By Prodyut Das

Child Development Milestones

Normal Child Development Milestones (Birth to 6 years)

Check out this child development Milestones chart for milestones from birth to 6 years. If your child's development seems to be lagging behind in certain areas, share your concerns with your child's doctor. If you suspect your child may not be developing normally, it's important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Often times children are not diagnosed with a developmental delays or abnormal Child Development Milestones until they are 2-3 years old. These late diagnoses are a missed opportunity for children. Studies have found that children who receive early intervention services are more likely to lead a typical life.

Child Development Milestones. Growth and development is continuous from conception to maturity and its sequence is the same in all children, though its rate varies from one child to another.

What are Child Development Milestones?

Child Development Milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.

Time scale of Child Development Milestones

  • Prenatal From 0 to 280 days
  • Ovum From 0 to 14days
  • Embryo From 14days to 9 weeks
  • Fetus From 9 weeks to birth
  • Premature infant From 27 to 37 weeks
  • Birth Average 280 days
  • Neonate First 4weeks after birth
  • Infancy First year
  • Early childhood (preschool) From 1 to 6 years
  • Later childhood (prepubertal) From 6 to 10 years
  • Adolescence Girls, 8 or 10 to 18 years
  • Adolescence Boys, 10 or 12 to 20 years

Child Development Milestones are listed under the following:

  • Physical (gross and fine motor) Child Development Milestones
  • Social and Emotional Child Development Milestones
  • Intellectual Child Development Milestones
  • Language Child Development Milestones

Child Development Milestones


Physical Development

Social and Emotional Development

Intellectual Development

Language Development

At Birth

Lies in fetal position with knees tucked up. Unable to raise head. Head falls backwards if pulled to sit. Reacts to sudden sound. Closes eye to bright light. Opens eye when held in an upright position

Bonds with mother. Smiles at mother

Beginning to develop concepts e.g. becomes aware of physical sensations such as hunger. Explores using his senses. Make eye contact and cry to indicate need

Cries vigorously. Respond to high-pitched tones by moving his limbs

3 Months

Pelvis is flat when lying down. Lower back is still weak. Back and neck firm when held sitting. Grasps objects placed in hands. Turns head round to have a look at objects. Establishes eye contact

Squeals with pleasure appropriately. Reacts with pleasure to familiar routines. Discriminates smile

Takes increasing interest in his surroundings. Shows interest in play things. Understand cause and effect… e.g. if you tie one end of a ribbon to his toe and the other to a mobile, he will learn to move the mobile

Attentive to sounds made by your voice. Indicates needs with differentiated cries. Beginning to vocalise. Smile in response to speech

6 Months

Can lift head and shoulders. Sits up with support. Enjoys standing and jumping. Transfers objects from one hand to the other. Pulls self up to sit and sits erect with supports. Rolls over prone to supine. Palmer grasp of cube. Well established visual sense

Responds to different tones of mother. May show 'stranger shyness'. Takes stuff to mouth

Finds feet interesting. Understand objects and know what to expect of them. Understand 'up'and 'down' and make appropriate gestures, such as raising his arms to be picked

Double syllable sounds such as 'mama' and 'dada'. Laughs in play. Screams with annoyance

9 Months

Sits unsupported. Grasps with thumb and index finger. Releases toys by dropping. Wiggles and crawls. Sits unsupported. Picks up objects with pincer grasp. Looks for fallen objects. Holds bottle. Is visually attentive

Apprehensive about strangers. Imitates hand-clapping. Clings to familiar adults

Shows interest in picture books. Watches activities of others with interest

Babbles tunefully. Vocalises to attract attention. Enjoy communicating with sounds

1 Year

Stands holding furniture. Stands alone for a second or two, then collapses with a bump. Walks holding one hand. Bends downand picks up objects. Pulls to stand and sits deliberately. May walk alone. Holds spoon. Points at objects. Picks up small objects

Cooperates with dressing. Waves goodbye. Understands simple commands. Demonstrate affection. Participate in nursery rhymes

Responds to simple instructions. Uses trial-and-error to learn about objects

Babbles 2 or 3 words repeatedly. Responds to simple instructions. Understand sseveral words. Uses jargon

15 Months

Can crawl upstairs frontwards. Kneels unaided. Balance is poor. Can crawl downstairs backwards. Builds 2 block tower. Can place objects precisely. Turns pages of picture book

Helps with dressing. Indicates soiled or wet paints.Emotionally dependent on familiar adult

Is very curious

Can communicate needs. Jabbers freely and loudly

18 Months

Squats to pick up toys. Can walk alone. Drinks without spilling. Picksup toy without falling over. Shows preference for one hand. Gets up/down stairs holding onto rail. Begins to jump with both feet. Can build a tower of 3 or 4 cubes and throw a ball

Plays alone near familiar adult. Demands constant mothering. Drinks from a cup with both hands. Feeds self with a spoon. Attains bowel control. Tries tosing. Imitates domestic activities

Enjoys simple picture books. Explores environment. Knows the names of parts of his body

Uses 'Jargon'. Uses many intelligible words. Repeats an adult’s last word. Jabbering established

2 Years

Can kick large ball. Squats with ease. Rises without using hands. Builds tower of six cubes. Able to run. Walks up and down stairs 2 feet per step. Builds tower of 6 cubes. Turns picture book pages one at a time

Throws tantrum if frustrated. Can put on shoes. Completely spoon feeds and drinks from cup. Is aware of physical needs. Dry by day

Joins 2-3 words in sentences. Recognises details in pictures. Uses own name to refer to self

Talks to self continuously. Speaks over two hundred words, and accumulate new words very rapidly

3 Years

Can jump off lower steps. Can pedal and steer tricycle. Goes up stairs1 foot per step and downstairs 2 feet per step. Copies circle. Imitates cross and draws man on request. Builds tower of 9 cubes. Has good pencil control. Can cut paper with scissors. Can thread large beads on a string

Plays co-operatively . Undresses with assistance. Imaginary companions. Tries very hard to please. Uses spoon and fork

Relates present activities and past experiences. Can draw a person with a head. Can sort objects into simple categories

Constantly asks questions. Speaks in sentences. Talks to himself when playing

4 Years

Sits with knees crossed. Ball games skill increases. Goes down stairs one foot per step. Imitates gate with cubes. Copies across. Can turn sharp corners when running. Builds a tower of 10 cubes.

Argues with other children. Plans games co-operatively. Dresses and undresses with assistance. Attends to own toilet needs. Developing a sense of humour. Wants to be independent.

Counts up to 20. Asks meanings of words. Questioning at its height. Draw recognisable houses

Many infantile substitutions in speech. Uses correct grammar most of the time. Enjoy counting up to twenty by repetitions.

5 Years

Skips. Well developed ball skills. Can walk on along a thin line. Skips on both feet and hops. Draws a man and copies a triangle. Gives age. Can copy an adult’s writing. Colours pictures carefully. Builds steps with 3-4cubes

Chooses own friends. Dresses and undresses alone. Shows caring attitudes towards others. Copes well with personal needs

Writes name. Draws a detailed person. Matches most colours. Understands numbers

Fluent speech with few infantile substitutions in speech. Talks about the past, present and future with a good sense of time

6 Years

Learns to skip with rope. Copies a diamond. Knows right from left and number of fingers. Ties shoe laces

Stubborn and demanding. Eager for fresh experiences. May be quarrelsome with friends

Draws with precision and to detail. Developing reading skills well. May write independently

Fluent speech. Can pronounce majority of the sounds of his own language. Talk fluently and with confidence


Developmental delay or abnormal Child Development Milestones occurs when children have not reached these milestones by the expected time period. Developmental delays can occur in any area of Child Development Milestones. Additionally, growth in each area of development is related to growth in the other areas. So if there is a difficulty in one area (e.g., social and emotional), it is likely to influence development in other areas (e.g., speech and language).

Risk factors for developmental problems may be:

  • Genetic
  • Environmental

Children are placed at genetic risk by being born with a genetic or chromosomal abnormality. A good example of a genetic risk is Down syndrome, a disorder that causes developmental delay because of an abnormal chromosome. Environmental risk results from exposure to harmful agents either before or after birth, and can include things like poor maternal nutrition or exposure to toxins (e.g. lead or drugs) or infections that are passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy (e.g., measles or HIV). Environmental risk also includes a child's life experiences. For example, children who are born prematurely, face severe poverty, mother's depression, poor nutrition, or lack of care are at increased risk for developmental delays. Risk factors have a cumulative impact upon development. As the number of risk factors increases, a child is put at greater risk for developmental delay.

Global Developmental Delay

Global Developmental Delay is a term used to describe a condition that occurs during the developmental period of a child between birth and 18 years. It is usually defined by the child being diagnosed with having a lower intellectual functioning than what is perceived as ‘normal’. It is usually accompanied by having significant limitations in communication. It is said to affect about 1-3% of the population.

The most common causes of GDD are chromosomal and/or genetic abnormalities such as Down's Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome or abnormalities with the structure or development of the brain or spinal cord such as Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida. Other causes can include prematurity – being born too early - or infections, such as Congenital Rubella or Meningitis. There are a number of diagnostic tests that can be done to identify the underlying cause of global developmental delay. Sometimes these causes can be treated to cure the developmental delay, or at least to prevent it worsening. However, often the cause is never able to be fully determined.

Management of Developmental Delay

There is almost never a specific medicine or surgical procedure that will correct developmental delay. The most important thing a parent can do for a delayed child is provide a loving and stimulating environment. It recommended that contact with the physical therapist to assist you in providing appropriate exercises and stimulation for your child. The goal of treatment is to maximize abilities while preventing new problems as much as possible.

Developmental delay and pediatric physiotherapy

A child with developmental delay will benefit from physiotherapy. Physiotherapy treatment for developmental delay should therefore, be started as early as possible as a child’s brain can adapt easily and respond well to treatment.

Physiotherapy will help a child’s development including gross motor skills such as mobility, muscle strength, joint flexibility and balance and fine motor skills such as grip strength and handwriting. A graduated treatment plan will be developed incorporating family, carers and teachers so that Child Development Milestones are reached and significant long term improvement are achieved.

Physiotherapy treatment will focus on:

Exercises to increase muscle strength and control so that your child is able to shift their body weight and balance better.Muscle stretching to lengthen muscles, increasing range of movement and preventing muscles and joints from becoming stiff. Activities to improve head and trunk control. For example, supporting your child in sitting to develop weight shifting, rotation, coordination and balance. Mirror imaging is often used to increase their awareness of where their limbs are in space (prioprioception)Exercises to increase mobility and their success of learning to walk based around everyday activities Physiotherapy may involve exercise for the hand to improve writing and grasping objects. Advice about supportive devices such as using a wheelchair, orthotic devices or other adaptive equipment if necessary. Hydrotherapy treatment helps relax stiff muscles and joints and maximises mobility in water.Short and long term rehabilitation goals will be developed at the centre of your child’s rehabilitation so that milestones are reached and improving their quality of life. Physiotherapy treatment will improve your child’s mobility by using a variety of activities that are fun and stimulating as well as effective.

Physiotherapy treatment has the ability to help your child achieve their maximum potential and develop independence with everyday tasks.

Further Reading

  • Developmental Milestones. Centers for Disease control & Prevention
  • Milestones: What you can expect from birth to age 3. Babycenter
  • Child development stages. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Birth-to-five development timeline. NHS Choices
  • Developmental milestones record. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.
  • Murray GK, Jones PB, Kuh D, Richards M. Infant developmental milestones and subsequent cognitive function. Ann Neurol. 2007 Aug;62(2):128-36.
  • Pachter LM, Dworkin PH. Maternal expectations about normal child development in 4 cultural groups. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997 Nov;151(11):1144-50.
  • Oken E, Østerdal ML, Gillman MW, Knudsen VK et al. Associations of maternal fish intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding duration with attainment of developmental milestones in early childhood: a study from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):789-96.
  • Kelly Y, Sacker A, Schoon I, Nazroo J. Ethnic differences in achievement of developmental milestones by 9 months of age: The Millennium Cohort Study. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2006 Oct;48(10):825-30.
  • Winston Koo, Surinder Tank, Sandra Martin and Runhua Shi. Human milk and neurodevelopment in children with very low birth weight: a systematic review. Nutrition Journal

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