Developmental Checklists Birth to 18

1 – 3 Months

Movement

  • Raises head and cheek when lying on stomach (3 months)
  • Supports upper body with arms when lying on stomach (3 months)
  • Stretches legs out when lying on stomach or back (2-3 months)
  • Opens and shuts hands (2-3 months)
  • Pushes down on legs when his feet are placed on firm surface (3 months)

Visual

  • Watches face intently (2-3 months)
  • Follows moving objects (2 months)
  • Recognizes familiar objects and people at a distance (3 months)
  • Starts using hands and eyes in coordination (3 months)

Hearing and Speech

  • Smiles at the sound of voice (2-3 months)
  • Cooing noises; vocal play (begins at 3 months)
  • Attends to sound (1-3 months)
  • Startles to loud noise (1-3 months)

Social/Emotional

  • Begins to develop a social smile (1-3 months)
  • Enjoys playing with other people and may cry when playing stops (2-3 months)
  • Becomes more communicative and expressive with face and body (2-3 months)
  • Imitates some movements and facial expressions

Developmental Red Flags (1-3 months)

  • Doesn’t seem to respond to loud noises
  • Doesn’t follow moving objects with eyes by 2-3 months
  • Doesn’t smile at the sound of your voice by 2 months
  • Doesn’t grasp and hold objects by 3 months
  • Doesn’t smile at people by 3 months
  • Cannot support head well at 3 months
  • Doesn’t reach for and grasp toys by 3-4 months
  • Doesn’t bring objects to mouth by 4 months
  • Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a firm surface by 4 months
  • Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions
  • Crosses eyes most of the time (occasional crossing of the eyes is normal in these first months)

4 – 7 Months

Movement

  • Pushes up on extended arms (5 months)
  • Pulls to sitting with no head lag (5 months)
  • Sits with support of his hands (5-6 months)
  • Sits unsupported for short periods (6-8 months)
  • Supports whole weight on legs (6-7 months)
  • Grasps feet (6 months)
  • Transfers objects from hand to hand (6-7 months)
  • Uses raking grasp (not pincer) (6 months)

Visual

  • Looks for toy beyond tracking range (5-6 months)
  • Tracks moving objects with ease (4-7 months)
  • Grasps objects dangling in front of him (5-6 months)
  • Looks for fallen toys (5-7 months)

Language

  • Distinguishes emotions by tone of voice (4-7 months)
  • Responds to sound by making sounds (4-6 months)
  • Uses voice to express joy and displeasure (4-6 months)
  • Syllable repetition begins (5-7 months)

Cognitive

  • Finds partially hidden objects (6-7 months)
  • Explores with hands and mouth (4-7 months)
  • Struggles to get objects that are out of reach (5-7 months)

Social Emotional

  • Enjoys social play (4-7 months)
  • Interested in mirror images (5-7 months)
  • Responds to other people’s expression of emotion (4-7 months)

Developmental Red Flags (4-7 months)

  • Seems very stiff, tight muscles
  • Seems very floppy, like a rag doll
  • Head still flops back when body is pulled to sitting position (by 5 months still exhibits head lag)
  • Shows no affection for the person who cares for them
  • Doesn’t seem to enjoy being around people
  • One or both eyes consistently turn in or out
  • Persistent tearing, eye drainage, or sensitivity to light
  • Does not respond to sounds around them
  • Has difficulty getting objects to mouth
  • Does not turn head to locate sounds by 4 months
  • Doesn’t roll over (stomach to back) by 6 months
  • Cannot sit with help by 6 months (not by themselves)
  • Does not laugh or make squealing sound by 5 months
  • Does not actively reach for objects by 6 months
  • Does not follow objects with both eyes
  • Does not bear some weight on legs by 5 months

8 – 12 Months

Movement

  • Gets to sitting position without assistance (8-10 months)
  • Crawls forward on belly
  • Assumes hand and knee position
  • Creeps on hands and knees
  • Gets from sitting to crawling or prone (lying on stomach) position (10-12 months)
  • Pulls self up to standing position
  • Walks holding on to furniture
  • Stands momentarily without support
  • May walk two or three steps without support

Hand and Finger Skills

  • Uses pincer grasp (grasp using thumb and index finger) (7-10 months)
  • Bangs two one-inch cubes together
  • Puts objects into container (10-12 months)
  • Takes objects out of container (10-12 months)
  • Pokes with index finger
  • Tries to imitate scribbling

Cognitive

  • Explores objects in many different ways (shaking, banging, throwing, dropping) (8-10 months)
  • Finds hidden objects easily (10-12 months)
  • Looks at correct picture when image is named
  • Imitates gestures (9-12 months)

Language Milestones

  • Responds to simple verbal requests
  • Responds to “no”
  • Makes simple gestures such as shaking head for “no”
  • Babbles with inflection (8-10 months)
  • Babbles “dada” and “mama” (8-10 months)
  • Says “dada” and “mama” for specific person (11-12 months)
  • Uses exclamations such as “oh-oh”

Social/Emotional

  • Shy or anxious with strangers (8-12 months)
  • Cries when mother or father leaves (8-12 months)
  • Enjoys imitating people in play (10-12 months)
  • Shows specific preferences for certain people and toys (8-12 months)
  • Prefers mother and/or regular care provider over all others (8-12 months)
  • Repeats sounds or gestures for attention (10-12 months)
  • Finger-feeds himself (8-12 months)
  • Extends arm or leg to help when being dressed

Developmental Red Flags (8-12 months)

  • Does not crawl
  • Drags one side of body while crawling (for more than one month)
  • Cannot stand when supported
  • Does not search for objects that are hidden (10-12 months)
  • Says no single words (“mama” or “dada”)
  • Does not learn to use gestures such as waving or shaking head
  • Does not sit steadily by 10 months
  • Does not show interest in “peek-a-boo” or “patty cake” by 8 months
  • Does not babble by 8 months (“dada,” “baba,” “mama”)

12-24 Months

Movement

  • Walks alone (12-16 months)
  • Pulls toys behind him while walking (13-16 months)
  • Carries large toy or several toys while walking (12-15 months)
  • Begins to run stiffly (16-18 months)
  • Climbs onto and down from furniture unsupported (16-24 months)
  • Walks up and down stairs holding on to support (18-24 months)

Hand and Finger Skills

  • Scribbles spontaneously (14-16 months)
  • Turns over container to pour out contents (12-18 months)
  • Builds tower of four blocks or more (20-24 months)

Language

  • Points to object or picture when it’s named for them (18-24 months)
  • Recognizes names of familiar people, objects and body parts (18-24 months)
  • Says several single words (15-18 months)
  • Uses two-word sentences (18-24 months)
  • Follows simple, one-step instructions (14-18 months)
  • Repeats words overheard in conversations (16-18 months)

Cognitive

  • Finds objects even when hidden under two or three covers
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors (20-24 months)
  • Begins make-believe play (20-24 months)

Social

  • Imitates behavior of others, especially adults and older children (18-24 months)
  • Increasingly enthusiastic about company or other children (20-24 months)
  • Demonstrates increasing independence (18-24 months)
  • Begins to show defiant behavior (18-24 months)
  • Episodes of separation anxiety increase toward midyear, then fade

Developmental Red Flags (12 to 24 months)

  • Cannot walk by 18 months
  • Fails to develop a mature heel-toe walking pattern after several months of walking, or walks exclusively on toes
  • Does not speak at least 15 words by 18 months
  • Does not use two-word sentences by age 2
  • By 15 months, does not seem to know the function of common household objects (brush, telephone, bell, fork, spoon)
  • Does not imitate actions or words by 24 months
  • Does not follow simple one-step instructions by 24 months

24-36 Months

Movement

  • Climbs well (24-30 months)
  • Walks down stairs alone, placing both feet on each step (26-28 months)
  • Walks up stairs alternating feet with support (24-30 months)
  • Swings leg to kick ball (24-30 months)
  • Runs easily (24-26 months)
  • Pedals tricycle (30-36 months)
  • Bends over easily without falling (24-30 months)

Hand and Finger Skills

  • Make vertical, horizontal, circular strokes with pencil or crayon (30-36 months)
  • Turns book pages one at a time (24-30 months)
  • Builds a tower of more than six blocks (24-30 months)
  • Holds a pencil in writing position (30-36 months)
  • Screws and unscrews jar lids, nuts and bolts (24-30 months)
  • Turns rotating handles (24-30 months)

Language

  • Recognizes and identifies almost all common objects and pictures (26-32 months)
  • Understands most sentences (24-40 months)
  • Understands physical relationships (on, in, under) (30-36 months)
  • Can say name, age and sex (30-36 months)
  • Uses pronouns (I, you, me, we, they) (24-30 months)
  • Strangers can understand most of words (30-36 months)

Cognitive

  • Makes mechanical toys work (30-36 months)
  • Matches an object in hand or room to a picture in a book (24-30 months)
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals and people (24-36 months)
  • Sorts objects by color (30-36 months)
  • Completes puzzles with three or four pieces (24-36 months)
  • Understands concept of “two” (26-32 months)

Social/Emotional

  • Separates easily from parents (by 36 months)
  • Expresses a wide range of emotions (24-36 months)
  • Objects to major changes in routine (24-36 months)

Developmental Red Flags (24-36 months)

  • Frequent falling and difficulty with stairs
  • Persistent drooling or very unclear speech
  • Inability to build a tower of more than 4 blocks
  • Difficulty manipulating small objects
  • Inability to copy a circle by 3 years old
  • Inability to communicate in short phrases
  • No involvement in pretend play
  • Failure to understand simple instructions
  • Little interest in other children
  • Extreme difficulty separating from primary caregiver

3-4 Years

Movement

  • Hops and stands on one foot up to 5 seconds
  • Goes upstairs and downstairs without support
  • Kicks ball forward
  • Throws ball overhand
  • Catches bounced ball most of the time
  • Moves forward and backward
  • Uses riding toys

Hand and Finger Skills

  • Copies square shapes
  • Draws a person with two to four body parts
  • Uses scissors
  • Draws circles and squares
  • Begins to copy some capital letters
  • Can feed self with spoon

Language Milestones

  • Understand the concepts of “same” and “different”
  • Has mastered some basic rules of grammar
  • Speaks in sentences of five to six words
  • Asks questions
  • Speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand
  • Tells stories

Cognitive Milestones

  • Correctly names some colors
  • Understands the concept of counting and may know a few numbers
  • Begins to have a clearer sense of time
  • Follows three-part commands
  • Recalls parts of a story
  • Understands the concept of same/different
  • Engages in fantasy play
  • Understands causality (“I can make things happen”)

Social Milestones

  • Interested in new experiences
  • Cooperates/plays with other children
  • Plays “mom” or “dad”
  • More inventive in fantasy play
  • Dresses and undresses
  • More independent

Emotional Milestones

  • Often cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality
  • May have imaginary friends or see monsters

Developmental Red Flags (3-4 years)

  • Cannot jump in place
  • Cannot ride a trike
  • Cannot grasp a crayon between thumb and fingers
  • Has difficulty scribbling
  • Cannot copy a circle
  • Cannot stack four blocks
  • Still clings or cries when parents leave him
  • Shows no interest in interactive games
  • Ignores other children
  • Doesn’t respond to people outside the family Doesn’t engage in fantasy play
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, using the toilet
  • Lashes out without any self-control when angry or upset
  • Doesn’t use sentences of more than three words
  • Doesn’t use “me” or “you” appropriately

4 – 5 Years

Movement

  • Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
  • Hops, somersaults
  • Swings, climbs
  • May be able to skip

Milestones in Hand and Finger Skills

  • Copies triangle and other geometric patterns
  • Draws person with body
  • Prints some letters
  • Dresses and undresses without assistance
  • Uses fork, spoon
  • Usually cares for own toilet needs

Language Milestones

  • Recalls parts of a story
  • Speaks sentences of more than five words
  • Uses future tense
  • Tells longer stories
  • Says name and address

Cognitive Milestones

  • Can count 10 or more objects
  • Correctly names at least four colors
  • Better understands the concept of time
  • Knows about things used every day in the home (money, food, etc.)

Social Milestones

  • Wants to please and be with friends
  • More likely to agree to rules
  • Likes to sing, dance and act
  • Shows more independence

Developmental Red Flags (4-5 years)

  • Exhibits extremely aggressive, fearful or timid behavior
  • Is unable to separate from parents
  • Is easily distracted and unable to concentrate on any single activity for more than five minutes
  • Shows little interest in playing with other children
  • Refuses to respond to people in general
  • Rarely uses fantasy or imitation in play
  • Avoids or seems aloof with other children and adults
  • Doesn’t express a wide range of emotions
  • Has trouble eating, sleeping or using the toilet
  • Can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality
  • Seems unusually passive
  • Can’t understand two-part commands and prepositions (“put the cup on the table”; “get the ball under the couch”)
  • Can’t give his first and last name
  • Doesn’t use plurals or past tense
  • Cannot build a tower of six to eight blocks
  • Stages of Child Development
  • Seems uncomfortable holding a crayon
  • Has trouble taking off clothing
  • Can’t brush teeth or wash and dry hands

Stages of Child Development

Age Physical Milestones Emotional/Social Milestones Intellectual Milestones
6 – 12 years
  • Enjoys using new skills, both gross and fine motor
  • Likes to achieve in sports
  • Is energetic and tends to have an increased appetite
  • Is increasing in height and weight at a steady rate
  • Increased coordination and strength
  • Developing body proportions similar to adult
  • Is developing a more defined personality
  • Acts very independent and self- assured, but at times is childish and silly
  • Enjoys working/playing with others and alone
  • Defines self-concept in part by success at school
  • Plays almost exclusively with same sex
  • Begins to experience conflicts between parents’ values and those of peers
  • Has a strong sense of fair play
  • Believes that rules are important and must be followed
  • Likes affection from adults; wants them to be there to help
  • Is able to assume responsibility for self and may care for younger siblings
  • Enjoys projects that are task-oriented like sewing, cooking, woodwork
  • Is very verbal, enjoys jokes and puns that use language creatively
  • Asks questions that are fact-oriented; wants to know how, why and when
  • Likes to make up stories, plays and puppet shows
  • Is able to deal with abstract ideas
  • Judges own success on ability to learn to read, write, and do arithmetic
Age Physical Milestones Emotional/Social Milestones Intellectual Milestones
12 – 18 years
  • Experiencing a dramatic growth spurt; generally boys between 12 and 14 and girls between 10 and 12
  • Anxious about physical changes and may worry if their look is not “ideal”
  • Achieves sexual maturity and experiences increased sexual drives
  • Needs help in dealing with changes taking place in order to retain a strong sense of identity and values
  • Is likely to show extreme mood swings; often doesn’t know how to express anger
  • Enjoys social activities at school
  • Relies heavily on peers; struggles to be independent of parents
  • Tries to conform to group norms
  • Has close friendships and emotional involvements
  • Is concerned with meaningful interpersonal relationships and is developing personal moral code
  • Seeks emotional alliances outside family; is less dependent on family for affection and emotional support
  • Experiences conflicts with parents on expectations, e.g. for achievements
  • Strives to define self as separate individual and may adopt extreme hairstyles, clothes, destructive behavior
  • Often feels misunderstood by parents
  • Shows increased (or decreased) interest in school and academic studies
  • Achieves significant changes in cognitive development
  • Is able to reason, to generate hypotheses, and to test them against evidence
  • Begins to consider (and sometimes make) vocational choices
  • Is interested in making money and may take part-time jobs

Drew, K., Salus, M., and Dodge, D. (1981). Child Protective Services Inservice Training for Supervisors and Social Workers, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Continue to Self-Esteem