Understanding Your Child’s Developmental Stages

Concerned about your child’s development? teli has the answers to your Child Development 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. Explore this month-by-month guide for answers to your important questions about your child.

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