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Developmental Milestones

Updated on December 23, 2012

Since birth, the following five years of the life of a child is of great significance. The rate of their mental and physical development is so high that it is beyond our normal comprehension to be able to conceive such a drastic rate of development. Therefore, great stress is laid by the child experts upon taking particular care of the child’s mental and physical developments during these vital years of the child’s life because the future of the child is highly dependent upon this period, the initial five years after birth. It is highly recommended for parents that they should consult their family pediatrician very often for the nutritional status of their child during this crucial time of development.

It is very commonly observed that parents consult a pediatrician only when their child is ill and not consult them regularly. For this purpose developed countries have “well baby clinics” where a child is assessed not only for his/her nutritional status, but also for his/her balanced diet, vaccination and behavioral changes, hence the parents are advised accordingly.



Soon after birth, healthy new born babies tilt their heads to one side when they are laid down. They grasp the finger if it is given in their hands, which is called Palmar Grasp Reflex. Their hands are always clenched, elbows are flexed and they give spontaneous smiles. If anything is given in their mouth, they start sucking it. New born babies give startled reactions to sudden loud noises. They are asleep most of the time.


Infants of three months usually lift their head and chest above the surface over which they are laying using forearms as their support in prone position. At this age child starts to recognize his/her mother and few close associations. The child quiets to the sound of rattle, and smiles at pleasurable social contact.


Infants at this age are able to sit with support and can roll over from prone to supine and supine to prone position. These babies take everything in their mouth, and reach to objects with one hand. They show friendly behavior with strangers and vocalize in single or double syllables example; “guu”, “duh”, “aah”.


These babies can sit without any support. They can reach out for toys in which are in front of them. They are able to crawl as well as stand with support but they fall with a bump. The baby usually drops objects and lolls at fallen objects. The baby is imitates clapping and is able to respond to simple orders such as “No”, “Come here”, “Give it to me”. The baby babbles such as; “ba-ba”, “da-da”.


These babies walk with one hand held and can also walk by holding on to some support such as the furniture. One year-old child usually points to desired objects. The child also drinks from a cup or a mug with little help and also needs little help while dressing such as holding out the arm. The child can hold two separate objects separately. The child pays attention when his/her name is called. The child carries out very simple commands successfully, example “come to mama!”, “start clapping!” Excessive saliva production is also reduced.


A child of two years is fully capable of running, maintaining his/her balance and stopping precisely at will. They can climb stairs with one of their hands being held. The child can open doors and cabinets can also kick balls on request. They can also hold a pencil and scribble with it. They can turn pages of a book and often ask the names of various objects. Children belonging to this age group normally join 2-3 words to form a semi-constructed sentence. The child also refers himself/herself by his/her own name. They can verbalize to their toilet needs.


The child at this age is able to learn and then tell his/her name, age and gender. He/she is also able to kick a ball. These children can climb stairs easily and without any support, and can also jump from the last stair step. A three year-old child can walk on tip toe. The child washes his/her hands by own self. The child is also capable of standing on one foot. The child can ride a tricycle. At this age the child begins to show signs of mental intellect. He/she is able to count up to 10 and can also sing nursery rhymes. The child can build a tower of 0-10 cubes. These children are also toilet trained and do not wet their sleeping place at night.


Children from this age group are able to move downstairs with alternating steps and can also climb trees. They can draw pictures of a man with a head, trunk and legs. He/she is can use scissors to cut out pictures. The child needs companionship of other children which marks the beginning of social interaction of the child. The child is also well-trained enough to tell his/her full name, address and age. The child gets to learn the days of the week. He/she is also able to count to 20 and tell different stories. The children are also able to brush their teeth and dress and undress independently.


These children are disciplined enough to walk in a straight line. An enhancement in speaking skills, grammar and speed of speaking is also observed. They can also hop on one foot. They gain increased expertise in games. They also tend to dance on the tunes of music. They can hold anything with a very firm grip. They also gain particular expertise in handwriting and drawing. The child can count on his/her fingers. They are also aware of the 4 basic colors and their names and are also able to recognize 8-12 more colors. The child sings poems with pleasure. They are more affectionate towards younger siblings. They can draw basic shapes such as; square and triangle. They talk particular interest in listening stories and ask more questions about them.

It is important to keep in mind that not all the given milestones are fully manifested at the expected time, as there may be slight variations as to when these milestones may occur. Variations mean that these developmental milestones may occur earlier or later than their expected time depending upon the nutritional status of the child. But these given milestones may be considered to monitor a child’s ideal developmental process.


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