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Developmental Milestones

developmental milestones journey CDCChildhood is a time of tremendous growth and learning. How very exciting to be a baby…or a two-year-old… or get on a school bus for the first time. There’s so much to know!

Download the Track Your Child’s Developmental Milestones app from National Center for Disease Control.

We all come into the world like small waiting sponges, ready to absorb what’s around us. Yet we’re all different, too—another of life’s little marvels. We also develop at different rates. Some children speed along, practically running before they walk. Others take their time–or need more time. And still others may ultimately need four wheels to get around.

Parents, siblings, grandparents, daycare providers, teachers, and friends watch eagerly for each new step and progression in a child’s skills. If a skill is not learned “on time,” they may worry. Juana’s not sitting up yet, but the baby next door is. Hannah should be talking in full sentences by now! Frank and Ahmed aren’t learning to read as easily as the rest of the class.

But what’s “on time?” What’s “normal?” Does “normal” have a range?

Yes, “normal” has a range. But growth does tend to follow a certain sequence. Skills are expected to emerge at more or less the ages described below. Here are just a few of many milestones a typically developing child reaches in the first year of life and beyond.

Click here for a public service video on communication development expectations for infants and toddlers.

Be sure to remember safety! Click here for a children’s safety guide with info on common household hazards for children of all ages..

Click here for an internet communication Progress Checker. This is an interactive program in which the adult answers questions about the child’s communication behavior, resulting in either an ‘all okay’ message or a recommendation to seek information from the child’s physician or a speech language pathologist, including specifying key things to watch for that were items of under-performance for the child’s age.

Expected Development:

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By 3 months of age

Motor Skills

  • lift head when held at your shoulder
  • lift head and chest when lying on his stomach
  • turn head from side to side when lying on his stomach
  • follow a moving object or person with his eyes
  • grasp rattle when given to her
  • wiggle and kick with arms and legs

Sensory and Thinking Skills

  • turn head toward bright colors and lights
  • turn toward the sound of a human voice
  • recognize bottle or breast
  • respond to your shaking a rattle or bell

Language and Social Skills

  • make cooing, gurgling sounds
  • smile when smiled at
  • communicate hunger, fear, discomfort (through crying or facial expression)
  • usually quiet down at the sound of a soothing voice or when held

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By 6 months of age

Motor Skills

  • hold head steady when sitting with your help
  • reach for and grasp objects
  • play with his toes
  • help hold the bottle during feeding
  • explore by mouthing and banging objects
  • move toys from one hand to another
  • pull up to a sitting position on her own if you grasp her hands
  • sit with only a little support
  • roll over
  • bounce when held in a standing position

Sensory and Thinking Skills

  • open his mouth for the spoon
  • imitate familiar actions you perform

Language and Social Skills

  • babble, making almost sing-song sounds
  • know familiar faces
  • laugh and squeal with delight
  • scream if annoyed
  • smile at herself in a mirror

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By 12 months of age

Motor Skills

  • drink from a cup with help
  • feed herself finger food like raisins -grasp small objects by using her thumb and index or forefinger
  • use his first finger to poke or point
  • put small blocks in and take them out of a container
  • knock two blocks together
  • sit well without support
  • crawl on hands and knees
  • pull himself to stand or take steps holding onto furniture
  • stand alone momentarily
  • walk with one hand held

Sensory and Thinking Skills

  • copy sounds and actions you make
  • respond to music with body motion
  • try to accomplish simple goals (seeing and then crawling to a toy)
  • look for an object she watched fall out of sight (such as a spoon that falls under the table)

Language and Social Skills

  • babble, but it sometimes “sounds like” talking
  • say his first word
  • recognize family members’ names
  • try to “talk” with you
  • respond to another’s distress by showing distress or crying
  • show affection to familiar adults
  • show apprehension about strangers
  • raise her arms when she wants to be picked up
  • understand simple commands

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For children older than 12 months

If you’d like to know more about what experts consider the developmental milestones for children older than 1 year, we refer you to the resource links identified below.

American Association of Pediatrics 
has a wealth of parent information and practice guidelines related to well-visit checkups, developmental screening, as well as articles on health conditions, and childhood diseases and treatments, all available on their web site or through their bookstore.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
has a vast network of collaborative organizations, one of which is The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD). From their web site you can find information related to preventing birth defects, developmental disabilities, and links to fact sheets on developmental screening, developmental milestones, and an interactive developmental checklist.

American Speech Language Hearing Association
Typical Speech and Language Development.

National Network for Child Care
A Guide for Parents, The First Year.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Speech and Language Developmental Milestones.

First Signs
Hallmark Developmental Milestones.

This information has been included, with sincere appreciation, from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities website, which provided informational resources for over 20 years. Regrettably, funding from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education ended on September 30, 2013. Our thanks to the many individuals who compiled and created this useful information.    Originally posted to Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss January 2014. Updated December 2023.