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Developmental Milestones

Teacher with children in classroom
Teacher with children in classroom

What are developmental milestones? As children grow, they develop specific abilities, like walking up stairs or recognizing colors. Children develop at different rates, so you may find it most helpful to ask whether your child has reached specific developmental and social emotional milestones.

The following pages list several important milestones grouped by the age at which most children reach them. By learning when children usually develop certain abilities, parents and caregivers can understand when a child is doing fine and when a child may need more help.

3 MonthsBy the end of their third month, most babies:
  • Lift head and chest when lying on stomach
  • Hold upper body up with arms when lying on stomach
  • Kick legs
  • Open and shut hands
  • Bring hands to mouth
  • Grab and shake toys
  • Watch moving objects
  • Watch faces closely
  • Recognize familiar objects and people
  • Start using hands and eyes together
  • Begin to babble and to imitate some sounds
  • Smile when they hear their parents’ voices
  • Enjoy playing with other people
  • May cry when playing stops
7 MonthsBy the end of their seventh month, most babies:
  • Roll over stomach to back and back to stomach
  • Sit up
  • Reach for objects
  • Move objects from one hand to the other
  • Support weight on legs when held up
  • See in color
  • See at a distance
  • Use voice to express feelings
  • Respond to own name
  • Babble
  • Understand emotions by tone of voice
  • Explore objects with hands and mouth
  • Struggle to get objects that are out of reach
  • Enjoy playing peek-a-boo
  • Show an interest in mirrors
1 yearBy their first birthday, most babies:
  • Crawl
  • Pull self up to stand
  • Walk holding onto furniture
  • May walk few steps without help
  • Grasp with fingers
  • Say “dada” and “mama”
  • Try to imitate words
  • Respond to “no” and simple requests
  • Use simple gestures, such as shaking head “no” and waving bye-bye
  • Explore objects
  • Begin to use objects (drinking from cup, brushing hair)
  • Find hidden objects easily
2 yearsBy their second birthday, most children:
  • Walk alone
  • Jump
  • Pull toys behind them while walking
  • Carry toys while walking
  • Begin to run
  • Kick a ball
  • Climb on and off furniture
  • Walk up and down stairs while holding onto support
  • Scribble with crayon
  • Build tower of 5 blocks or more
  • Recognize names of familiar people, objects and body parts
  • Use 2 words together
  • Follow simple instructions (1 or 2 steps)
  • Begin to sort objects by shapes and colors
  • Begin to play make-believe
  • Imitate behavior of others
  • Want to do things for themselves
3 yearsBy their third birthday, most children:
  • Can do some things for themselves (like putting on clothes and feeding self)
  • Enjoy playing imaginatively and with other kids
  • Tell stories with 2 to 3 sentences
  • Can be understood more than half of the time
  • Can name a friend
  • Know whether they are a boy or girl
  • Build a tower of 6 to 8 cubes
  • Throw a ball overhand
  • Ride a tricycle
  • Walk up stairs alternating feet
  • Balance on 1 foot for 1 second
  • Copy a circle
  • Draw a person with 2 body parts (head and one other part)
  • Are toilet trained during the daytime
4 yearsBy their fourth birthday, most children:
  • Play with other children
  • Can follow family rules
  • Play with favorite toys
  • Listen to stories
  • Engage in fantasy play
  • Know first and last name
  • Sing a song or say a poem from memory
  • Know what to do if cold, tired, or hungry
  • Can be understood
  • Name 4 colors
  • Play board/card games
  • Draw a person with 3 parts
  • Hop on one foot
  • Balance on 1 foot for 2 seconds
  • Build a tower of 8 blocks
  • Copy a cross
  • Can eat by themselves
  • Brush their teeth
  • Can dress self
5 yearsBy their fifth birthday, most children:
  • Are more likely to agree to rules
  • Like to sing, dance, and act
  • Able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Recall part of a story
  • Speak sentences of more than 5 words
  • Know their name and address
  • Can count 10 or more objects
  • Correctly name at least 4 colors
  • Stand on one foot for ten seconds or longer
  • Hop, swing, and climb
  • Copy a triangle and other geometric patterns
  • Print some letters of the alphabet
  • Use a fork and spoon
  • Dress and undress without assistance



Download our Developmental Milestones brochure in the following languages: