What social milestones your child should be reaching

social milestones

Social milestones can be just as important as physical ones and are a great way to ensure that our children develop their EQ. We have put together a guideline on emotional milestones according to different ages. It is important to remember that each child is different, and some reach milestones at different times to others. If you are concerned, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your child’s development.

Social milestones for 2 to 4 months

  • 2 months
    • Your baby can smile indiscriminately and gets excited when they see somebody.
    • Communicates through making cooing sounds towards parents.
  • 3 months
    • Now smiles selectively at certain people and responds to their environment’s positive and negative experiences.
    • Identifies different voices.
  • 4 months
    • Baby recognises and responds to their name.
    • Starts to make longer conversations using combinations of vowel sounds and consonants.

Social milestones for 5 to 8 months

  • 5 months
    • Vocalises to attract attention, starts to stop/withdraw in response to ‘no’. Babbles using a distinctive pattern.
  • 6 months
    • Starts responding to games like ‘peek-a-boo’.
    • Changes the pitch of their voice – vocal play starts.
    • Responds to their own name.
  • 7 months
    • Starts to make double sounds when chattering.
    • Starts to give resistance when things don’t go their way.
    • Experiences fear when exposed to new places or people.
    • Will cry and scream for attention.
  • 8 months
    • Starts to protest when separated from mother; this is a phase of separation anxiety.
    • Appears to understand some simple, verbal requests.
    • Makes sounds such as ‘da, ga, pa, ma.’

Social milestones for 9 to 13 months

  • 9 months
    • Starts to chatter 4 syllable sounds’ ma-ma’.
    • Turns their head towards you when you call their name.
  • 10 months
    • Will say their first words between the ages of 10-12 months.
    • They can shake their head to indicate ‘no’.
    • Makes gestures to illustrate words: ‘bye-bye’ will wave their hand.
    • Will search for a person if you ask them, ‘where’s daddy?’
    • Enjoys copying other peoples gestures.
  • 11 months
    • Between 11-15 months, they will start to use 1-2 word sentences.
  • 12 months
    • Uses one word to make a sentence. E.g. ‘ball’, and may point at the same time.
    • Should be able to pronounce all vowel sounds now.
    • Associates qualities of an object with the object itself: when they see a plane, they will say up.

Social milestones for 15 to 18 months

  • 15 months
    • Understands at least 10 words without the object being present.
    • Can say 4-6 words with consistency.
    • Can indicate when they want something by using gestures and tone of voice, they will tend to point to what they need.
  • 18 months
    • Understands 15-50 words.
    • Listens to rhymes or songs for 2-3 minutes.
    • Starts to use adjectives like ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
    • Can say 6-20 recognisable words.

Social milestones for 2 years

  • Can use 50 recognisable words.
  • They understand 250-1200 words.
  • Uses 2-3 word sentences: ‘I am tired.’
  • Combines nouns and verbs: ‘Mommy go’.
  • Uses the following words appropriately: ‘Yes, no, please, thank you.’
  • Refers to themselves by name.
  • Understands words like ‘what, mine, yours and why’.
  • Uses gestures when expressing themselves.

Social milestones for 2 and half years

  • Uses 4-word sentences.
  • Uses adjectives: ‘Big, small’.
  • Starts to use plurals and past-tense.
  • Starts to develop a sense of humour, plays tricks.

Social milestones for 3 years

  • Has a vocabulary of around 900 words.
  • Uses functional sentences.
  • Understands opposites: ‘Hot, cold’.
  • Asks many questions.
  • Can have a conversation and tries to explain incidents to you.
  • They can make a negative statement: ‘I do not want to’.

Social milestones for 4 years

  • Can pronounce the following sounds: D, K, G, J, Y.
  • Can understand a 4-step command.
  • Likes to play with words (rhyming).
  • Uses sentences of 4-5 words.
  • Uses comparative words: small-smaller-smallest.
  • Understands if and because.
  • Uses a lot of ‘why and how’ questions.


By Megan Smith – Occupational Therapist

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