What are the Key Developmental Milestones in Babies?

Have you ever asked yourself: at what age do babies crawl? And, at what age can a baby stand on his/her own? If you have, then you will find our latest blog on key development milestones a real treat.

Today we’re looking at behaviours and physical skills that present themselves as babies grow and develop.

Did you know that it takes just 12 short months for your baby to go from one stage to the next; to go from newborn to toddler. That’s not a lot of time when you stop and think about it.

Every month in your child’s development brings something new, but understanding what’s changed can be difficult when you don’t know what to look out for exactly. This is where key developmental milestones come into play.

That said, we should point out that not every baby develops at the same pace; a fact that you need to keep in mind as you read through this post.

Shall we get started?

What are Key Developmental Milestones?

Developmental milestones are behaviours or skills that showcase a baby/child’s growth in multiple different areas. Each of these milestones has been established based on what is possible at a certain age.

When a baby smiles for the first time, when they walk for the first time, and when they utter their first words are all examples of the behaviours/skills that are monitored under these milestones.

“The path of development is a journey of discovery that is clear only in retrospect, and it’s rarely a straight line.”
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, author of ‘Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential’

Again, do keep in mind that not every baby will develop at the exact same pace as suggested. A baby that can’t crawl at the seven-month mark might be able to do so at a later stage. For parents and guardians, it’s all about being patient and letting your little one grow at their own speed.

You probably already understood all that from our introduction, but we just wanted to go over the definition one more time before going over the different stages of growth and development.

baby playing with multicoloured toy

Five Different Types of Baby Development Milestones

Before we get into baby development milestones, we should talk about the five ways to categorise these milestones. Categorising these milestones makes them a lot easier to track, not to mention, understand them if you’re a parent or guardian.

Here are the five different types in question:

  • Cognitive development: How your baby thinks and reasons with things.
  • Physical growth and development: How your baby grows and develops into a toddler.
  • Language development: How your baby communicates with you and other things around them.
  • Emotional and social development: How your baby feels and interacts with others.
  • Sensory and motor development: How your child moves around the world and interacts with objects.

Remember that some of the actions or behaviours under each of these types can cross over into another. For example, a baby capable of gripping objects with their hands is an example of both physical growth and sensory and motor development.

Baby Development Milestones

We’ve split this section into multiple different age groups to help emphasise the transition from baby to toddler. Doing so should give you a better idea of what your little one should/shouldn’t be capable of as they grow right down to the month.

We’ve also split the behaviours/skills into two unique categories. Both are key types of baby milestone development; as you’ll know from the previous section, these include:

  • Physical growth and development
  • Language development

This is to help you understand which are geared more towards the motor development of your child, and which lean more towards social skills; two very important areas when it comes to the growth and development of your baby.

Let’s begin with babies that are around two months old or so.

A closeup of baby feet wrapped in a towel

Two Months

During this early development stage, babies’ bodies and brains are still learning to live in the outside world. They won’t be able to do a lot at this stage, but you don’t need us to tell you that surely.

At around two months, expect your baby to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Follows an object or person with both eyes with ease
  • While on his/her tummy, the baby can turn their head to the side
  • Can briefly hold a toy when placing it in their hand
  • While on his/her back, the baby can wave its arms and legs

Language Development

  • Can smile when spoken to directly
  • Be able to make certain noises such as ‘gah’ or ‘ooo’
  • Can make sounds back to you when talking to them
  • Turns to hear specific voices that they hear
  • Eye-to-eye contact is maintained on purpose

Four Months

During this stage of their growth and development, your baby will begin to learn how to use their hands more when picking up and playing with toys.

At around four months, expect your baby to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • While on his/her tummy, the baby can hold their head up straight and look around
  • While in a seating position, the baby can hold their head steady and without support
  • While in a sitting position baby should reach for a toy nearby
  • While on his/her back, the baby can bring their hands together over the chest
  • With a toy in hand, the baby should shake it, chew it, and look at it

Language Development

  • Baby can recognise themselves in the mirror and make noises to themselves
  • While being away from them, the baby will smile or get excited at you being there
  • Be able to chuckle softly and/or be able to laugh
  • Baby can make high-pitched noises generally, and when looking at people/toys

A baby smiling while being lifted in the air

Six Months

At six months is when your baby will start using their voice a lot more to create a variety of, let’s say, interesting sounds.

At around six months, expect your baby to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Baby can roll from their back and onto their tummy without assistance
  • Can pass a toy from one hand to the other without worry
  • Reach a small object using their finger and then pick it up using all fingers
  • The baby should be able to sit up with support
  • Can play with their feet when lying on their back
  • Baby can get into a crawling position on their front

Language Development

  • Can hold their hands up to get someone to lift them
  • Make certain sounds, such as ‘da’ and ga’
  • Baby likes to look at themselves in a mirror
  • Baby can squeal and laugh at things

Nine Months

At nine months, your little ones will begin to learn that rolling can get them places. Expect them to move around a lot more. This stage is where you might see your child crawl for the first time too.

At around nine months, expect your baby to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Can get into a sitting position from lying down
  • Begins crawling for the first time in small doses
  • The baby can sit upright without any support required
  • Can roll over both ways without any assistance
  • Will pull themselves up to stand and take the weight on their feet

Language Development

  • Can copy basic sounds themselves
  • The baby has a connection to a favourite toy
  • Has the ability to babble, making sounds like ‘mamma’
  • Baby will cooperate when asked things like ‘give it here’ and ‘put it back’
  • Baby is clingy to adults they sense familiar with

A baby leaning on a box and exploring

Twelve Months

Your baby is officially one, which means they aren’t an infant anymore. It’s here that they’ll begin to look and act more like a toddler. Still, they will continue to act like a baby in many ways.

At around twelve months old, expect your baby to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Can sit and get into seating positions alone
  • Baby can pull themselves up from sitting down and can sit down again
  • Baby can walk around on their own using furniture to support them
  • May be able to stand alone without assistance
  • Will help you turn the pages of a book when read to

Language Development

  • The baby can point at certain objects
  • When getting dressed will hold out its arms/legs to help
  • Can respond to their own name and understands it
  • Makes more coherent sounds than before

Child Development Milestones

While we’ve technically finished the portion of this post covering the key developmental milestones in babies, we thought it was necessary to keep going up to the age of five for anyone interested.

A one year old playing outside

Eighteen Months

You should be able to see signs of real growth at this stage compared to when your little one was a baby. At this stage, your child should be able to walk and walk well on their own.

At around eighteen months old, expect your child to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Is able to walk and walk well
  • Can turn the page of a book themselves
  • Can walk upstairs while holding the hand of an adult
  • Is able to stack blocks on top of each other without worry

Language Development

  • Can say several single words
  • Enjoys nursery rhymes and will try to join in
  • Recognises and points to different parts of the body
  • Obeys simple commands, such as ‘pass me your socks’

Two Years

At two, children are a lot more active physically. At this point, they should also start to show signs of early independence.

At around two years old, expect your child to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Is able to try and kick a ball
  • Can run pretty well and can jump with both feet coming off the floor
  • Is capable of holding a pencil using their thumb and first two fingers
  • String small items together using string, things like pasta and beads
  • Can drink from a cup without a lid on the top of it

Language Development

  • Enjoys pretending and role-playing
  • Can correctly use words like ‘I’ and ‘you’
  • Is able to name and know objects off by heart
  • Is able to put multiple words together in the same sentence

Children playing in a sandbox outside

Three Years

Three is when parents and guardians will see a much larger shift. Here children will showcase a range of additional skills. They will also begin to understand who they are a lot more.

At around three years old, expect your child to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Can catch a large ball on their own
  • Has the ability to climb walls
  • Is able to pedal on a tricycle
  • Will walk on tiptoes when prompted
  • Can walk upstairs with alternating feet

Language Development

  • Can say their own name, age, and sex
  • Pretend role-playing is a lot more vivid
  • Is able to count all the way up to 10
  • Can play with other children and take turns
  • Understands the meaning of ‘you’ and ‘I’

Four Years

At four, children tend to be a lot more vocal – even going so far as to sing nursery rhymes and ask more questions than usual. Identity-wise, they are slowly coming into their own.

At around four years old, expect your child to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Can hop and stand on one foot
  • Is able to throw, catch, and kick objects well
  • Use a fork and spoon well enough to eat
  • Can draw other people with recognisable body parts

Language Development

  • Enjoys listening to longer stories and can even tell their own
  • Asks a lot of questions to all kinds of people
  • Can sing multiple nursery rhymes
  • Shows sympathy to friends that are hurt or upset
  • Takes turns and shares with other children

3 toddlers playing on car mat

Five Years

Five years old is when children begin to really show their independence, they can talk clearly and show a lot more empathy for others. Physically, children at this age perform a lot more actions too.

At around five years old, expect your child to be able to do the following things:

Physical Growth and Development

  • Is able to hop, dance, and perform other physical feats
  • Can swing and climb objects independently
  • Slide down a slide and play on other things in the playground
  • Can dress and undress themselves without problems

Language Development

  • Speech is very clear to understand
  • Knows name, address, and how old they are
  • Likes listening and telling stories
  • Might have a best friend that they do most things with
  • Is a lot more imaginative

What are the Key Developmental Milestones in Babies

At this point, knowing what age babies crawl should be as easy as 1-2-3 if you’ve been following along. And that’s without mentioning all of the other key development milestones mentioned in this post!

Just remember that not every baby will develop at the same pace as others. Yes, they grow quickly, but some might take longer than others to do things like roll on their own, play with toys, or babble.

In other words, try to treat key development milestones as more of a rough outline instead of the full picture. That said if you feel like your child is taking longer to pick up certain things, talk to a paediatrician. Spotting these things early will only help your child with their growth and development.

“Becoming more aware of child development needs and risk factors can be a powerful motivation for promoting education, prevention, and recovery for ourselves as parents and our communities.”
Mike Weiford, author of ‘Navigating the Minefield, A Map of Effective Parenting’

Speaking of growth and development, have you considered childcare or nursery for your little ones?

At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we offer a complete level of care to children from 12 weeks old to five years of age. We also provide wraparound care for children up to 12 years old.

If you’d like to learn more about us and our indoor/outdoor facilities, book a free tour of the nursery today!

Key Development Milestones FAQs

What is the purpose of child development milestones?

Child development milestones are used to monitor the growth and development of your little ones. They provide a rough outline of the behaviours or skills of a baby/child at various stages as they continue growing.

At what age do babies crawl?

Babies are typically able to crawl between the seven to nine-month mark. While they might be able to get into a crawling position at an earlier stage, they usually can’t move around on their hands and knees until a later stage.

What are the five types of child development?

Milestones are usually categorised into five major areas, which are: physical growth, cognitive development, emotional and social development, language development, and sensory and motor development.

Nursery Age: When Can My Child Start?

When it comes to the right nursery age, lots of parents are confused.

It’s a question that almost every parent will consider, and every parent will have their opinion as to the right time for their child to start nursery.

It can also be a scary thought as you’re handing the responsibility of your child over to someone else, and in lots of cases, this person is a complete stranger.

During the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), it’s important your child’s needs are consistently met. Children’s experiences in their first five years have been shown to have a significant impact on their developmental outcomes in later life.

As such, finding a nursery who you trust with this responsibility is absolutely essential as you don’t want to be worrying about your child when you’re not physically present.

The longer you look after your child at home, the more difficult it can become to send them to nursery.

According to Acas, everyone is entitled to 26 weeks leave under the law after giving birth. However, after this point, it’s classed as ‘additional maternity leave’ and some of the terms and conditions can alter.

If you’re lucky, you might be able to save on childcare until your little one is 3 years old which means they’re only attending nursery for a year before starting Primary school. In some cases though, parents return to work much quicker, and children can start nursery from as young as 3 months old.

This begs the question, ‘what is the right nursery age for my child?’

Well, that’s a question we hope to answer in this blog post to give you greater confidence and reassurance in your decision.
baby playing with multicoloured toy

What are the options when it comes to Nursery Age?

Parents usually return to work within 12-18 months of having a child, although for dads, paternity leave tends to be much shorter.

In fact, according to Gov.uk, paternity leave is usually around 1-2 weeks; a very short amount of time in the grand scheme of things.

So, what are your options as a parent?

After exhausting the services of grandparents and other family members, day nurseries are the most popular form of childcare for children under 3.

Many parents decide to send their children to nursery when they are 2, as toddlers who are aged 2 and 3 qualify for free government funding.

However, if you find yourself needing to return to work before this time, what are your options? Well let’s find out…

Babies aged between 0-1

Some nurseries offer childcare from birth, however most nurseries offer childcare services from 3 months plus. (Just a side note- it usually means 6 weeks old onwards rather than literally ‘birth’)

If you need to send your child to nursery at this age, there are some vital checks that you need to carry out. After all, whilst every child needs to be looked after during EYFS, this is a particularly young age group meaning children will have greater needs.

Their level of independence at this stage is virtually non-existent so they will be entirely reliant on the care of nursery practitioners.

Therefore, it’s important to choose a nursery that has experience with newborns as this means they are better positioned to handle their needs. You should also ensure that they meet certain government standards, for example, there are recommended ratios for the amount of children to adults.

When it comes to babies aged between 0-2, it is one adult to every three babies.

Babies aged between 1-2

Around a third of children start nursery between the ages of 1 and 2. However, there is still some skepticism about whether or not this is too early which has led to a great deal of debate among parents.

There is an increasing amount of pressure for parents to return to work, which is why, often, they have no other option but to put their children in nursery.

There is some loose research that suggests putting your child in nursery too soon leads to problems with behaviour and aggression in later life.

However, this research often overlooks the benefits of entering children into nursery care at this age, including improved language skills and social development. Furthermore, much of the research is conflicting, and even some of the most respected figures in child development question the contradicting results.

When considering a nursery for your child of this age, take their personality into account. If your child is more extroverted and doesn’t struggle with confidence, then a larger nursery might be suitable.

However, if they are quite shy and introverted then consider a small daycare nursery as they will receive more attention. At The Hunny Pot nursery, we assign a key person to every child. This ensures that their needs are consistently met, and also guides them on their learning journey.
girl holding purple camera toy

Toddlers aged between 2-3

Most children start nursery between the ages of 2 and 3.

During this time, children are developing more awareness and are becoming more interested in other children. They are also curious about their environment and start making connections between different concepts.

This is also the age where they reach lots of key developmental milestones. For example, they’ll generally be able to eat independently with a fork or spoon, as well as say 2-4 key phrases.

These are all signs that your child is ready to start nursery as they are beginning to think more for themselves. From an academic point of view, sending your child to nursery at this age could benefit their long term academic development as they will be able to build on these core skills.

If your child is still nervous about going to nursery at this age, then it’s perfectly normal. Consider giving them a toy from home which they can take to nursery such as a teddy bear or comfort blanket. This will make the nursery environment feel more familiar, and will make them feel more relaxed.

Children aged 3 and over

Whilst most children start nursery before the age of 3, it doesn’t have to be the same for your child. If you’ve got enhanced maternity leave, or only work part time, then you might be able to look after your child for longer at home.

The reason lots of parents decide to send their child to nursery at the age of 3, is to help them get into a routine. When they start reception a year later, children will need to get used to being away from their parents for extended periods of time.

Therefore, sending them to nursery before school age will facilitate a smooth transition into primary school, and hopefully make the process less stressful.

What are the benefits of sending your child to nursery?

There are lots of benefits of sending your child to nursery, for both you as a parent, and your child.

Whilst this can be a daunting process, especially if your child is used to being with you at home, nursery can have a positive impact on their confidence and development.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the other benefits in more detail.

Helps with school readiness

By sending your child to nursery before they start primary school, it helps them settle into a better routine.

If they’ve been used to waking up at a flexible time, they might struggle when it comes to starting school as the hours are fixed.

Furthermore, going to nursery gives your child a sense of structure as there will be different times for things such as meals, naps, indoor, and outdoor activities. The school environment is very similar to this as there will be different times for certain lessons and activities which children will need to adapt to.

It also prepares children for separation anxiety, as if they’ve never been apart from you for a long period of time, they might find it challenging when they first start school. The school day usually falls between 9am-3pm which can feel very long if your child has never been to nursery before.

As such, sending your child to nursery before they start school is very beneficial, even if it is only for a year prior.
3 toddlers playing on car mat

Helps children develop social skills

As your child is going to be around other children in nursery, they will develop better social skills.

There will be ample opportunities for them to engage in group activities which will improve their confidence and communication skills as they work with other children to figure out different concepts.

Furthermore, they will learn how to communicate their feelings and opinions, as well as gaining a greater understanding of other peoples’ feelings. In turn, this leads to increased empathy as they understand how to react to different situations.

Aside from other children, they will also build a relationship with nursery practitioners and staff which is a core part of their development.

If children only ever come into contact with their parents or primary caregivers, they might struggle to communicate with other people.

Eases separation anxiety

As we’ve touched on above, attending nursery can help ease separation anxiety as children get more comfortable being away from their parents.

It’s totally natural for children to want to stay close to their parents or primary caregivers as this is where they feel most safe. However, over time, children will find this process easier the more time they spend in a nursery setting.

By having friendly, supportive nursery practitioners who can ease them into the nursery environment, children will soon immerse themselves in the experience and become less concerned with the whereabouts of their parents.

The way the nursery is designed can also help with this, as by providing an exciting and engaging learning environment, children are more encouraged to explore. At The Hunny Pot nursery, there are 4 bright, attractive floors which are age-related for the children. This inspires children to freely explore the nursery whilst feeling safe and secure.

Learning new skills

There’s never a dull day at nursery! Well, certainly not at the Hunny Pot nursery as we provide a fun and stimulating environment where children can thrive.

Through a wide range of activities, resources, and experiences designed to engage your little one, there is always so much for your child to do and learn.

As such, this leads to a greater level of independence as they are starting to figure things out for themselves.

Every day is an exciting, new adventure and the best thing is, you can leave the messy play at nursery! At The Hunny Pot, we have a range of outdoor classrooms for your child to take advantage of. For example, in Kanga’s Pocket, children can lose themselves in a whole host of activities, and play in the mud kitchen, sand pit, or water pit.

Your little one will be learning new skills every day which benefits them both academically and socially. From learning how to work with others, to learning how to put their own coat on, to understanding different mathematical concepts, these are all valuable life skills.

Takes pressure off parents

Now it’s your turn to enjoy some of the benefits of sending your child to nursery.

Juggling the rest of your life and looking after your child can be very time consuming. Even aside from going to work, you will have a lot on your plate such as keeping up with day-to-day housework, catching up with friends, and having time to yourself.

Furthermore, looking after an energetic pre-schooler can be pretty heavy, and you deserve a well-needed break. Even the best parent in the world gets tired, and it’s very difficult to keep up with an active toddler!

Even for just a few hours a week, sending your child to nursery can provide some much needed relief and precious ‘me-time’.

This also means the time you do spend with your child is quality time, instead of you feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Instead, you will be able to enjoy the activities you share, whether that’s baking together or reading a book.
child drawing with coloured pencils

Nursery Age: When Can My Child Start?

When it comes to nursery age, there is no one-size-fits-all.

It’s about understanding your child, and also taking your individual circumstances into account. If you’re lucky enough to have enhanced maternity leave, then you might choose to send your child to nursery at the age of 3.

However, like lots of parents and caregivers, you might need to return to work within months, which means your child would be starting nursery much sooner.

It’s important to know that there is no right or wrong answer. Only you know what is right for your child, and when the time comes, the most important thing is to choose a nursery that caters for your child’s every need.

At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we know that this can be a daunting prospect. As a parent, you need to feel confident that your child is in safe hands, and that they are happy and secure in their nursery setting.

That’s why we create a home-from-home environment, and make your child feel welcome from the moment they come through the door. To find out more or to book a free tour, just get in touch with our team! We’re looking forward to meeting you.