For grownups who care about kids
Parents, child care providers, grandparents, educators and other caregivers.

Child development

During the first three years

Do you have concerns about your child or a child you know? Parents often wonder if their child is learning and growing the way they should be. The following offers information about how most children grow and develop. It will help you mark milestones in your child’s development and understand what to expect next.

Development stages

By age 3 months most children…

Cry when uncomfortable or annoyed, lift head and chest while lying on stomach, make vowel sounds such as “eh,” “ah,” “uh” when talked to, grasp objects placed in hand and follow a moving person or object with their eyes.

By age 6 months most children…

Begin to play peek-a-boo and patty cake, sit with minimal support, respond to a smile with a gurgle, coo or smile, roll from back to stomach, and reach for and grasp objects and bring them to their mouth.

By 9 months most children…

Transfer objects from hand to hand, crawl on hands and knees, sit without support, briefly search for an object when it falls or disappears, repeat sounds made by others, smile, and reach out or turn toward the speaker when they hear their name.

By 12 months most children…

Say “mama” or “dada”, pull to a standing position and walk with assistance, drink from a cup that is held for them, and grasp bits of food and small objects with their thumb and first two fingers.

By 15 months most children…

Walk without support, say a few words in addition to “mama” or “dada”, move arms and legs to assist in dressing, wave bye bye, communicate by gesturing and pointing, finger feed self and begin using a spoon.

By 18 months most children…

Drink from a cup held in both hands, bring familiar objects from another room when asked, scribble with a crayon, point to eyes, nose and toes, take things apart, say at least 6 words, build towers of 3-4 blocks and climb.

By 2 years most children…

Push and pull wheeled toys, combine two or three words such as “more juice,” run, demonstrate independence by saying “no” and showing a temper, kick a large ball, point to familiar pictures in a book and turn pages in a book (2-3 at a time).

By 3 years most children…

Speak in short sentences, enjoy listening to story books, verbalize toilet needs, walk upstairs holding a railing, begin to play with other children, enjoy helping adults, dress self with minimal help and match primary colors.

For more detailed information, see the CDC’s list of Developmental Milestones.