From an early age, there are a few child developmental milestones and stages, each with important signs to check your child is on track.

When it comes to your baby growing up, there are a few major development milestones and stages that every parent looks forward to, from taking their first steps to smiling and waving “bye-bye” for the first time. But these are just some of the more obvious milestones. From birth to around 5 years old, there are many important signs to look out for in the way they play, learn, speak and move that indicate your child is developing on the right track. In this blog, we highlight a few of the key development stages and the milestones to look out for.

The stages outlined here are part of the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards. It’s important to keep in mind that a child’s learning path is ongoing, and each individual will progress towards outcomes in different ways and that learning doesn’t always happen in a straight line.

Birth to 4 Months

The first 4 months can be some of the most exciting, if not sleep-depriving, moments of raising your child. During this stage, you’ll get past the newborn phase and start to get a better sense of your baby’s personality. They’ll begin to gain better control over their bodies, for example being able to support their head upright, and will develop a strong sucking reflex.

Key milestones:

  • Baby turns their head to the side when the cheek is touched
  • Responds to some gentle touching and cuddling or light rocking
  • Begins to roll side to side
  • Smiles and laughs
  • Shows excitement at being fed

Some of the warning signs at this stage include:

  • Arching of the back
  • Does not start to make sounds
  • Not responding to familiar faces or sounds

4 to 8 Months

By the time your baby reaches 4 months old, they’ll be starting to understand both themselves and you better. They’ll know when you call their name, and recognise your voice. Over this period, they should begin to become more curious about the surroundings and look to start communicating with others.

Key milestones:

  • Attempts to sit on their own
  • Starts crawling movements using hands and feet, aka the “commando crawl”
  • Recognises familiar people
  • Swipes at nearby hanging objects
  • Enjoys games

Some of the warning signs at this stage include:

  • Struggling to learn sounds
  • Not learning to roll or play on the floor
  • Struggles to move objects between hands

8 to 12 months

At this point, your baby becomes a curious rover. They are not only able to crawl, but have started to develop problem-solving skills that make them a nightmare to keep an eye on. With their new abilities, their interest in the world around them only grows. They begin to point and make sounds and begin to learn how they affect people around them.

Key milestones:

  • Can raise themselves to sitting position
  • Sits upright with little or no support
  • Picks up and throws objects
  • Crawling quickly
  • Shows interest in picture books

Some of the warning signs at this stage include:

  • Unresponsive to carers
  • Struggling to sit, crawl or pull themselves up to stand
  • Not learning to eat solids

1-2 years

By now, your child is a verified toddler. They do things their own way, and they’re showing clear signs of learning, playing and exploring. They’re able to concentrate more, and as a result, are better at listening and playing with others for longer. Each day they’ll take on new challenges and will seem increasingly independent.

Key milestones:

  • Your child is walking, climbing and beginning to run
  • Can drink from a cup
  • Cooperates when playing
  • Seeks comfort when upset or afraid
  • Recognises self in the mirror
  • Comprehends simple questions or commands

Some of the warning signs at this stage include:

  • Is not communicating through word or actions
  • Is not responding to others
  • Not seeking attention

2 to 3 years

By now, your child’s memory is fast developing, and they’re able to talk about people who aren’t present. They can begin doing more things outside the home and playing more independently. Moreover, their imagination is skyrocketing, with playtime becoming more and more about acting out scenarios and imitating what they perceive around them.

Key milestones:

  • Can start to draw shapes and lines
  • Begins to play with other children more
  • Simple make-believe play
  • Show remorse or guilt for poor behaviour
  • Uses symbolic play, e.g. use a block as a car
  • Talks by using 2 or 3 words together
  • Copies other people’s words and actions

Some of the warning signs at this stage include:

  • Is not interested in playing
  • Finds it hard to use small objects
  • Is not using many words
  • Is not interested in others

3 to 5 years

Finally, your child has reached pre-schooler age. At this stage, they are incredibly fascinated by the world around them. They are able to communicate better every day, speaking in longer formed sentence and asking questions left right and centre. They are hyper-focused on understanding more about the world around them. They look forward to playing with other kids and learning rules as they develop their social skills.

Key milestones:

  • Is able to dress/undress without much help
  • Hold pens/pencils between thumb and first two fingers
  • Can feed themselves
  • Enjoys playing with others
  • Understands when others are hurt
  • Answers simple questions
  • Speaks in sentences using numerous different words
  • Enjoys jokes and stories

Some of the warning signs at this stage include:

  • Has speech fluency problems or stammering
  • Not playing with others
  • Unable to join a conversation

At My Cubby House Early Learning Centre, we make sure to keep an eye on your child’s development milestones, so you can rest assured your child is reaching their full potential.

If you are concerned about your child’s development, don’t hesitate to contact us, or make an appointment with your local family doctor to carry out a full development check.

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