Developmental milestones are the skills and behaviors that children typically learn at specific ages. Monitoring a child's growth and development helps us identify any potential developmental delays early on. Children develop in different ways and at different rates, and there's no need to panic if your child doesn't meet a particular milestone at the expected time. 

A photo of a pediatrician and a baby.

Birth to 3 Months 

  • During the first three months, babies usually begin to hold their head up, kick their legs, and grasp objects. These early physical milestones help lay the foundation for more advanced motor skills. 

  • Babies begin responding to sounds and voices and tracking objects with their eyes. These are key steps in developing auditory and visual skills. 

  • Socially and emotionally, babies usually begin to smile and recognize their caregivers. These early connections with others support their emotional well-being. 

4 to 6 Months 

  • During this period, babies start rolling over, sitting up with support, and reaching for objects. These milestones demonstrate growing strength and coordination. 

  • Babies begin to explore objects with their hands and mouth and usually respond to their own name. These cognitive developments indicate a growing awareness of the surroundings. 

  • Babies start laughing and showing a preference for certain people. These milestones indicate a growing awareness of social connections and emotional bonds. 

7 to 12 Months 

  • At this age, infants often start to crawl, pull themselves up to stand, and may begin to walk with assistance. These milestones indicate increasing mobility and independence. 

  • Infants may begin to understand simple words and commands and develop object permanence, the understanding that objects still exist even when they're out of sight. 

  • During this stage, children may experience separation anxiety and start imitating others' actions. These milestones reflect their growing attachment to caregivers and their expanding social skills. 

1 to 3 Years 

  • At this age toddlers start walking independently, climbing stairs, and developing greater fine motor skills. These physical milestones are important for their overall development and autonomy. 

  • During this stage, children increase their vocabulary and develop the ability to sort objects by shape and color.  

  • Children begin participating in pretend play, which helps build social connections. 

3 to 5 Years 

  • During this stage, children show improved balance and coordination and develop writing and drawing skills. These physical milestones support their growing academic abilities. 

  • Children begin to understand numbers and counting, and many begin to ask "why" and "how" questions. These cognitive milestones show their curiosity and eagerness to learn. 

  • During this stage, children often start developing friendships, which play an important role in their social and emotional well-being. Around this age, children often begin to understand and follow rules, both at home and in social settings such as preschool or playdates. This understanding of rules helps them cooperate with others, navigate social situations, and develop a sense of fairness and responsibility.  

A photo of a parent and child playing with a magnet toy.

What do I do if my child is not meeting developmental milestones? 

Remember, every child is unique, and development is a continuous, individualized process. Be patient and supportive and enjoy watching your child grow and learn at their pace, while keeping an eye on their progress. 

If you are concerned that your child is not meeting developmental milestones, you may want to consider the following steps: 

Observe and Document 

Take note of any areas in which your child seems to be having difficulty. Keep a record of your observations, as this information can be helpful when discussing your concerns with a doctor. 

Encourage and Support 

Continue to provide your child with a nurturing, supportive, and stimulating environment. Offer age-appropriate activities that can help them practice and develop their skills, while also being patient and understanding of their unique pace. 

Communicate with Professionals 

Discuss any concerns you have about your child’s development with your child’s doctor. They can help evaluate your child and determine if there's a need for further assessment, intervention, or support. 

Seek Professional Help When Needed  

While it's essential to give children time to grow and develop at their own pace, you should consult your child’s doctor if:  

  • Your child has delays in one or more developmental areas 

  • They lose skills they previously had 

  • They display difficulty in social interactions or communication 

 Your child’s doctor can help identify any underlying medical conditions, suggest appropriate interventions, and refer your child to specialized professionals, such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, or medical specialists, if necessary.  

Cortica can provide guidance and support for your family, as we offer comprehensive developmental evaluations for children, teens, and young adults from birth to 21 years of age. Click the button below to make an appointment.