As parents, we naturally want to keep track of how our little ones are developing or if there are any concerns around things they are supposed to be doing. This milestone guide, written by Occupational Therapist Megan Smith, gives you the average milestones children reach at certain ages. It is important to note that not all children are the same, and many develop at different paces than others. If you are concerned about drastically missed milestones, we always suggest booking an appointment with your child’s doctor to check everything is on track.
Milestones for 0 to 6-month-old babies
- During the first 0 to 2 months of the baby’s life, they have limited control over their own movements as they are generally due to reflex actions. (Baby massage and exercises will assist in muscle strength and tone development).
- During the first few weeks, babies will lie in a flexed position (tucked inwards, knees to chest and arms towards trunk centre). This mimics the position they maintained in the womb and allows them to feel safe and secure. Swaddling assists babies in maintaining the contained position.
- Babies first motor milestone are to overcome flexion and uncoil into a more neutral lying position. As their back muscles strengthen, this becomes easier and more natural.
- 4 to 6 weeks – during tummy time, babies will start to lift their heads off the mat for short periods of time. As the neck muscles start to strengthen, this movement becomes easier and will be sustained for longer.
- By six weeks, they should be able to hold their head up for a few minutes in supported sitting and on their tummy.
- 12 weeks – arm movements start to appear more controlled as babies start to swipe for objects held in their visual field. This is important for developing arm strength.
- By 3 months old, when babies are placed on their side, they can roll over onto their back.
- 3 months – babies can hold their heads up at a 45-degree angle during tummy time.
- During the 8 to 12-week period, babies will start to notice their hands and bring them to their mouths actively. This is the starting point in developing hand-eye coordination.
- 4 to 6 months – babies start to prop up on their elbows during tummy time and may even hold themselves up on straight arms in this position. They may collapse on one arm, causing them to roll over accidentally.
- 4 to 6 months – when lying on their backs, babies will start to play and engage with their toes, bringing them right up to their mouths. This is important as the position strengthens their tummy muscles.
- By 6 months, babies should be rolling one way – back to tummy or tummy to back.
- By 6 months, babies will love to be supported on your lap in the standing position and bounce. This strengthens the leg muscles to prepare them for pull-stand.
- 6 months – babies should achieve the sitting position.
- 6 months – babies hands become more functional, and they start to actively grasp and manipulate objects.
Milestones for 6 to 12-month-old babies
- 9 months – independent sitting where babies will be able to get in and out of the sitting position on their own.
- While sitting, babies will start to reach forward for objects and turn their trunks to the sides to reach objects. During the reach, they may find themselves propping forwards into the crawling position.
- 9 months – babies should have a good contralateral crawl.
- By 9 months, babies can pick up an object between their thumb and forefinger.
- Around 9 to 10 months, babies can pass toys from hand to hand.
- At 9 to 12 months, babies will start using external objects to pull themself into a standing position.
- Once in a supported standing position, babies will bounce and rock on their legs, preparing their muscles for weight shifting needed to achieve walking.
- During this period, one bounce will eventually turn into a step, and they will learn how to cruise – holding onto something with their hand’s for support and moving their feet.
- Walking is the most variable milestone and really depends on the individual child. Some walk at 9 months, others at 16 months.
Milestone for 12 to 18-month-old babies
- At 12 months, they will point to objects with their index finger.
- At around 15 months, they can now bend in standing to pick up a toy.
- At 15 months, babies can crawl up a few stairs.
- At 18 months, babies can start to take a few steps backwards.
- At 18 months, babies can page through a thick paged book.
Milestones for 18 to 24-month-old babies
- Towards 2 years, toddlers can now run more rhythmically, faster and with better balance.
- At 2 years, toddlers can walk up and down stairs unaided, holding onto a rail.
- They can stand and kick a big ball without losing balance.
- They can catch a ball if you through it into their arms.
Milestones for 2 to 3-year-old’s
- At 2 years, they will start to ride a tricycle.
- They can hit a ball lying on the floor with a bat.
- They are able to hold a crayon with all fingers and their thumb in opposition, using elbow and shoulder to draw.
- They can jump down a step with two feet together.
- At 2,5 years, they can walk between two lines.
- They will start to cross the midline of their body during activities.
- They can stand on one leg momentarily.
- They can throw a ball in a specific direction.
- They can kick a ball without losing balance.
- They can use their fingers separately – touching their thumb to their index finger.
Milestones for 3-year-olds
- They can walk backwards, forwards and sideways.
- They can walk heel-toe with good balance.
- They can walk on a straight line.
- They can throw a ball from above his head.
- They start to use an inferior pencil grip – holding the pencil between their thumb, index and middle fingers.
Toptots Early Learning SA