Developmental milestones are used by professionals to determine the need for support or interventions.

Physical Development Checklist for Early Childhood

by Renee Miller

Congrats! Your 13-month-old has taken his first wobbly steps and you're one proud mama. You're also a relieved mama -- he's right on target for achieving this developmental milestone. Physical development milestones are general guidelines used to monitor development of gross, fine and oral motor skills. They also let you know that both you and your child are doing well.

1. Birth to 3 Months

While parents like to think their newborn is smiling or reaching for them, infants younger than 3 months of age make largely reflexive movements such as sucking, swallowing, yawning and grasping. It isn't until 2 to 3 months of age that babies start to move intentionally, and can hold their head up and push upward when lying on their tummy.

2. 4 Months

The fun really begins at 4 months of age. Four-month-olds hold their heads steady without support, pushing up on their elbows when lying on their tummies and pushing down on their legs when their feet touch a hard surface. Babies at this age also roll from tummy to back. Playtime is more fun for both of you as babies at this age can grasp and shake toys and start bringing their hands to their mouths.

3. 6 to 9 Months

Between 6 and 9 months, busy becomes an understatement for parents and baby. Six-month-olds roll front to back and back to front, and begin to sit without support. Babies at this age support their weight on their legs and like to bounce. By 8 months, babies crawl backward or forward, and pick things up between their thumb and forefinger. They also reach with both hands; transfer objects from one hand to the other, and may be able to sit up alone. By 9 months, babies begin to chew small pieces of food, point a finger, and stack objects. Nine-month-olds can also pull themselves to a standing position and walk with support.

4. 12 to 18 Months

As children approach 1 year of age, they crawl across the floor, climb up and down stairs and begin trying to walk. You might find you really do need eyes in the back of your head as your child will begin to walk and run independently around 18 months. Children at this age can pull toys while walking and help undress themselves. By 18 months, children can also drink from a cup and use a spoon.

5. 2 Years

By the age of two, your child is moving at breakneck speed toward independence. Two-year-olds can feed themselves, pour out the contents of a container and hold a crayon in a fisted grasp to draw straight lines and circles. As their gross motor skills improve, 2-year-olds stand on tiptoe, run, kick a ball, and climb onto and down from furniture. They can also walk up and down stairs with support, and throw a ball, among other things, overhand.

6. 3 Years

Three-year olds are often like having little helpers. Their physical development allows them to do many new things by themselves and they can't wait to try. They can hold a crayon properly between thumb and forefinger and as their fine motor skills improve, 3-year-olds draw stick figures and geometric shapes, and begin to master buttons, zippers and turning pages in a book. Climbing is a breeze for 3-year-olds and their gross motor skills expand as they learn to pedal a tricycle, kick a ball, and navigate stairs with ease.

7. 4 Years

By 4 years old, your child is ready for action. At this age, children are able to hop and stand on one foot for up to two seconds. They can catch a ball and use scissors with supervision. Four-year-olds begin to form shapes and discernible objects with dough and can print simple letters and numbers and draw geometric shapes. They can walk along a line, jump in a forward motion and steer a tricycle.

8. 5 Years

At age 5, your child is in constant motion. Five-year-olds hop and stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds. Most 5-year-olds can do somersaults and skip in a forward motion. They use a fork and spoon, and eat independently. At this age, children will try to dress themselves, sometimes more than once each day, and use the bathroom independently as well. Five-year-olds are able to trace or copy a variety of letters and numbers, and cut along a printed line with scissors.

About the Author

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

Photo Credits

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