Children’s growth and development has been analyzed through study and research for decades. Their predicted growth and development have been separated into several milestones to define what the ‘average’ development should look like for a young child. The particular developmental milestones include communication, motor skills, vision, and coordination.

Some children may reach these milestones later or earlier than others, which is normal. However, if your child has difficulty reaching appropriate milestones by the typical age, you should begin to pay close attention to their development moving forward. The most important changes that occur during child development consist of intellectual, physical, social and emotional.

Developmental Milestones Include:

Intellectual: speaking, learning to read, recognizing pictures, colors, shapes etc.

Social/Emotional: recognizes physical appearance, recognizes family, is able to form opinions, able to understand the difference between right and wrong.

Physical/movement: crawling, walking, running, standing on tiptoes, kicking/throwing a ball

Some children will reach these milestones before or after the expected age, but most will be within the normal range.

Intellectual Development Milestones

We have listed below the ages which you should expect your child to develop specific intellectual milestones. Following each age and milestone group is a test which you can conduct with your child to observe his/her development.

Children: 3-5 months old

A normal childhood development suggests your baby should:

  • Recognize and react to the sound of your voice
  • Follow objects with his or her eyes
  • Mimic expressions from others
  • Engage in some forms of play with parents

Test: Stick your tongue out and see if your child follows suit

Children: 6-8 months old

  • Have a few big emotional displays/facial expressions (crying, smiles, giggles, etc.)
  • Begin making vowel and some consonant sounds
  • Babble and interact with others
  • Responds to auditory stimuli with auditory responses

Test: Engage verbally with your child and observe his/her verbal response

Children 9-11 months old

  • Engage in back and forth interactions and expressions (sounds, smiles, etc).
  • Play peek-a-boo
  • Engage with environment in predictable ways (has favorite toy, is clingy toward parents, is afraid of strangers, etc.)
  • Watch objects as they fall

Test: Drop an object, i.e. a ball, and see if s/he follow the object with his/her eyes

Children: 12-14 months old

  • Interact with environment – waving, pointing, etc.
  • Respond to stimuli in robust ways — reaching for things, grabbing, babbling, etc.
  • Make discernable words

Test: Hold inanimate objects in front of your child and observe his/her reaction

Note: A lot of development occurs between 12 – 18 months. Your baby should start to develop a personality — i.e. crying when mom or dad leaves the room, laughing at some interactions, showing preference for parents/caregivers in presence of strangers. Pulls self to stand. (Test: Watch their reaction when you leave or enter the room; there should be notable difference in their countenance.

Children: 15-17 months old

  • Speak a few words or close approximations of words (mama, dada, etc.).
  • Be capable of basic pretend play (feeding a doll, etc.)
  • Understand no, as well as some other basic commands.

Test: Speak affirming and negative words and observe his/her reaction

Children: 18-23 months old 

  • Speak at least 5-10 words
  • Recognize basic objects
  • Point to objects in their environment
  • Understands yes and no
  • Expand vocabulary
  • Show preference for caregivers and parents

Test: Ask your child to point to your significant others and observe his/her reaction

Children: 24 months+ 

  • Make meaningful, original phrases such as, “more water”
  • Turn book pages independently

Test: Engage your child in a conversation, asking simple questions, such as, “What’s your favorite color?” or “How old are you?”

Recognizing developmental delay signs of Cerebral Palsy

It is critically important for parents to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of CP. Although most children are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy by 18 months of age, parents may wrongfully consider their child’s developmental delays to be normal when they are not.

The most recognizable signs of CP include:

  • Trouble moving eyes
  • Muscle spasms or stiffness
  • Poor muscle control
  • Feeding or swallowing difficulties
  • Low muscle tone
  • Unable to hold head up
  • Not walking by 12-18 months old
  • Prefers to use one side of the body
  • Extreme delayed developments

Location of Movement Problems

The location of your child’s mobility issues is extremely important in diagnosing their CP type, and severity. There are four types of Cerebal Palsy, accommodated by six categories describing the location of movement problems. These categories are:

  • Monoplegia: Impairment in one particular limb or part of the body
  • Diplegia: paralysis in four limbs, with the legs being more affected than the arms
  • Hemiplegia: One side of the body is completely paralyzed
  • Triplegia: Three limbs, or parts of the body are paralyzed; most commonly both arms and a leg
  • Quadriplegia: All four limbs are paralyzed
  • Double Hemiplegia: paralysis in four limbs, with the arms being more affected than the legs

What if my child does not reach these milestones?

If your child shows signs of development issues, your doctor will want to run some tests to determine the cause for the delay. Health care professionals will often use developmental screening in order to discover if the child is not proactively learning the basic skills they should, or if there are further intellectual issues involved.

What is Developmental Screening?

Developmental screening is completed by a doctor, parent or caregiver in order to determine if a child has developmental delays. During the test, the conductor will measure the way your child speaks, learns, moves and behaves for their age. If after the test, your doctor discovers unusual developmental delays, they will refer you to a specialist who is trained to help your child with their specific setback(s).

At-Home Assessment 

Take our milestone quiz to see if your child is on track with their developmental progress.

1) Mayo Clinic,
2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

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