Developmental Milestones: A Guide for Families

Your child is going through many physical and mental changes. Although no two children grow at the same rate, experts agree there are ‘typical” signs of development. This checklist will provide you with some milestones birth to 3 years of age. It is a simple tool you can use to become aware of and appreciate the changes that are occurring in your child.

You are the most important observer of your child’s development. If your child has special needs, early help can make all the difference.

By end of 7 months, many children are able to:

  • Turn head when name is called
  • Smile back at another person
  • Respond to sound with sounds

By the end of 1 year (12 months), many children are able to:

  • Use simple gestures (waving “bye-bye”)
  • Make sounds such as “ma” and “da”
  • Imitate actions in their play (clap when you clap)
  • Respond when told “no”

By the end of 1.5 years (18 months), many children are able to:

  • Do simple pretend play (“talk” on a toy phone)
  • Point to interesting objects
  • Look at object when you point at it and tell them to “look!”
  • Use several single words unprompted

By end of 2 years (24 months), many children are able to:

  • Use 2 – to 4-word phrases
  • Follow simple instructions
  • Become more interested in other children
  • Point to object or picture when named

By the end of 3 years (36 months), many children are able to:

  • Show affection for playmates
  • Use 4-5 word sentences
  • Imitate adults and playmates (run when other children run)
  • Play make-believe with dolls, animals and people (“feed” a teddy bear)

If you have questions about your child’s development or want to have your child tested,

  • Call your pediatrician
  • Early intervention system


Early intervention is a system of supports and services provided to children birth to three years of age who have developmental delays and/or some specific medically diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay. The goal of Early Intervention is to help your family meet the developmental and health-related needs of your child. Determination of a child’s Early Intervention services is based on the individual needs of your child, the primary concerns expressed by your family and your family’s resources.

If your child is eligible, under Part C of the Federal Law – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) your family is entitled to receive at no cost:

  • Evaluation and Assessment
  • Service Coordination
  • Procedural Safeguards
  • Writing of an Individual Family Service Plan


During an evaluation, the Early Intervention team will gather information about your child to answer specific questions about your child’s development. An Early Intervention evaluation will explain how your child is functioning as compared to other children of his/her age. The evaluation will give you and the Early Intervention team lots of information about your child’s development and help to decide if there is a need for ongoing Early Intervention services.

  • Gross Motor Skills – Large body movements such as crawling, walking and jumping
  • Fine Motor Skills – Small body movements such as using one’s hands to hold a rattle or spoon or doing a puzzle.
  • Communication, speech and language – Understanding what is said, following directions and making needs known.
  • Sensory – Receiving and using information through touch, hearing and sight.
  • Social and Emotional Development – Interaction with other children, adults and the environment.
  • Cognitive – Thinking and learning.
  • Adaptive, self-help skills – Ability to perform daily living skills appropriate to the child’s age such as feed themselves.

The Early Intervention evaluation gives a picture of your child’s developmental functioning at a point in time. It is important to remember that the evaluation should be viewed as a snapshot of your child’s current areas of strength and possible developmental needs.