image of family

Below we have put together a list of helpful guidelines that suggest what children during different stages are likely doing and experiencing. Keep in mind that each child is unique and will develop at their own pace. However, if you think your child may be a bit behind in their milestones it is always a good idea to speak with your pediatrician. Early intervention is the best way to help our little one’s best be prepared to enter school as active learners.

0-3 months 
  • Comfortable being held close and cuddled in arms 
  • Learn to suck and swallow easily 
  • Look at faces and watch expressions 
  • Smile, coo, and gurgle 
  • Move arms and legs easily 
  • Move head from side to side while lying on tummy 
  • Likes to be held during feeding and burped regularly 
  • Takes naps that are 2-3 hours 
3-6 months 
  • Hold head upright without support 
  • Prop themselves up on their arms 
  • Look around at sounds and movements 
  • Reach for, grasp, and bring toys from hand to hand 
  • Roll from their backs to their tummies and vice versa 
  • Babble, squeal, and laugh out loud 
  • Play with their toes while on their backs 
  • Look and play with their hands 
6-9 months 
  • Communicate with sounds, babbling, gestures 
  • Prefer to be with familiar people rather than strangers 
  • Sit without help while playing with toys 
  • Takes two 2-3 hour naps a day 
  • Bang objects to make noise 
  • Move around on their tummies and push up on their hands and knees 
  • Imitate sounds and body movements 
  • Play give and take games with objects 
  • Begin to eat solid foods 
9-12 months 
  • Play peek-a-boo
  • Creep or crawl 
  • Wave bye-bye 
  • Pick up tiny objects using their index fingers and thumbs 
  • Can sit upright by themselves 
  • Use their index finger to point or poke 
  • Can feed themselves using fingers 
  • Can put things in containers 
  • Can pull themselves up to stand 
  • Walk while holding onto things like furniture for support 
  • Look at pictures 
12-18 months 
  • Use spoons to feed themselves 
  • Transition from bottles to cups (with some spilling) 
  • Stack toy blocks 
  • Identify things by pointing to them or pictures of them 
  • Climb chairs 
  • Help you do things 
  • Walk without help 
  • Verbally ask for things like “cookie?” 
  • Are messy 
  • Scribble with crayons 
  • Sometimes show off 
  • Give hugs and kisses 
18-24 months 
  • Listen to short stories 
  • Turn pages of book 
  • Jump and run 
  • Take off their shoes and socks 
  • Communicate in fragmented sentences like “Casey needs doll” 
  • Make simple choices – when offered “This book or that book?” 
  • Imitate writing, coloring, or drawing strokes 
  • Use inflection to ask questions 
  • Walk up and down stairs with help 
  • Copy the way other children play
  • Wash their own hands 
  • Say their own names 
2 years old 
  • Walk and run well 
  • Begin to throw, kick, and catch balls 
  • Turn doorknobs and open lids 
  • Have good thumb and finger control 
  • Drink through straws 
  • Can say their name and age 
  • Do not understand sharing 
3 years old 
  • Walk up and downstairs alternating feet 
  • Start learning how to use the toilet 
  • Begin to scribble with pencil or crayon 
  • Turn book pages one at a time 
  • Sort objects by shape and color 
  • Imitate adults and playmates 
  • Understand concept of “mine,” “his,” and “hers” 
  • Express a wide range of emotions 
4 years old 
  • Jump and stand on one foot up to five seconds 
  • Walk up and down stairs without support 
  • Use safety scissors 
  • Draw circles and squares 
  • Identify some colors 
  • Understand the concept of counting 
  • Cooperate with other children 
  • Dress and undress themselves 
5 years old 
  • Hop and skip 
  • Trace letters in books 
  • Use forks or spoons 
  • Speak sentences of more than five words 
  • Recall names of objects or people 
  • Draw, identify, and describe pictures 
  • Initiate or join in play with other children and make up games 


First 5 San Diego Healthy Development Services
Parent Support and EmpowermentParent support groups, workshops, and classes and peer-to-peer connections for parents of children with special needs.
Developmental ServicesScreening, assessment, and treatment of mild to moderate developmental delays and referrals to additional services as appropriate.
Speech and Language ServicesSpeech therapy for children with mild or moderate speech and language delays.
Behavioral ServicesCounseling or other behavioral therapy to meet mild to moderate social and emotional needs of young children and their families.
YMCA Childcare Resource ServiceSan Diego Quality Preschool Initiative
Provides free referrals for childcare, subsidies for low income families, parent resources and workshops, as well as developmental and behavior health assessments for children.


Call 1-800-481-2151 helps parents and providers understand what quality early care and education look like and find participating early care and education providers. 

Information from First 5 San Diego – Pocket Guide resource “What Can You Expect from Your Little One?” provided by First 5 San Diego