Developmental Milestones Birth to 1 Year

Developmental milestones can be followed in the areas of gross motor, visual motor, language, adaptive and social skills. Most parenting books will give an extensive breakdown of the exact time skills are expected to emerge. There is a wide variation in
development. Some children develop smoothly throughout most of the categories while others will show spurts in certain areas while others seem to lag only to catch up soon after.

Here are some major skills you can look for in your child:

2 months: when on stomach(prone) able to hold head up and at times chest up; hands are fisted 50% of the time; alerts to voice and sounds; coos; mouth opens at sight of breast or bottle.

4 months: props self up on forearms when prone; sits with support with good head control; no head lag when pulled up to sit position from lying on back; hands are open and not fisted; will look at feet and hands; bats at toys; turns to sound; laughs; will take turns with vocal play; places mouth on everything; quiets to parent soothing or voice of parent.

6 months: rolls over from stomach to back; tripod sits with some anterior support of hands; able to push up when on stomach to hands and knees briefly; transfers objects from one hand to another; takes an object when offered; uses a raking grasp to reach for objects; makes raspberry sounds and then early babble by 6-7 months; recognizes own name; increases back and forth vocalization with caregivers; attempts to feed self with hand to mouth; onset of some stranger anxiety;smile at self in mirror.

9 Months: beginning to pull to stand and crawl; bear walk; bang blocks together; grasp
with thumb and 2 fingers; uses “mama and dada” appropriately; repeats sounds and
some words; mature sounding babble; looks for objects when they are dropped; rings a bell for fun; will look in the direction of an object being pointed at; shows anxiety when separated from parent.

12 Months: cruises and can stand without support; walks with 1 hand held; will take a few steps; uses a pincer grasp; can attain and release objects easily; points and uses gestures; will follow a simple command with a gesture; begins to feed self;  says 1 word that is not a proper name.

Development Tips: 25 to 48 Months

  • With your child: make animals, people, etc., from pipe cleaners, string large beads, use play money.
  • Make a tent with and old curtain, sheet or blanket draped over a card table or two chairs.
  • Make puppets from old socks. Tell a story with characters.
  • Plant seeds in paper cups (lemon, orange, grapefruit seeds, grass seeds, carrot top, sweet potato, etc.).
  • Cut and paste together on a piece of cardboard scraps of old fabric.
  • Use cardboard boxes like blocks.
  • Play dress-up.
  • Dance to a favorite song on the stereo.
  • Finger paint a design on a table using shaving cream.
  • Use modeling clay or “playdoh” (get out the cookie cutters, rolling pins, silverware, etc.)
  • Blow and catch bubbles.
  • Make puppets from paper bags.
  • Give crayons and paper and let him create a picture (scribbling is important at an early age).
  • Fill the sink or dishpan with water and let your child play: provide cups, sponges, etc.
  • Read and listen to stories (books and records).
  • Sail boats in the bathtub.
  • Play store.
  • Make string or yarn designs (glue onto paper, wood, etc.).
  • Make and fly paper airplanes.
  • Make popsicle stick designs (glue them).
  • Fly a kite.
  • Make “things” with egg cartons (tulips, caterpillars, etc.)
  • Play a color game (I see something red).
  • Have a race, running on feet, knees, crawling, holding ankles, running backwards, etc.).
  • Have a pea race, blowing dried peas with a straw.
  • Make a “feel” box (cut a hole in the side of a box and put an object inside of the box; have the child tell what it is by feeling it).
  • Teach numbers and letters by cutting them out of sandpaper.
  • Make a picture dictionary (a page for each letter with pictures beginning with that letter).
  • Weigh things if you have a bathroom scale (yourselves, toys, objects).
  • Talk about time with your child (make a clock with a paper plate and hands cut from colored paper).
  • Make a counting carton (number each section of an empty egg carton, 1-12).
  • Play “Simon Says” (leader gives commands and others obey when preceded by the two words “Simon Says”).
  • Play musical chairs.
  • Imitate animal’s movements (frog, horse, fish, bird, duck, snake, spider, etc.).
  • Set up an obstacle course in the backyard (cardboard boxes, barrels, old tires, ropes, etc.).
  • Play a pantomime games (have your child act out a word such as hop, swim, comb, wash, chew, zipper book, swallow)

Development Tips: 19 to 24 Months

  • Encourage your child to creep backwards down the stairs.
  • Hold your child’s hand while coming down the stairs. Encourage climbing stairs while holding the rail.
  • Demonstrate to your child jumping off the floor with both feet. Try jumping off a box or bottom step in front of him.
  • Practice kicking an unmoving ball.
  • Place a line on the floor and practice walking on the line.
  • Practice stacking small blocks.
  • Utilize toys that have parts that fit together (i.e., pop-beads, peg boards, stacking rings, nesting cups).
  • Play “Simon Says” with your child using easily seen motions (i.e., hands over head, clapping, stomping, swing arms).
  • Place objects in a shoe box. Then, give a matching object and ask him to find the same object in the box.
  • Ask your child to do 2 related instructions (i.e., pick up the block and put it in the cup).
  • Place 5 objects in front of the child and ask him to give you “what you name”.
  • Encourage your child to use more than 2 words at a time. When he asks for something such as milk, as him if he wants “more milk please”.
  • Encourage your child to use “me,” “you,” and “I.”
  • Assist your child in pulling pants up or down. Encourage dressing.
  • Give your child opportunities to drink from a straw.
  • Encourage your child to imitate common household activities.


Development Tips: 16 to 18 Months

  • Demonstrate and assist your child in walking backwards and sideways.
  • Place his favorite toys out of reach and cheer him on as he “runs” to retrieve it.
  • Help your child to get in and out of a small chair.
  • Play “bring me” games to encourage your child to walk and carry something at the same time.
  • Hold your child’s finger around a large crayon and make strokes along the paper.
  • Wrap small toys in wax paper or use tissue and encourage your child to unwrap the toy.
  • Assist him in matching a picture of an object with the real object. Use magazine pictures or photos.
  • While dressing, point to clothing or body parts and ask “What is this?”
  • In picture books and catalogs, point to and name pictures for your child. Later on, ask him to name these and reduce assistance as you go.
  • Practice unzipping a large jacket zipper.
  • Assist in scooping with a spoon, decreasing assistance until your child is independent in eating with a spoon. Expect some spillage.
  • Make a game of trying to put shoes on during dressing (either foot is acceptable).
  • Song and activity records are enjoyable because your child can participate verbally and physically.

Development Tips: 13 to 15 Months

  • Give your child a push toy such as a “Toddler Taxi” or a “Shopping Cart.”
  • Take your child for a walk through the yard and allow her to hold your finger during the walk. Talk about all the things you are seeing during the walk and try to get down to your child’s “eye level” when talking about all the “wonders” you are able to see. Ask your child upbeat questions and then see if then answer the questions (i.e., is that a flower?)
  • Stand behind your child and encourage stair creeping.
  • Sit in front of your child and toss a small ball 2-3 feet into the air, encouraging him to do the same.
  • Stand just out of reach and encourage your child to stand up without your assistance.
  • Give your child cardboard books and practice turning pages.
  • Encourage container play using a variety of containers with slots or small openings. Use milk cartons or coffee cans with slot cut on top. Do not use objects small enough to choke on.
  • Encourage ALL verbalization by requiring your child to make attempts at words for things such as drink, cup, favorite toy.
  • Encourage independent cup use.
  • Talk out loud with lively voice inflections about what you are doing, seeing or hearing, i.e., “Is that a train?’
  • Encourage independent in feeding, but give assistance as needed. Practice removing “pull off” clothing (i.e., socks, mitten, hats and shoes).

Development Tips: 10 to 12 Months

  • Have your child pull up along furniture and step along, “cruising” on his own.
  • Pots, pans, mixing bowls, and spoons make economical entertainment.
  • Demonstrate one step toys, i.e., 1 piece form board, busy box, peg board.
  • Present “pull” toys and demonstrate pulling the string to retrieve the toy.
  • Encourage your child to imitate all kinds of movement (funny faces, hand clapping, waving).
  • Name familiar toys for your child, point to them, then let him hold or touch them.
  • Have your child point to familiar objects.
  • Encourage gestural language such as waving “bye-bye” and “hi,” or shaking head “no” or “yes.”
  • Provide your child with the opportunity to begin making choices by presenting him with 2 toys from which to select.

Remember: The best way for your child to learn is by playing with him. Decide on what behaviors and activities you want to increase and then encourage them through play. Children do tire often and, if this happens, stop the activity before he begins to lose interest. Children of all ages become bored with activities so be prepared to change the game often.


Development Tips: 7 to 9 Months

  • Sit behind your child and support him on 2 sides; over a period of weeks gradually decrease the amount of support until he can sit by himself.
  • Encourage your child to roll from back to stomach using toys and necessary prompts.
  • Demonstrate holding and banging 2 small objects together.
  • Encourage your child to manipulate toys at midline by modeling and by presenting them at midline.
  • Place edibles in front of your child and encourage her to poke at them and pick them up.
  • Introduce items such as whipped cream or pudding on a table top or high chair tray. Allow your child to dip his hands in and make a variety of marks.
  • Encourage imitation of gestures waving and hand clapping.
  • Hide an object behind yourself or a pillow and encourage your child to move around this barrier to retrieve the object. Allow him to watch you hide the object.
  • Sing to your child and encourage him to sing back. Use family names in silly songs. Play “give me” games.
  • Make a picture book of family members. Point to the name and talk about these people.
  • Allow your child to play with a spoon during meals, then assist him in feeding himself.
  • Present finger foods that dissolve easily such as cheerios, small pieces of unsalted cracker and allow your child to finger feed himself.

Development Tips: 3 to 6 Months

  • Entice your child to roll from stomach to back, using toys and physical prompts as needed.
  • Play with his toes, patting and rubbing them. Then, bring them to his mouth while he is lying on his back.
  • Touch your child’s hands with a dangling object: then move it away, teasing him to reach for it.
  • Present your child’s with one block, then a second block, encouraging him to pass the blocks from one hand to the other.
  • Hold his favorite toy in various positions in front of him. Encourage him to reach for it.
  • Drop a toy out of sight and encourage her to look for it.
  • Partially cover a toy with your child’s blanket and encourage him to find it.
  • Use pleasurable voices or music to calm him when he is upset or to draw his attention.
  • Place the child in front of a mirror and draw his attention to it, encourage him to look at the image.
  • Bounce your child on your lap or in your arms and practice sounds (pa-pa-pa, ba-ba, ma-ma).
  • Encourage vowel sound production (o-o-o. ah-ah. E-e).
  • Begin to promote gestural language, “arms up,” “so big.”
  • Talk constantly to your child as you move about the house. Call to him to look at you and what you are doing.
  • Be yourself. A lifetime of fun and teamwork lies ahead.

Development Tips: Birth to 2 Months

  • Stroke your child’s cheek or dangle a bright toy to encourage her to turn to either side.
  • Gently play “bicycle” with your baby’s legs during diapering.
  • Gain your child’s attention with a mobile or noisemaking toy. Speak softly to your child while holding him close to your face. Encourage him to look at you.
  • Shake bell rattles from various close range positions and observe your child’s reactions. Place small rattles in her hands and assist her in holding them.
  • Use variety of textures with your child, such as using different types of coverings for the changing table.
  • Talk consistently to your child, observe changes and reactions.
  • Reward any sound your child makes by repeating it and praising him for “talking” to you.
  • During daily activities hum, sing and speak to your child.
  • During feeding, sing, to encourage your child to look at you.

Remember: The first step in playing with your child is to be yourself and to trust your own intuition. Perform activities in a positive, non-threatening manner and observe your child to see what types of activities he enjoys most. Vary the activities to meet your child’s interests. As with any activity, you should always talk to him during the activity. Be supportive and generous with you smiles and encouragement while varying the activity based on her interest that day. Always show your child what you want him to do.

When to Introduce Solid Foods

The introduction of solid food to your infant is one of the most common questions parents ask. The key is to introduce new foods slowly beginning at 6 months of age and avoid mixed foods that have various food allergens. There are certain foods you should be most cautious about. These include egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish and seafood. Introducing solid food prior to 4 months is associated with an increased risk of allergic disease. During the first six months of life exclusive breast feeding is recommended.

At 6 months infant cereal can be added first. Start with rice cereal and then proceed to the other whole grain cereals including oatmeal and barley. At 7 months begin vegetables and start with the green vegetable before the sweeter carrots and sweet potatoes. Generally add only one new food type per week and one food group per month. After vegetables have been introduced begin fruit and then meat. As solid intake increases formula or breast milk intake decreases. Make sure your child’s urine remains clear and urine output is at least 4 times per day. By age 1 year your child should be taking 3 food groups three times per day. The key is moderation and variety. Keep a log of the foods you introduce and look for adverse reactions including mood changes, skin rashes or GI upset.

If your child is at high risk for allergy the following schedule should be followed: supplemental foods 6 months, 12 months dairy products, 24 month’s egg and at least 36 months for peanut, tree nuts, fish and seafood. Certain processed foods including beef and kiwifruit that are less allergenic when cooked should be served cooked and homogenized.

The key is to follow a reasonable schedule that meets your child’s needs and preferences. There is no one right way of introducing food. Listen and watch your child. Respond to her cues and as always remember she is watching and smelling what you eat and how much you enjoy the foods you eat.