Understanding Developmental Milestones for Children


As children grow older, there are certain milestones that parents and guardians can look for to know whether their child is developing normally. Developmental milestones are behaviors or physical skills seen in infants and children as they grow and develop. Rolling over, crawling, walking and talking are all considered milestones. The milestones are different for each age range and there is a normal range in which a child may reach each milestone.  From birth to around age 3, children will learn new things and respond to parental cues that signal a normal pattern of development.

Whether it’s an infant responding to the sound of their own name to the first time a toddler says “mama” or “daddy,” here are selective behaviors and skills from the CDC to look for in the first three years of your child’s life:

From birth to 6 months, many children will do the following:

  • Respond to their own name
  • Respond to other people’s emotions and often seem happy
  • Copy sounds
  • Enjoy playing with others, especially their parents
  • Sit, without support, for short periods of time

From 9 months until 1 year old (12 months), many children will do the following:

  • Use simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye bye”
  • Pull themselves up to stand
  • Say “mama” and “dada” and use simple exclamations like “uh oh!”
  • Copy gestures such as smiling and making silly faces
  • Respond to simple spoken requests

From 1 year to 1 ½ years (18 months), many children will do the following:

  • Play simple, pretend games, such as feeding a doll
  • Point to show others something they find interesting
  • Show a full range of emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger
  • Walk without help
  • Say several single words

From 1 ½ to 2 years (24 months), many children will do the following:

  • Say phrases with 2 to 4 words
  • Follow simple instructions
  • Kick a ball
  • Get excited when spending time with other children
  • Point to things or pictures when they are named

From 2 years to 3 years (36 months), many children will do the following:

  • Show affection for friends
  • Use 4 to 5 word sentences
  • Copy the actions and words of adults and friends
  • Climb well
  • Play make-believe with dolls, animals and people

To learn more about your child’s developmental milestones, please check out South Carolina’s newly revised Early Learning Standards. The SC Early Learning Standards represent input and expertise from professionals across the state. These standards describe children’s development and learning milestones from birth to age 5.

To access the standards please click here:

Early Learning Standards Book  (Print version)

Early Learning Standards Book  (ADA Version)

If you have any concerns about developmental milestones or delays in your child, BabyNet is South Carolina Health and Human Services system of services for infants and toddlers birth to three years who may have developmental delays or have conditions associated with developmental delays. BabyNet can provide parents and guardians with the services and information they need to be the best possible teachers and caregivers for their children.

For more information on BabyNet, visit https://msp.scdhhs.gov/babynet/.

To access more detailed information on developmental milestones from the CDC, including their milestones checklist and free app, visit https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html.

Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for ABC Quality approved child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.

By ABC Quality Team at 14 May 2019, 11:00 AM