Parents often look forward to when their infant, toddler, or other young child reach their developmental milestones, such as smiling, rolling over, sitting up, taking his first steps, counting to ten, and tying his shoes, etc.
Take a look at these common developmental milestones and the ages at which children normally reach them, so you know whether they are on track, or so you can recognize when your child’s development may be delayed.
Parents are often discouraged from comparing the growth and development of their own child against that of other children. The reason is that there is a wide range for when children reach most milestones. For example, most children begin to walk well on their own sometime between 11 and 15 months. If you have a group of 12-month-olds, you will likely see some walking well already, and many others still just cruising around while holding onto things. And all can be developing normally.
And even beyond the wide range of normal development, there are always those early bloomers and late bloomers who are also developing normally, too.
If your child isn’t reaching his developmental milestones on time though, it would be good to talk to your pediatrician to see if there might be a problem with his development and any kind of developmental delay.
Smiling is a developmental milestone that most babies reach by the time that they are six, seven or eight weeks old.
There are actually two types of smiles for babies:
- The spontaneous or almost reflexive smile that can occur early in the newborn period, and
- The social smile that occurs in response to something, like when you talk or sing to your baby
The social smile is a developmental milestone most infants reach when they are one to two months old. Not having a social smile by six months of age is commonly considered to be an early sign of autism.
The spontaneous smile can occur as early as your baby’s first few days of life and should be present by the time he is ten weeks old.
Laughing is a developmental milestone that many babies reach by the time that they are six to twelve weeks old.
It shouldn’t be surprising that babies begin to laugh at this time. After all, six weeks is usually when parents notice that colic, which can make babies fussy, is starting to improve.
Rolling over is a developmental milestone that most babies reach by the time that they are two to six months old. It’s often one of the first major motor milestones parents look forward to.
Spending less time prone or on their stomach, since the release of the Back to Sleep recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS, has caused some infants to roll over a little later than they used to though.
It can also cause some delays in picking up other milestones, including sitting up and crawling. Fortunately, by the time they were toddlers, these delays all seem to disappear no matter how your baby sleeps, so it likely more appropriate to describe these kids as having a ‘lag’ in their development and not a true delay. If you want to avoid this ‘lag,’ you might try some tummy time during the day.
Still, most infants roll over when they are between two to six months old, first from their front to their back, and then from their back to their front.
Sitting up is a developmental milestone that most babies reach by the time that they are five and a half to seven months old.
It’s another of the major motor milestones that parents look forward to.
Spending less time prone or on their stomach, since the release of the Back to Sleep recommendations to reduce the risk of SIDS, has caused some delays for infants in picking up some milestones. These milestones including sitting up, rolling over, and crawling. Fortunately, by the time they were toddlers, these delays all seem to disappear no matter how your baby sleeps, so it’s likely more appropriate to describe these kids as having a ‘lag’ in their development and not a true delay. If you want to avoid this ‘lag,’ you might try some tummy time during the day.
Still, most infants sit up without support when they are between five and a half to seven months old.
Standing With Support
Standing with support is a developmental milestone that most infants reach by the time that they are six and a half to nine months old.
Seeing your baby stand with support is fun because you just know it is likely just a matter of time before he will be walking and running all over the place.
Keep in mind that even once infants can stand with support, they can’t usually pull themselves to a standing position on their own until they are eight to ten months old.
Taking First Steps
Taking those first steps is a developmental milestone most babies reach between eleven and fifteen months.
What makes children take the leap from cruising around, in which they walk while holding on to things, to taking those first steps on their own?
Is it courage, balance, or just chance?
Whatever the reason, most babies begin walking well on their own between eleven and fifteen months.
Waving is a developmental milestone that most babies can reach once they are seven to 14 months old.
Although waving hello and bye-bye seems like just a fun thing to teach your baby, it is actually an important developmental milestone. Most experts think that it can be an early sign of autism or another developmental disorder if your child isn’t making any gestures by the time he is twelve months old. These gestures include waving, pointing, and reaching for things.
Keep in mind that most babies can wave once they are seven to 14 months old.
Using a Pincer Grasp
Using a pincer grasp is a developmental milestone that most babies reach when they are about seven to 11 months old. You may notice it when your baby picks up a spoon.
Before they use a thumb-finger pincer grasp, at about seven to 11 months old, infants typically pick things up with a more immature palmer grasp.
Pretend play, or imitating activities, is an important developmental milestone that most infants reach when they are about ten to 16 months old.
Pretend play often involves things like using a computer mouse like a phone, imitating an activity a toddler has seen his parents do over and over.
Toddlers will also begin to copy more of their parents daily household tasks, such as dusting and sweeping, at around 18 months.
Pretend play will get more elaborate as your child gets older; for example, your child pretends he is a doctor, fireman, or race car driver.
Saying First Words
You may hear baby’s first words, usually mama or dada, when your baby is six to nine months old.
Well before your baby’s first words, your baby should be saying single syllables and frequently jabbering or babbling. Not babbling by twelve months is seen by most experts as an early sign of autism or other developmental disorder.
Most infants are babbling well before twelve months though. In fact, you will usually hear your baby’s first words, which are usually mama or dada, by the time she is six to nine months old. Your baby won’t use those words more specifically or correctly until she is seven to 13 months old though.
Playing With Others
Parallel play is typical of most kids around age two.
Group play and sharing doesn’t usually evolve until age three. Until then, most infants and younger toddlers simply play by themselves next to each other, in parallel play.
Walking Up Steps
Walking up steps is a developmental milestone that most toddlers can reach once they are 14 to 22 months old.
Most toddlers can walk up steps once they are 14 to 22 months old.
That doesn’t mean that it is time to take the gates off of your stairs just yet. Keep things childproofed until your child is older. Remember that gates should be installed on both the top and bottom of every staircase in your home. For how long? Probably at least until your child is able to open them on his own.
Pointing to Pictures
Pointing to pictures is a milestone that many toddlers reach when they are about 18 to 24 months old.
Although you can begin to read to your infant or toddler at any age, it becomes especially fun once they begin pointing to pictures in the books.
Most toddlers can point to pictures once they are about 18 to 24 months old, which is soon followed by actually naming the pictures she is pointing to.
Eating With a Spoon and Fork
Eating with a spoon or fork is a milestone most children reach between 13 and 21 months—although they may still be messy.
Once they begin feeding themselves, most babies won’t easily go back to being fed by a parent or other caregiver. Instead, they like to use their fingers, at least until they learn to use a spoon, a milestone most children reach between 13 and 21 months.
Keep in mind that even though your toddler begins to use a spoon, fork, or cup, that doesn’t mean that he will be very good at it right away. So you can still expect a mess at meals for a little while longer.
Riding a Tricycle
Riding a tricycle is a developmental milestone that most children can reach by the time they are three years old.
Preschoolers can usually learn to pedal a tricycle once they are about three years old.
By four, they can usually learn to ride a two-wheel bike with training wheels, which they can take off when they are about five to six years old.
Counting is a developmental milestone that most kids can reach once they are four to five and a half years old.
Like learning their ABCs and printing their name, it is important that preschoolers learn to count so that they are ready to start kindergarten.
Learning to count can take some practice though, so don’t be discouraged if your child isn’t getting it right away. Do talk to your pediatrician if you don’t think that your child is on track to start kindergarten though, including that he can’t count, print his name, recognize letters, pay attention for short periods of time, etc.
Remember that most kids can count to ten or more once they are four to five and a half years old.
Most children can write letters and spell their own name by the time they are five years old, which is just in time for them to start kindergarten.
Making a Tower of Blocks
Making a tower of blocks is a developmental milestone that many children reach at about 24 to 36 months.
Most kids have fun playing with blocks. It is doubtful that any of them realize that stacking blocks into a tower is actually an important developmental test. Making a tower of blocks is usually considered to be a visual-motor/problem-solving milestone, and most kids can make a tower of:
- 2 blocks by 15 to 21 months
- 4 blocks by 17 to 24 months
- 6 blocks by 18 to 30 months
- 8 blocks by 24 to 36 months
- 9 blocks after 3 years
This is a developmental milestone that many kids can reach by the time they are three to four and a half years old.
Before they learn to fully dress themselves, your child will likely learn to:
- take off his clothes between 14 and 24 months
- put on some clothing between 21 and 30 months
- put on a t-shirt between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years
Your child will learn to get dressed and undressed without help, including buttoning his clothes, when he is 3 to 4 1/2 years old.
Tying shoes is a developmental milestone that most kids should reach once they are about five years old.
Although in this day of Velcro shoes and Crocs, it may seem like your child may never need to learn how to tie his own shoes, most kids learn by about age five years.