Developmental Milestones

Children develop at different rates

Skills such as smiling for the first time, babbling and walking are called developmental milestones. Children develop at different rates. Some children speed along, others may need more time to learn the same skills. It is impossible to tell exactly when a child will learn any given skills. However, early developmental skills tend to follow a certain sequence. Developmental milestones give a general idea of the skills to expect as a child grows. See below as a guideline.

As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not reaching their milestones or if you are concerned about your child’s development, come and talk to us. We can address your concerns and give you advice.

6 – 9 months – holds bottle

9 – 12 months – finger-feeds self

12 – 18 months – chews most foods well

12 – 18 months – drinks from open-top cup

18 – 24 months – feeds self with spoon

18 – 24 months – gives up bottle

18 – 24 months – will use a spoon with little spilling

30 – 36 months – will feed themselves using a spoon and fork


This is an approximate timeline: every child will differ slightly in their progress.

6 months – make babbling sounds

12 months – single words

2 years – two-word phrases

2.5 years – short phrases, three words together

3 years – four-word sentences; can be understood approx. 75% of time

4 years – complete sentences


All children are individuals and develop speech at different rates. The milestones above are guidelines only.

6 weeks old – a baby can get through the night without being fed if they are medically well, putting on weight and weigh over 10 lbs.

6 months – you can start using ‘controlled crying’ if necessary.

9 – 12 months – they should be sleeping through the night.

9 – 12 months – they should be having 1 – 2 naps a day and may begin to refuse the morning nap.

13 – 18 months – nap once in the afternoon.

31 months+ – cuts out all naps.

0 – 1 years – Babies will point to pictures and babble in imitation of the sounds a caregiver makes when reading.

1 – 2 years – Children will point to the pictures they want to be named and may use one or two words to convey information.

2 – 3 years – Children will respond to simple questions about familiar objects and events as shown in pictures and described in stories.

3 – 4 years – Children will begin to make connections between what they are reading and their own life experiences.

4 – 5 years – Children will compare and contrast favourite characters in different books.

2 years

  • play primarily on their own
  • imitate others’ actions, particularly adults.


3 years

  • watch other children; play well with others for brief periods
  • share toys and take turns in simple group activities
  • show affection to familiar playmates.


4 years

  • cooperate with other children
  • show empathy for others
  • participate in dramatic make-believe play
  • choose their own friends.


5 years

  • play competitive games; understand the idea of fair play
  • enjoy singing, dancing and acting
  • show more independence and may visit a friend unaccompanied
  • play group games with simple rules.

If your baby shows any of these signs, please ask a professional for an immediate evaluation:

  • No big smiles or joyful expressions by 6 months.
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by 9 months.
  • No babbling by 12 months.
  • No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months.
  • No words by 16 months.
  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months.
  • Any loss or regression of skills at any age.