Child Development Milestones: What Happens When?

By Lisa Orlando, Invo-Progressus


A child’s early years are filled with firsts, and it’s important to know what the most crucial ones for their development are and when to expect them. Here is a basic timeline of developmental milestones in three critical areas of a child’s development. 

Hearing and Understanding


Birth to 3 months

  • Reacting to loud sounds
  • Recognizing parents’ voices
  • Calming down when spoken to


4 months to 6 months

  • Following sounds with eyes
  • Reacting to changes in tone of voices
  • Preferring toys that make sounds
  • Paying attention to music


baby-crawling.jpg7 months to 1 year

  • Turning to look in the direction of sudden sounds
  • Imitating sounds such as animal noises
  • Pointing to pictures in books when the word is used


1 year to 3 years

  • Picking up new words after hearing them
  • Hearing when called from another room
  • Recognizing words for common objects
  • Following simple commands




Birth to 3 months

  • Cooing or making other types of self-soothing noises
  • Crying in different ways for different needs


4 months to 6 months

  • Babbling and making consonant sounds such as “p,” “b” and “m”
  • Gurgling while playing with toys
  • Vocalizing when excited or agitated


7 months to 1 year

  • Listening when spoken to
  • Communicating using nonverbal means such as hand gestures
  • Forming groups of sounds while babbling
  • Using at least one word by first birthday
  • Babbling to get attention


1 year to 3 years

  • Using one- or two-word questions
  • Putting together simple, two-word sentences
  • Using multiple consonant sounds at the start of words
  • Being able to name almost everything encountered daily


Fine Motor Skills


Birth to 3 months

  • Grabbing onto someone’s finger with hands
  • Practicing opening and closing fingers
  • Shaking rattles and other handheld toys


4 months to 6 months

  • baby-playing.jpgBeginning to swipe at or grab objects
  • Grabbing objects with fingers and thumbs together in a claw


7 months to 1 year

  • Picking up and dropping toys
  • Stacking blocks
  • Passing items from one hand to another
  • Using a pincer grasp to grab objects
  • Turning objects upside down


1 year to 3 years

  • Turning doorknobs
  • Using crayons and pens to draw simple shapes
  • Putting shoes on and taking them off
  • Using a zipper
  • Holding a cup with one hand


If your child is not meeting a milestone at the estimated time, it may not be cause for alarm, but it is important to talk with your child's pediatrician to determine if further examination or support is necessary. 



About the Author

Lisa Orlando is Senior Vice President, Marketing and Strategy of the Invo Family of Companies, which includes Invo-Progressus — a provider of employment and professional development for therapists. The company connects qualified candidates with job opportunities across the United States.    

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