Developmental Milestones and Early Detection

Developmental Milestones

Developmental Milestone represents what an average child can do around at a particular age. How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about your child’s development.

While most of these milestones typically take place during a certain window of time, parents and caregivers must remember that each child is unique. Not all kids are going to hit these milestones at the same time.

Following are the developmental milestones, which the children should achieve at different age groups.

Physical development

Holds head steady and unsupported

Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface

When lying on stomach, pushes up to elbows

Brings hands to mouth

Begins to sit without support

Rolls over in both directions (front to back, back to front)

Can hold a toy and shake it and swing at dangling toys

Social Development

Enjoys playful face-to-face interaction with people

Maintains eye contact with familiar people during playful interaction

Knows familiar faces and begins to recognize strangers

Notices and responds to sounds

Enjoys varied playful movement experiences (e.g. bouncing on knees)


Coos and makes gurgling sound, shows playful interaction

Cries in different ways to show hunger, pain, tired

Is usually happy when not hungry or tired

Is able to calm with experiences such as rocking, touching, and calm sounds

Physical development

Puts things in her mouth

Picks up things like cereal’s between thumb and index finger

Sits without support

Start to Crawl

Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other

Can get into sitting position

Pulls to stand

Social Development

Maintains eye contact with people during playful interaction

Enjoys playing with musical toys

Is able to enjoy a wide variety of touch, noise, and smells

Enjoys various types of movement, such as being gently swung in the air by parents

Is interested in playing with colorful objects

Raises hands towards adult to be picked up

Enjoys moving to explore the environment when placed on floor


Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa

Copies sounds and gestures of others

Understands “no”

Looks at familiar objects and people when named

Plays peek-a-boo

Reacts to sudden noises or sounds

Uses fingers to point at things

Physical development

Maintains balance in sitting or standing while using two hands together to explore toys

Is able to turn head to look at objects without losing balance while standing

Crawls to get desired item

Makes an attempt to walk

Is able to take steps toward motivating item

Drinks from a cup

Eats with a spoon

Points to one body part

Claps hands

Stacks two objects or blocks

Social Development

Shows affection to familiar people

Plays simple pretend, such as feeding a doll

May cling to caregivers in new situations

Points to show others something interesting

Points to one body part


Responds to yes/no questions with head shake/nod

Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures for example, sits when you say “sit down

Points to show someone what he wants

Says several single words

Meaningfully uses “mama” or “dada”

Physical development

Walks independently

Squats to pick up a toy

Holds and drinks from a cup

Stands on tiptoe

Kicks a ball

Social Development

Copies others, especially adults and older children

Points to things or pictures when they are named

MayShows independence

Plays mainly beside other children

Knows names of familiar people and body parts

Says sentences with 2 to 4 words

Follow 2-step related directions, e.g. “Pick up your coat and bring it to me.”

Points to things in a book


Uses gestures and words during pretend play

Names objects and pictures

Begins to use 2 word phrases

Understands action words

Enjoys listening to stories

Uses simple pronouns (me, you, my)

Understands new words quickly Identifies

Physical development

Runs easily

Walks up and down stairs- one foot on each step

Attempts to pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)

Makes an attempt to throw a ball, Can maintain balance to catch ball

Is able to walk and maintain balance over uneven surfaces

Coordinates hand and finger movements needed to participate in table top games and activities

Social Development

Copies adults and friends

Takes turns in games

Shows a wide range of emotions

Shows concern for a crying friend

Shows affection for friends without prompting

Separates easily from mom and dad

Attempts to dress and undresses self

Is able to transition to new environment or activity


Follow 2-step unrelated directions, e.g. “give me the ball and go get your coat”

Says first name, age, and sex

Names a friend

Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under”

Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences

Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time

Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)

Understands “mine” and “yours”

Physical development

Coordinates movement needed for quicker sport-like activities (e.g. soccer, kickball, hopscotch, and gross motor video games)

Can run with good balance

Is able to color and do finer eye hand coordination activities like lacing

Has adequate endurance and strength to play with peers

Can maintain balance to catch ball or when gently bumped by peers

Uses appropriate force when playing with peers or pets or when holding objects

Is able to maintain good sitting posture needed to sit in chair

Enjoys swinging on playground swings

Social Development

Enjoys playing in small groups with children of the same age

Is able to initiate and play with another child of the same age

Is able to play in new social situations

Enjoys playing with variety of toys intended for children of the same age

Is aware of risky and unsafe environments and behavior

Enjoys sitting to look at or listen to a book

Usually does not bring non-food objects to mouth

Is able to play with one toy or theme for 15 minute periods of time


Asks “what” and “where” questions

Understands “why” questions

Sing nursery rhymes

Count on fingers

Uses plurals, e.g. “dogs”

Makes clear sentences

Simple understanding of concepts including color, space, time

Early Detection of Developmental Delays

Understanding the developmental milestones and what age range is typical for kids to meet them, you and your healthcare professional can keep a watchful eye on your child's growth and development. If you ever have a concern about your child, be sure to talk to your doctor. If your child does have developmental delays, getting early intervention can help lead to more successful outcomes.

Following are some red flags, which will help you to detect a delay in your child’s milestone. Act early by getting help!

0-6 months

Can’t hold head steady

Doesn’t smile or shows no affection for caregivers

Doesn’t respond to sounds around him

Has difficulty getting things to mouth

Doesn’t make cooing or vowel sounds (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”)

Doesn’t roll over in either direction

Seems very stiff, with tight muscles or floppy

No eye contact

Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a hard surface

6-12 months

Doesn’t crawl

Can’t sit when supported

Doesn’t transfer objects from one hand to the other

Doesn’t reach out to objects

Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people

Doesn’t point to things

Loses skills he once had

12-18 months

Doesn’t point to show things to others

Finds it difficult to stand or walk

Doesn’t copy or imitate others

Doesn’t have a vocabulary of atleast 6 words or doesn’t gain new words

Doesn’t notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns

Loses skills he once had

18- 24 months

Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “drink milk”)

Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon

Doesn’t copy actions and words

Doesn’t follow simple one step instructions

Doesn’t walk steadily or still not walking

Cannot take changes in routine

Loses skills she once had

2-3 years

Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs

Drools or has very unclear speech

Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)

Doesn’t speak in sentences

Doesn’tDoesn’t understand simple instructions

Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe

Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys

Doesn’t make eye contact

Loses skills he once had

3-5 years

Has trouble scribbling

Unsteady walking and running

Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe

Ignores other children or doesn’t respond to people outside the family

Speaks unclearly or Doesn’t talk about daily activities or experiences

Doesn’t show a wide range of emotions

Is easily distracted, has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes

Doesn’t play a variety of games and activities

Can’t brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help

Unable to follow instructions

Loses skills he once had

What should I do if I feel that my child shows delays?

Write the delays observed from the checklist
Contact your child developmental doctor or a neuro-pediatrician.
The doctor will refer you for a medical checkup – blood test, hearing and vision test
Take a certified report and result from the doctor.
Take your child again to the neuro-pediatrician or a clinical psychologist for further diagnosis.
Recheck and read about your child’s diagnosis- be an informed parent!
Attend all parent counseling and educative session offered by the psychologist to understand your child better.
Search for the school and therapy that can support your child’s growth and abilities.
Make sure that the school and therapy provides you with an IEP (Individualized Education Program) with clear, measurable goals. These goals should be revised periodically.
Believe in the abilities of your child!