Developmental Milestones

Learn the signs. Act Early.

Welcome to Milestones in Action - a library of developmental milestones in action.

Milestones in Action

Free photos and videos of developmental milestones

cdc.gov/MilestonesInAction

3 Months

Sensory and Thinking Skills:

  • Turn head toward bright colors and lights
  • Turn toward the sound of a human voice
  • Recognize bottle or breast
  • Respond to your shaking a rattle or bell
  • Begins to eat small amounts of smooth, pureed foods

Motor Skills:

  • Lift head when at your shoulder
  • Lift head and chest when lying on his/her stomach
  • Lift head from side to side when lying on his/her stomach
  • Follow a moving object or person with his/her eyes
  • Often hold hands open or loosely fisted
  • Grasp rattle when given to him/her

Language and Social Skills:

  • Make cooing, gurgling sounds
  • Smile when smiled at
  • Communicate hunger, fear, discomfort (through crying or facial expression)
  • Usually quiet down at the sound of a soothing voice or when held
  • Anticipate being lifted
  • React to “peek-a-boo” games

6 Months

Sensory and Thinking Skills:

  • Open his/her mouth for the spoon
  • Imitate familiar actions you perform

Motor Skills:

  • Hold head steady when sitting with your help
  • Reach for and grasp objects
  • Play with his/her toes
  • Help hold the bottle during feeding
  • Explore by mouthing and banging objects
  • Move toys from one hand to another
  • Shake a rattle
  • Pull up to sitting position on his/her own if you grasp his/her hands
  • Sit with only a little support
  • Sit in a high chair
  • Rolls over
  • Bounce when held in a sitting position

Language and Social Skills:

  • Begins vocal play
  • Babble, making almost sing-song sounds
  • Know familiar faces
  • Laugh and squeal with delight
  • Scream if annoyed
  • Smile at herself/himself in a mirror

12 Months

Sensory and Thinking Skills:

  • Copy sounds and actions you make
  • Respond to music with body motion
  • Try to accomplish simple goals (seeing and then crawling to a toy)
  • Look for an object she/he watched fall out of sight (such as a spoon that fell under the table)

Motor Skills:

  • Drink from a cup with help
  • Feed herself/himself finder food like raisins or bread crumbs
  • Grasp small objects by using her/his thumb and index or forefinger
  • Use his/her index finger to poke or point
  • Put small blocks in and take them out of a container
  • Knock two blocks together
  • Sit well without support
  • Crawl on hands and knees
  • Pull himself/herself to stand or take steps holding onto furniture
  • Stand alone momentarily
  • Walk with one hand held
  • Cooperate with dressing by offering a foot or an arm
  • Stand or take steps behind a push toy

Language and Social Skills:

  • Vocalizes during play
  • Babble, but sometimes it “sounds like” talking
  • Say his/her first word
  • Recognize family members’ names
  • Try to “talk” to you
  • Respond to another’s distress by showing distress or crying
  • Show affection to familiar adults
  • Show mild to severe anxiety at separation from parent
  • Show apprehension about strangers
  • Raise her/his arms when she/he wants to be picked up
  • Understand simple commands

18 Months

Sensory and Thinking Skills:

  • Identify an object in a picture book
  • Laugh at silly actions (as in wearing a bowl as a hat)
  • Look for objects that are out of sight
  • Put round lid on a round pot
  • Follow simple 1-step directions
  • Solve problems by trial and error

Motor Skills:

  • Like to pull, push and dump things
  • Pull off hat, socks and mittens
  • Turn pages in a book
  • Stack 2 blocks
  • Carry a stuffed animal or doll
  • Scribble with crayons
  • Walk without help
  • Run stiffly, with eyes on the ground
  • Sit on or propel small riding tow without pedals

Language and Social Skills:

  • More words than jargon
  • Say 8-10 words you can understand
  • Look at a person who is talking to him/her
  • Ask specifically for his/her mother or father
  • Use “hi”, “bye”, and “please” without reminders
  • Protest when frustrated
  • Ask for something by pointing or by using one word
  • Direct another’s attention to an object or action
  • Become anxious when separated from parent(s)
  • Seek attention
  • Bring toys to share with parent
  • Act out a familiar activity in play (as in pretending to take a bath)
  • Play alone on the floor with toys
  • Compete with other children for toys
  • Recognize herself/himself in the mirror or in pictures
  • Seem selfish at times

24 months

Sensory and Thinking Skills:

  • Like to take things apart
  • Explore surroundings
  • Point to 5-6 parts of a doll when asked

Motor Skills:

  • Drink from a straw
  • Feed himself/herself with a spoon
  • Help in washing hands
  • Put arms in sleeves with help
  • Build a tower of 3-4 blocks
  • Toss or roll a large ball
  • Open cabinets, drawers, boxes
  • Operate a mechanical toy
  • Bend over to pick up a toy and not fall
  • Walk up steps with help
  • Take steps backwards

Language and Social Skills:

  • Have a vocabulary of several hundred words
  • Approximately 70% intelligent speech
  • Answers “where” questions
  • Use 2-3 word sentences
  • Say names of toys
  • Identifies action pictures
  • Ask for information about an object (asks, “shoe?” while pointing to shoe box)
  • Hum or try to sing
  • Listen to short rhymes and short stories for 5-10 minutes
  • Like to imitate parents
  • Sometimes get angry and have temper tantrums
  • Act shy around strangers
  • Comfort a distressed friend or parent
  • Take turns in play with other children
  • Parallel play predominates
  • Treat a doll or stuffed animal as if it were alive
  • Apply pretend action to others (as in pretending to feed a doll)
  • Show awareness of parental approval or disapproval for his/her actions
  • Express emotions
  • Refer to self by name and use “me”, “mine”, “I” and “you”
  • Verbalize his/her desires and feelings (“I want a cookie”)
  • Laugh at silly labeling of objects and events (as in calling a nose an ear)
  • Enjoy looking at one book over and over
  • Point to eyes, ears or nose when you ask

36 Months

Sensory and Thinking Skills:

  • Recognize sounds in the environment
  • Pay attention for about 3 minutes
  • Remember what happened yesterday
  • Know what is food and what is not food
  • Know some numbers (but not always in the right order)
  • Know where things usually belong
  • Understand what “1” is
  • Understand “now”, “soon” and “later”
  • Substitute one object for another in pretend play (as in pretending a block is a “car”)
  • Laugh at silly ideas ( like “milking” a dog)
  • Look through a book alone
  • Match circles and squares
  • Match an object to a picture of that object
  • Match objects that have the same function (as in putting a cup and plate together)
  • Count 2 to 3 objects
  • Avoid some dangers, like a hot stove or moving car
  • Follow simple one-step commands

Motor Skills:

  • Feed himself/herself (with some spilling)
  • Open doors
  • Hold a glass in one hand
  • Hold a crayon well
  • Wash and dry hands by himself/herself
  • Fold paper, if shown how
  • Build a tower of 5 blocks
  • Try to catch a large ball
  • Put on shoes (but not tie laces)
  • Dress herself/himself with help
  • Use the toilet with help
  • Walk up steps, alternating feet
  • Walk on tiptoes if shown how
  • Walk in a straight line
  • Kick a ball forward
  • Jump with both feet
  • Pedal a tricycle

Language and Social Skills:

  • Use 3-5 word sentences
  • Ask short questions
  • Use plurals (“dogs”, “cats”, “hats”)
  • Name at least 10 familiar objects
  • Repeat simple rhymes
  • Name at least one color correctly
  • Imitate housework or help with simple tasks
  • Ask to use the toilet almost every time
  • Enjoy being read to
  • Talk about feelings and mental states (such as remembering)
  • Demonstrate some shame when caught in a wrongdoing
  • Try to make others laugh
  • Play spontaneously with two or three children in a group
  • Assign roles in pretend social play (“You be mommy”, “I be daddy”)
  • Know his/her first and last name
  • Understand “I”, “you”, “he” and “she”
  • Believe everything centers around them (“If I hide my eyes, no one will see me”)
  • Answer whether she/ he is a boy or girl