Developmental Milestone Checklists

Developmental milestones are behaviors and physical skills that are seen in infants and children as they grow and develop. Milestones are different on each age range. There is a normal range in which each milestone may be reached.

At times, delays in meeting milestones can be due to delays within specific domains (such as a speech or motor delay) or can be due to a global developmental delay (GDD). GDD is diagnosed when a child, below the age of 5 years, does not meet two or more milestones in all areas of development. These areas are:

  • Motor skills
  • Speech and language
  • Cognitive skills
  • Social and emotional skills
  • Adaptive daily skills

A child with GDD is one who is also considered to have significantly lower intellectual functioning than their peers.

Causes of Global Development Delay

GDD is normally attributed to genetic abnormalities including development of the brain and spinal cord. It has also been linked to other events in life included pre-mature birth, infections and other environmental factors.

Some examples include:

1. Prenatal or perinatal causes:

  • Exposure to teratogens or toxins (tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs)
  • Prematurity
  • Congenital infections
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Birth trauma
  • Intracranial haemorrhage

2. Prenatal or perinatal causes:

  • Infection (meningitis, encephalitis)
  • Cranial trauma

3. Environmental causes:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Family stress
  • Child abuse or neglect

Here is a list of milestones most children can do at different ages.

Your Child as an Infant — Birth to 1 year

  • Babbles
  • Displays social smile
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Rolls over by self
  • Able to sit alone, without support
  • Gets first tooth
  • Bangs two things together
  • Pulls self to standing position
  • Understands “NO” and will stop activity in response
  • Walks while holding on to furniture or other support

Your Child at 1 year

  • Tries to say words you say
  • Is shy or afraid of strangers
  • Cries when mum or dad leave
  • Responds to simple spoken requests
  • Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”
  • Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech)
  • Says “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”
  • Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing
  • Finds hidden things easily
  • Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named
  • Copies gestures
  • Starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, brushes hair
  • Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container
  • Lets things go without help
  • Pokes with index (pointer) finger
  • Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy”
  • May take a few steps without holding on

Your Child at 2 Years

  • Copies others, especially adults and older children
  • Gets excited when with other children
  • Shows more independence
  • Attempts to push boundaries and assert himself (doing what he has been told not to)
  • Plays mainly beside other children, but is beginning to include other children in their play, such as playing chase
  • Points to things or pictures when they are named
  • Knows names of familiar people and body parts
  • Says sentences with 2 to 4 words
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Repeats words overheard in conversation
  • Points to things in a book
  • Finds things even when hidden under two or three covers
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • Completes sentences and rhymes in familiar books
  • Plays simple make-believe games
  • Builds towers of 4 or more blocks
  • Might use one hand more than the other
  • Follows two-step instructions such as “pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.”
  • Names items in a picture book such as a cat, bird, or dog
  • Stands on tiptoe
  • Kicks a ball
  • Begins to run
  • Climbs onto and down from furniture without help
  • Walks up and down stairs holding on
  • Throws ball overhand
  • Draws or copies straight lines and circles

Your Child at 3 Years

  • Copies adults and friends
  • Shows affection toward friends without prompting
  • Takes turns in games
  • Shows concern for crying friend
  • Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers”
  • Shows a wide range of emotions
  • Separates easily from mom and dad
  • May get upset with major changes in routine
  • Dresses and undresses self
  • Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps
  • Can name most familiar things
  • Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under”
  • Says first name, age, and gender
  • Names a friend
  • Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)
  • Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time
  • Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences
  • Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
  • Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces
  • Understands what “two” means
  • Copies a circle with pencil or crayon
  • Turns book pages one at a time
  • Builds towers of more than 6 blocks
  • Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle
  • Climbs well
  • Runs easily
  • Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)
  • Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step

Your Child at 4 Years

  • Enjoys doing new things
  • Plays “Mom” and “Dad”
  • Is more creative with make-believe play
  • Would rather play with other children than alone
  • Cooperates with other children
  • Talks about what s/he likes and what s/he is interested in
  • Knows some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he” and “she”
  • Sings a song or says a poem from memory such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or the “Wheels on the Bus”
  • Tells stories
  • Can say first and last name
  • Names some colors and numbers
  • Understands the idea of counting
  • Starts to understand concept of time
  • Remembers parts of a story
  • Understands the idea of “same” and “different”
  • Draws a person with 2 to 4 body parts
  • Uses scissors
  • Starts to copy some capital letters
  • Plays board or card games
  • Tells you what he thinks is going to happen next in a book
  • Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds
  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time
  • Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food

Your Child at 5 Years

  • Wants to please friends
  • Wants to be like friends
  • More likely to agree with rules
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act
  • Shows concern and empathy for others
  • Is aware of gender
  • Can distinguish between reality and make-believe
  • Speaks clearly
  • Tells a simple story using full sentences
  • Uses future tense; for example, “Grandma will be here.”
  • Says name and address
  • Counts 10 or more things
  • Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
  • Can print some letters or numbers
  • Copies a triangle and other geometric shapes
  • Knows about things used every day, like money and food
  • Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
  • Hops; may be able to skip
  • Uses a fork and spoon and, sometimes a table knife
  • Can use the toilet on his/her own
  • Swings and climbs

Treatment for Global Developmental Delay

Should your child struggle with meeting these milestones, it is recommended that you meet with your paediatrician or a clinical/developmental psychologist, who will be able to recommend various therapies to support your child’s development.

At Psych Connect, we are focused at providing early assessment and diagnosis of developmental difficulties experienced by your child so that early intervention can be implemented.

Whilst GDD cannot be cured, we encourage children with a GDD diagnosis to commence psychological, educational and social intervention (as appropriate) in order to provide the best chance for improvement to their quality of life.