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Milestones Matter: 10 to Watch for by Age 5

​Birth through age five is an exciting time to watch your child grow and learn to do many new things, like smiling, talking, walking and making friends, for the first time.

While most children meet developmental milestones​ around a certain age, some may take longer to reach them. If you ever have any questions about your child's development, it is always good to talk to your pediatrician. Trust your instincts—you know your child best!

10 Physical, Social, Emotional & Cognitive Milestones to Watch for as Your Child Grows:

  • By 2 months: Tries to look at his or her parent and pays attention to faces.

  • By 4 months: Copies facial movements, such as smiling or frowning, and responds to affection.

  • By 6 months: Likes to look at himself or herself in the mirror and brings objects to mouth.

  • By 9 months: Has favorite toys and picks up small items between the thumb and forefinger.

  • Around 12 months: Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing and follows simple directions.

  • At 18 months: Explores alone if a parent is nearby and points to a body part when asked.

  • By 2 years: Gets excited to see other children and begins sorting shapes and colors.

  • By 3 years: Is able to dress himself or herself and completes puzzles with three or four pieces.

  • By 4 years: Is able to tell the difference between real and make-believe and predicts what is going to happen next in a book.

  • By 5 years: Wants to be like his or her friends and is able to draw a person with six body parts.

Next Steps: Track Your Child's Development

You can celebrate and easily track your child's development with these free milestone checklists from the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). Take the completed checklist to your child's next well-child visit at the pediatrician. You can share all the milestones your child is reaching and any concerns you may have.

If you or your pediatrician thinks there may be a delay, ask for a referral to a medical, school, or developmental specialist. Be sure to follow through on scheduling and attending appointments with any specialists. They will be able to do a more complete evaluation on your child. They will also work with your pediatrician to decide on the next steps to take to help your child reach his or her full potential.

Developmental Screening: Recommendation from the AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children receive screening for development at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months. Screening also can be done whenever a parent or provider has a concern.

If you are not sure if your child has had a developmental screening, ask your pediatrician to screen your child or to share results with you from the most recent screen.


  • Celebrate developmental milestones performed by your child.

  • Act early by talking to your pediatrician about concerns.

  • You know your child best.

Additional Information & Resources:


Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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