Developmental Milestones

By 12 Months

Motor Development

  • Enjoys drinking from a cup
  • Begins eating finger food
  • Continues to explore everything by mouth
  • Enjoys opening and closing cabinet doors
  • Crawls well
  • Pulls self to a standing position
  • Stands alone holding onto furniture for support
  • Walks holding onto furniture or with adult help

Speech, Language, and Mental Development

  • Says first word
  • Says da-da and ma-ma or equivalent
  • “Dances” or bounces to music
  • Interested in picture books
  • Pays attention to conversations
  • Claps hands, waves bye, if prompted
  • Likes to place objects inside one another

Social and Emotional Development

  • Copies adult actions such as drinking from a cup, talking on the phone
  • Responds to name
  • Likes to watch self in mirror
  • Expresses fear or anxiety toward strangers
  • Wants caregivers or parent to be in constant sight
  • Offers toys or objects to others, but expects them to be returned
  • May become attached to a favorite toy or blanket
  • Pushes away something he or she does not want

By 12 to 18 months

Motor Development

  • Crawls well
  • Stands alone, sits down
  • Gestures or points to indicate wants
  • Likes to push, pull, and dump things
  • Pulls off hat, socks, and mittens
  • Turns pages in a book
  • Stacks 2 blocks
  • Likes to poke, twist, and squeeze
  • Enjoys flushing toilets and closing doors
  • Enjoys carrying small objects while walking, often one in each hand
  • Holds crayon and scribbles, but with little control
  • Waves bye-bye and claps hands
  • Walks without help
  • Enjoys holding spoon when eating, but experiences difficulty in getting spoon into mouth
  • Rolls a ball to adult on request

Speech, Language, and Mental Development

  • Says 8 to 20 words you can understand
  • Looks at person talking to him or her
  • Says “Hi” or “Bye” if reminded
  • Uses expressions like “Uh-oh”
  • Asks for something by pointing or using one word
  • Identifies object in a book
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Looks for objects that are hidden or out of sight
  • Understands and follows simple one-step directions
  • Likes to take things apart

Social and Emotional Development

  • Becomes upset when separated from parent
  • Likes to hand objects to others
  • Plays alone on floor with toys
  • Recognizes self in mirror or pictures
  • Enjoys being held and read to
  • Imitates others especially by coughing, sneezing, or making animal sounds
  • Enjoys an audience and applause

By 18 to 24 Months

Motor Development

  • Walks well
  • Likes to run, but can’t always stop and turn well
  • Drinks from a straw
  • Feeds self with a spoon
  • Helps wash hands
  • Stacks 4 to 6 blocks
  • Tosses or rolls a large ball
  • Open cabinets, drawers, and boxes
  • Bends over to pick up toy without falling
  • Walks up steps with help
  • Takes steps backward
  • Enjoys sitting on and moving small-wheeled riding toys
  • Begins to gain some control of bowels and bladder; complete control may not be achieved until around age 3 (boys often do not complete toilet training until age 3 ½)

Speech, Language and Mental Development

  • Has a vocabulary between fifty and one hundred words
  • Uses two to three word sentences
  • Echoes single words that are spoken by someone else
  • Talks to self and “jabbers” expressively
  • Has “favorite” toys
  • Likes to choose between two objects
  • Hums or tries to sing
  • Listens to short rhymes or finger plays
  • Points to eyes, ears, or nose when asked
  • Uses the words “Please” and “Thank you” if prompted
  • Makes animal sounds such as “moo”

Social and Emotional Development

  • Likes to imitate others
  • Begins to show signs of independence; says “no”
  • Has difficulty sharing
  • Very possessive
  • Finds it difficult to wait and wants it right now!
  • Gets angry sometimes and has temper tantrums
  • Acts shy around strangers
  • Comforts a distressed friend or parent
  • Refers to self by name
  • Uses the words “me” and “mine”
  • Enjoys looking at picture books
  • Tries to do many things alone
  • Enjoys adult attention
  • Enjoys pretending (wearing hats, talking on phone)
  • Enjoys exploring; gets into everything, and requires constant supervision
  • Generally unable to remember rules
  • Often gets physically aggressive when frustrated; slaps, hits, etc
  • Shows affection by returning a hug or kiss
  • May become attached to a toy or blanket

2 Years Old

Motor Development

  • Walks up and down stairs by holding onto railing
  • Feeds self with spoon
  • Experiments by touching, smelling and tasting
  • Likes to push, pull, fill and dump
  • Can turn pages of a book
  • Stacks 2 to 4 objects
  • Scribbles with crayons or markers
  • Walks without help
  • Walks backwards
  • Tosses or rolls a large ball
  • Stoops or squats
  • Opens cabinets, drawers
  • Can bend over to pick up toy without falling

Speech, Language, and Mental Development

  • Enjoys simple stories, rhymes and songs
  • Uses 2 to 3 word sentences, such as “I do it!”
  • Says names of toys
  • Hums or tries to sing
  • Enjoys looking at books
  • Points to eyes, ears, or nose when asked
  • Repeats words
  • Understand and uses pronouns

3 Years Old

Motor Development

  • Develops a taller, thinner, adult-like appearance
  • Develops a full set of baby teeth
  • Sleeps 10 to 12 hours at night
  • Sleeps through most nights without wetting the bed (occasional accidents are still quite common)
  • Uses the toilet with some help (many boys may not be ready for toilet learning until 3 ½)
  • Puts on shoes (but cannot tie laces)
  • Dresses self with some help (buttons, snaps, zippers)
  • Feeds self (with some spilling)
  • Tries to catch a large ball
  • Throws a ball overhead
  • Kicks a ball forward
  • Hops on 1 foot
  • Walks short distance on tip toe
  • Climbs up and down a small slide by self
  • Pedals a tricycle

Speech, Language, and Mental Development 

  • 75 to 80 percent is understandable; talks in complete sentences of 3 to 5 words: “Mommy is drinking juice.”  “There’s a big dog.”
  • Stumbles over words sometimes; usually not a sign of stuttering
  • Listens attentively to short stories; likes familiar stories told without any changes in words
  • Repeats words and sounds
  • Enjoys listening to stories and repeating simple rhymes
  • Able to tell simple stories from pictures or books
  • Enjoys singing and can carry and simple tune
  • Understands “now,” “soon,” and “later”
  • Asks who, what, where, and why questions
  • Stacks 5 to 7 blocks
  • Enjoys playing with clay or play dough (pounds, rolls, and squeezes it)
  • Puts together a 6 piece puzzle
  • Draws a circle and square
  • Recognizes everyday sounds
  • Matches objects and pictures
  • Identifies common colors
  • Can count 2 to 3 objects
  • Can answer the question, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

4 Years Old

Motor Development

  • Uses a spoon, fork, and dinner knife skillfully
  • Needs 10 to 12 hours sleep each night
  • Dresses self without much help
  • Walks a straight line
  • Hops on 1 foot
  • Pedals and steers a tricycle skillfully
  • Jumps over objects 5 to 6 inches high
  • Runs, jumps, hops, skips around obstacles with ease
  • Stacks 10 or more blocks
  • Forms shapes and objects out of clay or play dough
  • Threads small beads on a string
  • Catches, bounces, and throws a ball easily

Speech, Language, and Mental Development

  • Can place objects in a line from largest to smallest
  • Can recognize some letters if taught and may be able to print name
  • Recognizes familiar words in simple books or signs (STOP sign)
  • Understands the concepts of tallest, biggest, same, more, on, in, under, and above
  • Counts 1 to 7 objects out loud
  • Understands order of daily routines (breakfast before lunch, lunch before dinner, dinner before bedtime)
  • Speaks fairly complex sentences: “The baby ate the cookie before I could put it on the table.”
  • Enjoys singing simple songs, rhymes, and nonsense words
  • Adapts language to listener’s level of understanding. To baby sister: “Daddy go bye bye.”  To Mother:  “Daddy went to the store to buy food.”
  • Learns name, address, and phone number if taught
  • Asks and answers who, what , when, why, where questions
  • Continues 1 activity for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Names 6 to 8 colors and 3 shapes
  • Follows two unrelated directions:  “Put your milk on the table and get your coat on.”

5 Year Olds

Motor Development

  • Able to dress self with little assistance
  • Learns to skip
  • Throws ball overhead
  • Catches bounced balls
  • Rides a tricycle skillfully, may show interest in riding a bicycle with training wheels
  • Uses a fork and knife well
  • Cuts on a line with scissors
  • Hand dominance is established
  • Jumps over low objects

Speech, Language, and Mental Development

  • Knows basic colors like red, yellow, blue, green, orange
  • Able to memorize address and phone number
  • Understands that stories have a beginning, middle, and end
  • Enjoys telling his or her own stories
  • Understands that books are read from left to right, top to bottom
  • Enjoys riddles and jokes
  • Draws pictures that represent animals, people, and objects
  • Enjoys tracing or copying letters
  • Sorts objects by size
  • Identifies some letters of the alphabet and a few numbers
  • Understands more, less, and the same
  • Counts up to 10 objects
  • Understands before and after, above and below (position words)
  • Is project-minded; plans building, play scenarios, and drawings
  • Interested in cause and effect