Developmental milestones are a set of behavioral, physical, cognitive, and social skills seen in infants and children as they develop over the years. These milestones are essential to help know if a child is both growing and developing well. Examples of developmental milestones include rolling over, crawling, grabbing objects/holding an adult hand, walking, etc. Every age level has certain key milestones that should be seen in the child. However, children who are the same age may not reach the same milestones together. One may be a bit slower or faster in physical development than the other based on different factors. Such an occurrence cannot be assumed to be abnormal because every child is different. The best approach to any child who seems to have a delay in reaching a developmental milestone that corresponds to his or her age is to visit a pediatrician.


There are several factors that may contribute to a child’s delay in reaching his or her milestone. These factors may be before, during, and/or after birth. Examples include:

Hereditary factors

  • Birth complications, such as low birth weight and birth asphyxia
  • Brain Trauma, such as shaken baby syndrome
  • Serious medical conditions, such as ear infection
  • Environmental factors such as being exposed to alcohol before birth or lead poisoning.
  • Metabolic disorders


Having a checklist may help monitor a child’s development and progress. On the other hand, it might be a source of trouble for parents whose child isn’t developing as s/he ought to.

Note: This is not a definite guideline as every child has their own individual pattern and pace of development.


Physical development

To signify continued brain growth, head circumference increases by nearly 2 cm in each of the first two months of life, followed by 1.5 cm in each of the next two months.

  • Head, chest, and abdominal circumference are nearly equal in measurement with slight differences.
  • Baby still breathes with abdominal muscles
  • Skin is still very sensitive and can get irritated easily
  • Baby cries with visible tears to express discomfort, hunger or thirst
  • Baby responds to warm, sensitive physical care and comfort
  • Baby’s gums may appear red
  • Baby may start moving eyes together at a time
  • Motor development
  • Baby begins to root and suck as the rooting and sucking reflexes are well developed.
  • Baby will not be able to move food to the back of the mouth as swallowing reflex isn’t well developed.
  • Grasp reflex is developed and may be felt when child holds the mothers thumb or index finger with its entire hand.
  • Raises head and legs when lying on the abdomen


Physical development
  • Chest and head circumferences are almost equal
  • To indicate a healthy and ongoing brain growth, head circumference increases by 1 cm every month until the sixth or seven months, then 0.5 cm per month.
  • Posterior fontanels start closing and become fully closed
  • Gums become reddened and swollen. There may also be increased drooling and putting of objects in the mouth. Upper and/or lower incisor teeth may begin to also appear.
  • Baby fat appears on upper/lower limbs
Motor development
  • Swallowing reflex appears. This allows the baby to move solid food within the mouth and swallow
  • Picks up objects using finger and thumb (pincer grip)
  • Reaches for objects with both arms simultaneously; later reaches with one hand or the other
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other; grasps object using entire hand (palmar grasp)
  • Handles, and shakes objects; puts everything in the mouth
  • Able to hold a bottle
  • Sits alone without support, holding head erect, back straightened, and arms propped forward for support
  • Pulls self into a crawling position by rising up on arms and drawing knees up under the body
  • Can roll over from back to stomach position and vice-versa
  • Can look around for fallen objects by 7 months
  • Does not understand ‘no’


Physical development
  • Respiration rates vary with activity
  • Body temperature varies due to environmental factors, activity, and clothing
  • Head and chest circumference are equal
  • Anterior fontanelle starts to close
  • Uses abdominal muscles for breathing
  • More teeth begin to appear, usually in the order of two lower incisors then two upper incisors but some babies may still be waiting for their first
  • Legs may look bowed
  • Both eyes work in unison (true binocular coordination)
  • Can see distant objects or persons from about 13 to 20 ft. away
Motor development
  • Reaches out with one hand in order to grasp an offered toy
  • Can manipulate objects by transferring them from one hand to the other
  • Adjust their grip based on touch at 8 months, not yet visual cues until 9 months of age
  • Playfully arranges objects by placing them inside or on top of one another
  • Starts attempting to pull self to a standing position
  • May begin to stand alone or lean on furniture for support
  • Crawls up and downstairs
  • Walks with adult support, holding onto an older person’s hand
  • May begin to walk alone with inconsistent steps just to explore the environment
  • Responds to hearing tests by locating voice(s)

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