Developmental milestones are behaviors or physical skills seen in infants and children as they grow and develop. Rolling over, crawling, walking, and talking are all considered milestones. The milestones and stages of development are different for each age range and can vary within the set development guidelines quite a bit.
There is a normal range in which a child may reach each milestone and still be in development guidelines. When we talk about child development, we often speak of milestones that children hit at certain ages.
A developmental milestone is an ability that is achieved by most children by a certain age. Developmental milestones can involve physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and communication skills such as walking, sharing with others, expressing emotions, recognizing familiar sounds, and talking.
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For more on this topic, check out the full Baby’s First Year collection
Development Guidelines: MILESTONE TYPES
There are four basic categories for developmental milestones:
involve both large-motor skills and fine-motor skills. The large-motor skills are usually the first to develop and include sitting up, standing, crawling, and walking. Fine-motor skills involve precise movements such as grasping a spoon, holding a crayon, drawing shapes, and picking up small objects.
are centered on a child’s ability to think, learn, and solve problems. An infant learning how to respond to facial expressions and a preschooler learning the alphabet are both examples of cognitive milestones.
Social and emotional milestones
are centered on children gaining a better understanding of their own emotions and the emotions of others. These milestones also involve learning how to interact and play with other people.
involve both language (verbal and nonverbal communications).
A one-year-old learning how to say his first words and a five-year-old learning some of the basic rules of grammar are examples of important communication milestones.
ALL KIDS GO THROUGH STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT AT DIFFERENT RATES
While most of these milestones typically take place during a certain window of time, there is one important caveat. Parents and caregivers must remember that each child is unique.
Not all kids are going to hit these milestones at the same time. Some children might hit certain milestones very early, such as learning how to walk or talk much earlier than their same-age peers. Other children might reach these developmental milestones much later. These differences do not necessarily mean that one child is gifted or that another is delayed; they simply represent the individual differences that exist in the developmental process.
Milestone Build on One Another
Developmental abilities also tend to build on one another. More advanced skills such as walking usually occur after simpler abilities such as crawling and sitting up have already been achieved.
Just because one child began to walk by eleven months of age does not mean that another child is “behind” if he still is not walking at 12 months. A child generally begins to walk anytime between the ages of 9 and 15 months, so anytime between those ages is considered normal.
If a child is over 15 months and still cannot walk, the parents might consider consulting with a doctor or developmental specialist to determine if some type of developmental issue is present.
By understanding these developmental milestones, caregivers and health care professionals can keep a watchful eye on children’s growth. When potential problems are spotted, earlier interventions can help lead to more successful outcomes.
DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES ARE IMPORTANT BECAUSE…
They can tell you if your child is a little behind.
Sometimes a child might be a little behind. That’s ok. Every child grows and changes at his or her own pace and a lot of times there are things you can do at home to help them catch up!
With the child that is a little bit behind, it is important to make sure that they don’t get too far behind. Sometimes being behind is a sign of something more. Sometimes it can be a sign of something easy to fix or sometimes it’s something more serious.
Here are a few examples:
- Problems with a child’s tongue or the roof of his mouth, which makes it hard to form sounds and words.
- Hearing loss. Kids who’ve had a lot of ear infections can have hearing problems.
- A learning disability.
- A developmental disorder, such as cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorder.
They can show your child’s doctor if there is something going on with your child.
Depending on how far behind your child may be or depending on the type of milestones they are missing, your doctor may be able to tell you exactly what is going on with your child.
They can help you get early intervention and therapy.
If your child does have developmental delays, they may be eligible for early intervention or therapy.
They can help you get your child a diagnosis.
If your child is more than just a little behind, then the number one thing the doctors and specialists are going to look at are the developmental milestones. They will want to know how far behind they are, which ones they have trouble with, and what specific areas they are behind in. With a diagnosis your child can get the help and therapy they need to thrive!
MILESTONES BY MONTH
One Month Old Baby
Your baby can’t focus farther than 8 to 12 inches away – just the right distance for her to gaze at your face.
- Loves faces/ recognizes familiar faces.
- Black and white patterns also draw her attention.
- If her hearing is fully developed, she might turn toward familiar sounds, such as your voice.
- She can lift her head briefly and turn it to the side when she’s on her stomach, but when she’s upright her head and neck still need support. Although her arms move jerkily, she can get her hands close to her mouth.
Two Month Old Baby
- Begins to self soothe.
- Starts to recognize familiar faces/smiles.
- Holds head up.
- Movements become more coordinated.
Three Month Old Baby
Baby’s emotional skills will begin to develop.
- He may start to use different cries to tell you what he’s feeling and turn his head away to let you know he’s bored.
- Follow objects with eyes.
- Recognizes/distinguishes faces and loves seeing mom/dad/sibs/family.
- Starts to have different cries for different needs—hunger, diaper change, pain, etc.
- Opens and shuts his hands/swipes at dangling objects.
Four Month Old Baby
Baby no longer considered a newborn. Baby is becoming more alert and eager to explore world around her.
- Giggles and laughs
- Copies, mimics facial expressions.
- Reaches for toy with one hand.
- Hold head steady/ support no longer needed.
- Pushes up onto elbows when lying on tummy.
Five Month Old Baby
Baby is building many skills that will form the foundation for bigger skills that will pop up later on the milestone chart.
- Rolls over from tummy to back.
- Explores toys/ puts them in mouth.
- Starts to babble.
- Loves to look at himself in mirror.
- Entertains himself for short time periods.
Six Month Old Baby
Baby is ready to start accomplishing some huge development milestones especially immobility.
- She will start creeping around and pushing herself on her tummy.
- Passes things from one hand to other.
- Starts sitting unaided.
- Starts to understand simple words.
- Responds to her name
Enjoy these free Developmental Baby Milestone printables to help guide you through your little one’s first year
For 6-12 month milestones, read our article Baby’s First Milestones 6-12 Months
For more on this topic, check out the full Baby’s First Year collection
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