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Developmental Guides and Tools

From that first sweet smile, little coo or giggle to rolling over, crawling and walking – you mark every milestone your baby reaches. But like most parents, you may also worry about whether your baby is developing correctly.

While it's easy for parents to compare their baby to other babies, it's important to know that every baby develops a little bit differently. Some walk, talk, smile or coo sooner or later than others.

Questions about your baby's development? Find a pediatrician with answers

So to help you with your expectations or concerns with your baby's development, our doctors have put together some helpful advice. Here you'll find charts from our developmental specialists that you give an idea of average milestones for the first 15 months of your baby's development. We also have a link to the Milestone Tracker App. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this FREE app helps you track your baby's development from birth to 5 years.

Developmental milestones

These developmental milestones from our pediatric developmental specialists provide you with a quick reference. It's important to note that if your baby was born prematurely, you'll need to adjust the age difference. The information is also available in a checklist format below.

By 3 months

Typical Speech Development*

  • Sucks and swallows well during feeding
  • Quiets or smiles in response to sound or voice
  • Coos or vocalizes other than crying
  • Turns head toward direction of sound

Typical Play Development* (while lying on their back)

  • Visually tracks a moving toy from side to side
  • Attempts to reach for a rattle held above their head
  • Keeps head in the middle to watch faces or toys

Typical Physical Development* (while lying on their tummy)

  • Pushes up on arms
  • Lifts and holds head up

Signs to Watch for in Physical Development*

  • Difficulty lifting head
  • Stiff legs with little or no movement
  • Pushes back with head
  • Keeps hands fisted and lacks arm movement

By 6 months

Typical Speech Development*

  • Begins to use consonant sounds in babbling, e.g., "dada"
  • Uses babbling to get attention
  • Coos or vocalizes other than crying
  • Begins to eat cereals and pureed foods

Typical Play Development*

  • Reaches for a nearby toy while on their tummy
  • Transfers a toy from one hand to the other while lying on their back
  • Reaches both hands to play with feet while lying on their back

Typical Physical Development*

  • Uses hands to support self in sitting
  • Rolls from back to tummy
  • While standing with support, accepts entire weight with legs

Signs to Watch for in Physical Development*

  • Rounded back
  • Unable to lift head up
  • Poor head control
  • Difficulty bringing arms forward to reach out
  • Arches back and stiffens legs
  • Arms held back
  • Stiff legs

By 9 months

Typical Speech Development*

  • Increases variety of sounds and syllable combinations in babbling
  • Looks at familiar objects and people when named
  • Begins to eat junior and mashed table foods

Typical Play Development*

  • In a high chair, holds and drinks from a bottle
  • Explores and examines an object using both hands
  • Turns several pages of chunky board book at once
  • In simple play, imitates others

Typical Physical Development*

  • Sits and reaches for toys without falling
  • Moves from tummy or back to sitting
  • Creeps on hands and knees with alternate arm and leg movement

Signs to Watch for in Physical Development*

  • Uses one hand predominantly
  • Rounded back
  • Poor use of arms in sitting
  • Difficulty crawling
  • Uses only one side of body to move
  • Inability to straighten back
  • Cannot take weight on legs

By 12 months

Typical Speech Development*

  • Meaningfully uses "mama" and "dada"
  • Responds to simple commands such as "come here"
  • Produces long strings of gibberish (jargoning) in social communication
  • Begins to use an open cup

Typical Play Development*

  • Finger feeds self
  • Releases objects into a container with a large opening
  • Uses thumb and pointer finger to pick up tiny objects

Typical Physical Development*

  • Pulls to stand and cruises along furniture
  • Stands alone and takes several independent steps

Signs to Watch for in Physical Development*

  • Difficulty getting to stand because of stiff legs and pointed toes
  • Only uses arms to pull up to standing
  • Sits with weight to one side
  • Strongly flexed or stiffly extended arms
  • Needs to use hand to maintain sitting

By 15 months

Typical Speech Development*

  • Vocabulary consists of 5-10 words
  • Imitates new, less familiar words
  • Understands about 50 words
  • Increases variety of coarsely chopped table foods

Typical Play Development*

  • Stacks 2 objects or blocks
  • Helps getting undressed
  • Holds and drinks from a cup

Typical Physical Development*

  • Walks independently and seldom falls
  • Squats to pick up toy

Signs to Watch for in Physical Development*

  • Unable to take steps independently
  • Poor standing balance, falls frequently
  • Walks on toes

FREE Milestone Tracker

A favorite of our Cook Children's pediatricians, this FREE app lets you track your child's milestones from age 2 months to 5 years. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can access easy-to-use illustrated checklists; get tips from CDC for encouraging your child's development; and find out what to do if you are ever concerned about how your child is developing.

From birth to age 5, your child should reach milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves. Photos and videos in this app illustrate each milestone and make tracking them for your child easy and fun!

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2018 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by Cook Children's, The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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