeting typical milestones include:

Movement & Physical Milestones

  • 2 months

    • Can hold head up and begin to push up when lying on tummy
    • Makes smooth movements with arms and legs
    • Begins to track a toy from side to side while lying on their back (2 to 3 months)
  • 4 months

    • Holds head steady while head is unsupported 
    • Accepts weight on legs when supported in a standing position
    • May roll over from tummy to back 
    • Can hold a toy and shake it
    • Bats at a dangling toy
    • Brings hands to mouth 
    • Able to open a closed hand
    • Pushes up to elbows while on tummy
    • Brings hands to feet while lying on back (4 to 5 months)
  • 6 months

    • Rolls over in both directions (tummy to back and back to tummy) 
    • Uses arms to support self in sitting (4 to 6 months)
    • Begins to sit without support (6 to 7 months)
    • When standing, supports weight on legs and may bounce 
    • Rocks back and forth when on hands and knees, sometimes crawling backward before moving forward 
    • Begins to transfer a toy between hands
    • Reaches for a toy during tummy time
  • 9 months

    • Stands holding onto support 
    • Can get into a sitting position from tummy or back
    • Sits without support and does not fall when reaching for a toy
    • Pulls to stand 
    • Crawls 
  • 1 year

    • Gets to a sitting position without help 
    • Pulls up to stand and walks holding on to furniture
    • May take a few steps without holding on 
    • May stand alone
    • Releases objects into a container with a large opening
    • Uses thumb and finger to pick up tiny objects
    • Claps hands
  • 18 months

    • Walks alone and seldom falls
    • May walk up steps
    • Pulls toys along while walking 
    • Squats to pick up a toy and stands back up
    • Helps take off socks, shoes, and hat
    • Drinks from a cup 
    • Eats with a spoon
    • Stacks two blocks or objects
  • 2 years

    • Stands on tiptoes 
    • Kicks a ball 
    • Begins to run 
    • Climbs on and off of furniture without help 
    • Walks up and down stairs holding on to rail or wall
    • Throws ball overhand 
    • Draws straight lines and circles 
  • 3 years

    • Climbs well 
    • Runs easily 
    • Pedals a tricycle
    • Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step
  • 4 years

    • Hops and stands on one foot for 2 seconds 
    • Catches a bounced ball most of the time 
    • Pours liquid, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food 
  • 5 years

    • Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer 
    • Hops and may be able to skip 
    • Can do a somersault 
    • Uses a fork, spoon, and sometimes a table knife 
    • Can use the toilet without help
    • Swings and climbs

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Academy of Pediatrics

Cognitive Milestones

  • 2 months

    • Begins to follow things with eyes
    • Pays attention to faces
  • 4 months

    • Watches faces closely, responds to affection
    • Follows moving things with eyes from side to side
    • Uses hands and eyes together (seeing and reaching for a toy)
  • 6 months

    • Looks around at objects
    • Shows curiosity about things that are out of reach
    • Brings things to mouth to explore
  • 9 months

    • Looks for things they see you hide
    • Transfers objects from one hand to another
    • Watches the path of something when it falls
  • 1 year

    • Finds hidden objects easily
    • Recognizes differences among people; responds to strangers by crying or staring
    • Starts to use items correctly (such as drinking from a cup or helping to brush their hair)
    • Responds to very simple directions
    • Imitates gestures and actions
    • Puts small objects in and out of container with intention
  • 18 months

    • Imitates actions and words of adults
    • Understands and follows simple, familiar directions
    • Responds to words or commands with appropriate action
    • Is able to match two similar objects
    • Looks at storybook pictures with an adult, naming or pointing to familiar objects on request
    • Has limited attention span
    • Accomplishes primary learning through their own exploration
  • 2 to 3 years

    • Responds to simple directions
    • Selects and looks at picture books, names pictured objects
    • Matches and uses associated objects meaningfully
    • Stacks rings on a peg in order of size
    • Recognizes self in mirror, saying baby or own name
    • Can talk briefly about what they are doing; imitates adult actions
    • Has limited attention span; learning is through exploration and adult direction
    • Is beginning to understand functional concepts of familiar objects and part/whole concepts
  • 3 to 4 years

    • Recognizes and matches six colors
    • Intentionally stacks blocks or rings in order of size
    • Draws somewhat recognizable picture that is meaningful to child or to an adult
    • Asks questions for information: why and how questions
    • Knows own age
    • Has short attention span; learns through observing and imitating adults and by adult instruction and explanation; is very easily distracted
    • Has increased understanding of concepts of the functions and grouping of objections and part/whole
    • Begins to be aware of past and present
  • 4 to 5 years

    • Plays with words: creates own rhyming words, says or makes up words having similar sounds
    • Points and names four to six colors
    • Matches pictures of familiar objects
    • Draws a person with 2 to 6 recognizable parts
    • Draws, names, and describes recognizable pictures
    • Able to count to five, imitating an adult
    • Knows own street and town
    • Has more extended attention span; learns through observing and listening to adults as well as through exploration
    • Has increased understanding of concepts of function, time, part/whole relationships; function or use of objects may be stated in addition to names of objects
    • Time concepts are expanding: can talk about yesterday, about today, and about what will happen tomorrow
  • 5 to 6 years

    • Retells a story from picture book with reasonable accuracy
    • Names some letters and numerals
    • Can count to ten
    • Sorts objects by using single characteristics
    • Is beginning to accurately use time concepts describing tomorrow and yesterday
    • Uses classroom tools meaningfully and purposefully
    • Begins to relate clock time to daily schedule
    • Attention span increases noticeably; learns through adult instruction and when interested, can ignore distractions
    • Concepts of function continue to increase and understanding of why things happen increases

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; LDOnLine.org

Language & Communication Milestones

  • Birth to 3 months

    • Starts making loud sounds
    • Makes cooing sounds
    • Cries change for different needs
    • Quiets or smiles when you talk
  • 4 to 6 months

    • Coos and babbles, starting to make speech-like sounds (pa, ba, mi)
    • Giggles and laughs
    • Localizes to sounds
  • 7 to 9 months

    • Responds to name
    • Recognizes names of family members
    • Responds to simple commands accompanied by a gesture
    • Uses gesture for communication (pointing, reaching, waving)
    • Imitates actions (as in peekaboo)
    • Babbles using early developmental consonants (b, m, w, d, n, g)
  • 10 to 12 months

    • Listens to songs and stories for a short time
    • Follows simple, one-part commands (such as: “Get your shoe.”)
    • Understands words for common items (such as: cup, truck, daddy)
    • Babbles long strings of sounds, like baba and imitates other speech sounds
    • Uses first words
    • Points to objects and shows the object to others
  • 12-18 months

    • Identifies many objects and pictures following a verbal command
    • Follows commands easily
    • Listens more to the meaning of conversations
    • Uses several single words
    • Communicates with a combination of words and gestures
    • Points to a few body parts
  • 18 to 24 months

    • Responds to simple questions, like “Who’s that?” or “Where’s your shoe?”
    • Uses a lot of new words
    • Follows more complex directions
    • Asks questions, such as “What’s that?”, “Who’s that?”, and “Where’s kitty?” 
    • Puts two words together, like “more apple,” “no bed,” and “mommy book.”
    • Begins to use more complex speech sounds
  • 2 to 3 years

    • Understands concepts (such as opposites, like “go” and “stop”)
    • Has a word for almost everything
    • Puts three or more words together when talking about things
    • Asks “why” and “how”
  • 3 to 4 years

    • Speech is understood by most listeners, but some errors occur in sound production
    • Uses long sentences, with some grammatical mistakes (“I goed to school”)
    • Tells stories about past experiences
  • 4 to 5 years

    • Hears and understands most of what they hear at home and in school
    • Says most speech sounds in words, some errors may be noted on harder sounds (s, r, l, ch, sh, th, z)
    • Talks in different ways, depending on the listener and place (For instance, they may use short sentences with younger children, long sentences with adults, and/or talk louder outside than inside)

Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Social Milestones

  • 2 months

    • Can briefly calm self
    • Begins to smile at people
  • 4 months

    • Copies some facial expressions (smile/frown)
    • Likes to play with people
  • 6 months

    • Knows familiar faces
    • Likes to look at self in mirror
    • Responds to others’ emotions
  • 10 to 12 months

    • Smiles spontaneously
    • Pays attention to their own name
    • Responds to “no”
    • Copies simple actions of others
  • 1 to 2 years

    • Recognizes self in a mirror or picture
    • Refers to self by name
    • Plays by self
    • Imitates adult behaviors in play
    • Helps put things away
  • 2 to 3 years

    • Plays near other children, joins briefly in their play
    • Defends own possessions
    • Begins to play house
    • Symbolically uses objects and self while playing
    • Participates in simple group activities
    • Knows gender identity
  • 3 to 4 years

    • Shares toys, takes turns (with assistance)
    • Begins dramatic play, acting out whole scenes
    • Joins in play and begins to interact with other children
  • 4 to 5 years

    • Dramatic play is closer to reality
    • Plays dress up
  • 5 to 6 years

    • Chooses their own friends
    • Engages in cooperative play with other children
    • Plays simple table games

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; LDOnLine.org

If you have questions about your child’s development, please contact your pediatrician.

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