Understanding Your Child’s Developmental Stages

Not sure what types of behaviors you should be looking for at a certain age?

To help you answer these questions, teli has complied guidelines by age from the leading sources in child development as well as their 60+ years of experience in the care of children with developmental delays.

Communication

Movement

Learning/ Thinking

Self-Care

3 Months

Communication

  • Responds to loud sounds: — Is calm or quiet in response to a familiar voice — Coos and gurgles (make sounds other than crying or fussing)

Movement

  • Kicks their arms and legs freely when lying on their back
  • Lifts their head when placed on their tummy
  • Briefly grasps a finger or light vweight toy placed in their hand

Learning/Thinking

  • Likes to look at faces or contrasting objects (i.e. black and white)
  • Follows a moving object or person with their eyes

Self-Care

  • Sucks and swallows well from the breast or bottle with little leakage/ dribbling
  • Enjoys sucking on other things such as their hands, your fingers, a pacifier, or tongue

6 Months

Communication

  • Turns their head to find sounds
  • Makes sounds to express happiness (laughing, squealing, etc.) and sounds to show displeasure (crying, fussing, whining, etc.)
  • Begins babbling with a few consonant sounds like “b” or “m”

Movement

  • Rolls from their back to their tummy 
  • Sits for a few seconds on their own while bent forward or leaning on their hands
  • Bears weight on their legs when held in standing
  • Reaches for nearby objects
  • Passes a toy from one hand to the other hand

Learning/Thinking

  • Shows interest in toys and try to get a toy that is out of reach
  • Grasps toys and play by shaking or banging them
  • Brings toys and other objects to their mouth to explore them

Self-Care

  • Anticipates daily activities like being fed (may open their mouth, calm, or show excitement at seeing the bottle)
  • Puts their hands up to the bottle to help support it

9 Months

Communication

  • Strings common sounds together like “mamama”, “dadada” or “gagaga”
  • Pauses briefly in respond to a firm tone of voice or “no” (even though they may continue what they are doing)
  • Communicates through gestures like reaching, waving, raising their arms, or pushing things away

Movement

  • Sits up straight without support for at least a minute
  • Scoots forward and pivot on their tummy
  • Stands while holding onto furniture or your hands
  • Holds out a toy or food to share or show you

Learning/Thinking

  • Enjoys playing by banging toys or on other objects
  • Imitates gestures and sounds
  • Looks for a toy that they dropped or that you try to hide while they are looking

Self-Care

  • Picks up small objects or pieces of food using their thumb and one or two fingers
  • Eats pureed or soft food from a spoon

Communication

Movement

Learning/ Thinking

Self-Care

12 Months

Communication

  • Follows a few simple requests or commands (.ie. “come here,” “sit down,” etc.)
  • Vocalizes or gestures to get your attention or keep your attention
  • Babbles using lots of different sounds and tones of voice
  • Begins to say their first word like “mama” or “dada”

Movement

  • Pulls themselves up into standing
  • Walks while holding onto furniture (cruising)
  • Claps their hands or two objects together
  • Points or pokes at things with their index finger.

Learning/Thinking

  • Enjoys putting objects into containers and taking them out
  • Practices and masters simple cause and effect toys (i.e. pushing a button to make music play)
  • Begins to play with toys purposefully (like pushing cars or rolling a ball)

Self-Care

  • Holds out their arm or leg to help with dressing
  • Finger feeds themselves bite-sized pieces of food
  • Drinks from an open cup with help or a toddler cup on their own

18 Months

Communication

  • Uses a few words and imitates some new sounds or words
  • Points to show you things they want or things they are interested in
  • Follows simple directions (i,e. “Go get your shoes.”)
  • Finds familiar objects or people you name around the house (like “Where’s Grandma?” or “Where’s the dog?”)

Movement

  • Walks well (even while carrying a toy)
  • Squats to pick up toys from the floor and stand back up
  • Climbs up stairs and possibly on low furniture
  • Stacks two to four blocks

Learning/Thinking

  • Scribbles with crayons
  • Helps turn thick pages of books
  • Knows the purpose of common household objects (like putting a phone up to their ear to talk or using a spoon to pretend to eat)

Self-Care

  • Holds and drinks from a cup though may spill some
  • Feeds themselves with a spoon (it can still be a bit messy)
  • Takes off some clothing like socks or hats

24 Months

Communication

  • Learns new words on a regular basis
  • Begins putting two words together in a phrase (i.e. “Bye, mom,” “more milk,” etc.)
  • Identifies some simple body parts when named
  • Points to familiar pictures in books when named (may even name the pictures on their own)

Movement

  • Throws and kicks a ball
  • Runs (though may have trouble stopping and turning)
  • Climbs on and off furniture by themselves
  • Imitates drawing lines on paper

Learning/Thinking

  • Enjoys exploring by opening and closing things and trying to see how things work
  • Begins matching a few shapes to complete a two-to-three piece shape puzzle or shape sorter
  • Listens to a short story or song (may try to sing on their own, too)

Self-Care

  • Feeds themselves with a spoon with little spilling
  • Washes their hands with help
  • Knows where things generally belong

Communication

Movement

Learning/ Thinking

Self-Care

30 Months

Communication

  • Uses many words on their own
  • Often uses two- to three-word phrases when talking
  • Follows a two-step direction (such as “Get your shoes, and bring them here.”)
  • Names a few simple actions when seeing them in pictures (i.e. eating, sleeping, crying, etc.)

Movement

  • Walks up and down stairs while holding onto the wall or railing
  • Jumps with both feet leaving the floor hTwists their wrist to unscrew a lid or turn a doorknob
  • Strings a large bead

Learning/Thinking

  • Shows increased problem solving (i.e. pulling up a chair to get something out of reach or trying several different ways to open something they want)
  • Sorts a few objects based on shape or color
  • Tells you about something they created (may tell you they drew mommy or built a castle)
  • Pretends an object is something else (i.e. a brush is a phone or a block is a car)

Self-Care

  • Takes off most items of clothing on their own
  • Uses a fork to feed themselves
  • Helps to put things away or clean up

36 Months

Communication

  • Talks about things that happened in the past or that are happening in the future
  • Understandable when talking most of the time
  • Responds to several prepositions (i.e. in, on, under, beside, etc.)
  • Asks questions about things around themselves (where?, what?, why?)

Movement

  • Walks up stairs while placing just one foot on each step (alternating their feet)
  • Stands on one foot briefly
  • Catches a large ball using both arms and their chest
  • Opens and closes a pair of scissors to snip

Learning/Thinking

  • Begins to understand the meaning of one item as opposed to many (i.e. “You can have one cookie.”)
  • Begins to turn pages of a book one at a time
  • Copies drawing a circle
  • Sometimes hold a crayon or pencil with the tips of their fingers like you do

Self-Care

  • Pulls up their own pants and puts on a shirt or jacket themselves
  • Shows some interest in learning to use the toilet (may already be potty trained)
  • States their first and last name when asked