Feature | Parent’s Guide To Milestones In Child Development | Social and Emotional

Parent’s Guide To Milestones In Child Development

Last updated on December 11th, 2022 at 10:28 pm

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As a parent, you probably worry about the milestones in child development. Is their social-emotional development where it is supposed to be, according to their age? Is their health and well-being looked after? Here is a guide to help you know if your child is developing well and whether they require early intervention.

Milestones in Child Development | A Short Concise Guide for Moms and Dads

In this article:

Developmental Milestones at 1 Month

Some of the most important milestones in child development occur during your child’s first 30 days.

By the time they are a month old, most babies can make quivering or jerky arm thrusts. They can even bring their hands within the general range of their eyes and mouth, although they tend to keep them in tight fists.

Their neck muscles are strong enough to move their heads from side to side when lying on their stomachs, but their head will flop backward if it does not have support. Infants already have strong reflex movements at this age.

Visual and Hearing Milestones

By 1 month, your baby can usually focus on objects 8 to 12 inches away. Their eyes will wander. Do not worry if the baby’s eyes occasionally cross.

Young children prefer black-and-white patterns and those with a lot of contrast. Most of all, your baby will prefer a human face to all other patterns.

A baby’s hearing is fully mature by the age of 1 month. They will recognize some sounds and even turn their head toward familiar voices and sounds.

Smell and Touch Milestones

Babies definitely have developed smell and touch preferences by the time they are a month old. During early childhood, they usually prefer sweet smells to bitter or acidic aromas. They can also recognize the scent of their mother’s own breast milk. At this age, babies want soft sensations and gentle, smooth handling.

Developmental Milestones Health Watch

Be aware of the signs of developmental delays during your baby’s second, third, or fourth week of life. Notify your pediatrician if your baby:

  • Sucks poorly and slowly
  • Does not blink at bright lights
  • Does not focus on or follow nearby objects that move from side to side
  • Rarely moves their arms and legs or seems stiff when they do
  • Seems like they have floppy or excessively loose limbs
  • Has a lower jaw that trembles all the time, even when they are not excited or upset
  • Does not jump or otherwise respond to loud noises

Developmental Milestones at 3 Months

Developmental Milestones at 3 Months | Parent’s Guide To Milestones In Child Development | Social and Emotional
A 3-month-old baby is developing motor skills. They can usually raise their head and chest and support their upper body with their arms when lying on their stomach.

By this time, they can stretch out and kick their legs when lying on their stomach or back. They will push down on their legs when on a firm surface.

Their hands are busier now. They open and shut them, bring their hands to their mouth, grasp and shake hand toys, and even swipe at dangling objects.

Visual and Hearing Milestones

By 3 months, a baby usually watches faces carefully and can follow moving objects with their eyes. They recognize familiar people and objects at a distance. They also start using their eyes and hands in coordination.

Babies typically begin to babble at this age and imitate some sounds. They can turn their head toward the direction of a sound and even smile at the voice of their parents.

Social and Emotional Milestones

Babies now have the ability to smile. They enjoy playing with others and may even cry when the playing stops. They express themselves with their faces and bodies. At this age, babies even imitate some facial expressions and movements.

Developmental Milestones Health Watch

Notify your pediatrician if you notice that your baby:

  • Does not react to loud noises
  • Does not notice their hands or smile at the sound of your voice by 2 months old
  • Cannot follow moving objects with their eyes by the second or third month
  • Does not smile at people by the time they are 3 months old
  • Cannot grasp and hold on to objects, or support their head well, at 3 months
  • Does not babble, or babbles but does not imitate your sounds by 4 months
  • Does not bring objects to their mouth by 3 to 4 months
  • Cannot push down with their legs when you place your baby on a firm surface
  • Has crossed eyes most of the time or has trouble moving one or both eyes in every direction
  • Either does not pay attention to new faces or seems frightened by them

Developmental Milestones at 7 Months

Developmental Milestones at 7 Months | Parent’s Guide To Milestones In Child Development | Social and Emotional
One of the milestones in child development in 7 months is your baby should be able to roll from front to back and from back to front. Your little one may be able to sit with the support of their hands and then, later, without. They can also support their body weight with their legs.

Your baby will also develop fine motor skills. They can reach with one hand, transfer objects from one hand to the other, and use their fingers to grasp objects.

Visual Milestones

By 7 months, your baby is seeing in full color and can track moving objects better. They can also see farther away than ever before.

Language Development Milestones

Your baby responds to their own name and reacts to no. By this age, babies can distinguish your emotions from the tone of your voice. They can also respond to sounds and use their voice to express displeasure and joy. Your child is probably babbling chains of consonants by now.

Cognitive Development Milestones

Brain development is never more prominent than when they are 7 months. Around this time, they can start thinking about and understanding the world around them.

Your baby starts to explore the world with their hands and mouth, works to get objects that are out of reach, and finds partially hidden items.

Social and Emotional Milestones

One of the significant milestones in child development is they learn to social play at about 7 months. They take interest in other people’s emotions. They also like to look in the mirror.

Developmental Milestones Health Watch

Talk to your pediatrician if your baby:

  • Seems very stiff or very floppy
  • Still flops their head back when you pull them up to a sitting position
  • Reaches with only one hand
  • Refuses to cuddle or show affection
  • Does not seem to enjoy being around people
  • Does not respond to sounds or turn their head to locate sounds
  • Cannot roll over in either direction by 5 months or sit with help by 6 months
  • Does not smile spontaneously by 5 months or laugh by 6 months
  • Does not follow objects one to six feet away with their eyes
  • Is not babbling by 8 months
  • Has no interest in playing peekaboo by 8 months

Developmental Milestones at 1 Year

Developmental Milestones at 1 Year | Parent’s Guide To Milestones In Child Development | Social and Emotional
By 1 year, your baby should sit without help, get on their hands and knees, crawl, and even creep. The baby should even pull themselves up to a standing position, stand for a moment without help, and walk around while holding on to furniture.

Milestones in Hand and Finger Skills

Your baby’s hands are getting nimble. They can pinch items between their finger and thumb, bang two cubes together, put things into a container, and take them out again. They can poke items with their index finger and try to scribble with a pen.

Language Milestones

At 1 year, a baby pays more attention to the speech. They respond to no and other verbal requests. Your little one can also shake their head for “no.” They can say “mama” and “dada,” and “uh-oh” and try to say other words.

Cognitive Development Milestones

One of the milestones in child development around this age is their ability to find hidden objects easily. They explore items by shaking, throwing, dropping, and banging them.

They can imitate gestures and can now drink from a cup, brush their hair, and dial a toy phone.

When you say the name of a person or item in a book or picture, your baby can look or point at the correct picture.

Social and Emotional Milestones

By the end of the first year, your baby may now be shy or anxious with strangers. They enjoy imitating other people when they play. They also prefer certain people or toys by now.

Your child can test you by refusing food or crying when you leave the room. Your little one is now eating finger food. They can also help with dressing by extending their arms or legs.

Make an appointment with a pediatrician if your baby shows the following signs of developmental delay between 8 and 12 months:

  • Does not crawl or drags one side of the body while crawling
  • Cannot stand with support
  • Does not look for things that you hide while they watch
  • Does not say simple words, such as “mama” or “dada”
  • Cannot wave, shake head, or use other gestures
  • Does not point to objects or pictures

Developmental Milestones at 2 Years

Remember the terrible twos? The 2-year-olds are busy! Your baby now walks alone. They carry toddler toys or pull them as they walk.

They can stand on tiptoes, run, kick balls, and get onto and down from furniture by themselves. Your child can even walk up and down the stairs with a little help.

Milestones in Hand and Finger Skills

One of the milestones in child development is they can now scribble, turn over containers to empty them, and build towers with blocks. They may use one hand more often than the other.

Language Development Milestones

Speech and language become important. Say the name of something, and your baby can now point to it. They recognize the names of familiar people, things, and even body parts. They can say several words by 15 to 18 months and repeat words too.

Your baby uses two- to four-word sentences. They use simple phrases by 18 to 24 months. Your tot can even follow simple instructions.

Cognitive Development Milestones

Your baby can find things hidden under two or three layers of cover. They also start to sort things by shapes and colors. By this age, your baby is starting to play make-believe.

Social and Emotional Milestones

At 2 years, kids begin to imitate the behavior of others. They learn to enjoy the company of other children. Kids also show increasing independence at this age and even may show defiant behavior.

Developmental Milestones Health Watch

Notify your pediatrician if your 2-year-old:

  • Cannot walk by 18 months
  • Does not use a normal heel-toe walking pattern after being able to walk for several months
  • Does not speak at least 15 words by the age of 18 months
  • Cannot use two-word sentences by 24 months
  • Cannot use a common object, such as a fork, spoon, brush, or bell correctly
  • Does not imitate words or actions
  • Does not follow simple instructions

Developmental Milestones at 4 Years

Developmental Milestones at 4 Years | Parent’s Guide To Milestones In Child Development | Social and Emotional
By the age of 4, your child has much better gross motor skills. They can kick and throw balls. They can move forward and backward easily, as well as hop or stand on one foot.

Milestones in Hand and Finger Skills

Put a pen or crayon in your child’s hands and they can copy square shapes, draw circles and squares, and draw a person with two to four body parts. Your child can use scissors too.

Language Development Milestones

Your child can speak in sentences of five to six words and say words clearly enough for strangers to understand. They have mastered basic grammar and understand the concept of “same” and “different.” Your baby may even tell stories by now.

Cognitive Development Milestones

Your baby can name some colors. They also understand counting and may know a few numbers. They follow three-part instructions and recall parts of a story. Fantasy play is normal at this time.

Social and Emotional Milestones

Children become interested in new experiences at this time. They often play “mom” or “dad.” They can dress and undress by themselves. At this age, they are more independent.

Developmental Milestones Health Watch

Contact your pediatrician if your child:

  • Cannot throw a ball overhand
  • Cannot hop in place
  • Has difficulty scribbling
  • Still cries when you leave
  • Shows no interest in interactive games
  • Ignores other children and people outside the family
  • Cannot copy a circle
  • Uses sentences containing three words or less

Developmental Milestones at 5 Years

A 5-year-old can hop, swing, climb, do somersaults, and stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds. Your child may even be able to skip.

Milestones in Hand and Finger Skills

Your child can now copy geometric patterns and draw people with bodies. They can print some letters, dress by themselves, and use the toilet independently. Your baby can now use a fork, spoon, and sometimes a table knife.

Language Development Milestones

Your child can now speak sentences of more than five words. They can recall parts of a story and tell longer ones. They may also know their name and address by now.

Cognitive Development Milestones

At this age, kids can count to ten or more and correctly name at least four colors. They can understand the concept of time, money, food, and other everyday occurrences.

Social and Emotional Milestones

By this age, your child wants to be like their friends. They probably like to sing, dance, and act. Your child shows more independence. Their personality may be overly cooperative at some times and demanding at others.

Developmental Milestones Health Watch

Make an appointment with your pediatrician if you notice your child:

  • Seems extremely fearful, timid, or aggressive
  • Protests too much when you leave
  • Has trouble concentrating for more than five minutes
  • Is reluctant to play with other children
  • Seems unhappy or sad most of the time
  • Has trouble eating, sleeping, or using the toilet
  • Cannot correctly give their name or address
  • Cannot build a tower of six to eight blocks
  • Seems uncomfortable holding a crayon
  • Has trouble dressing and undressing
  • Cannot brush his/her teeth or wash their hands

Terrible twos can be, well, terrible. Here are some tips on how to cope with parenting while celebrating their milestones in child development. Watch this video from Health Science Channel:


The guide above should give you an idea of what milestones in child development to look forward to. Keep in mind, though, a child’s growth may not follow the same path. Every child reaches these milestones at slightly different times. Nevertheless, if the delays are significant, it may be best to contact your pediatrician or speak with a child development specialist as soon as possible.

What milestones in child development are your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below!

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