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.

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