Developmental Milestones

Developmental Milestones 

At the age of 3, most children can: 
o Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps
o Can name most familiar things
o Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under”
o Says first name, age, and sex o Names a friend
o Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats) o Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time
o Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences
o Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
o Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
o Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces o Understands what “two” means
o Copies a circle with pencil or crayon
o Turns book pages one at a time
o Builds towers of more than 6 blocks
o Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle
o Copies adults and friends
o Shows affection for friends without prompting
o Takes turns in games
o Shows concern for a crying friend
o Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers”
o Shows a wide range of emotions
o Separates easily from mom and dad
o May get upset with major changes in routine
o Dresses and undresses self
o Climbs well
o Runs easily
o Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)
o Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step


At the age of 4, most children can:
o Knows some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he” and “she”
o Sings a song or says a poem from memory such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or the “Wheels on the Bus”
o Tells stories
o Can say first and last name
o Names some colors and some numbers
o Understands the idea of counting
o Starts to understand time
o Remembers parts of a story
o Understands the idea of “same” and “different”
o Draws a person with 2 to 4 body parts
o Uses scissors
o Starts to copy some capital letters
o Plays board or card games
o Tells you what he thinks is going to happen next in a book
o Enjoys doing new things
o Plays “Mom” and “Dad”
o Is more and more creative with make-believe play
o Would rather play with other children than by himself
o Cooperates with other children
o Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
o Talks about what she likes and what she is interested in
o Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds
o Catches a bounced ball most of the time
o Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food


At the age of 5, most children can:
o Speaks very clearly
o Tells a simple story using full sentences
o Uses future tense; for example, “Grandma will be here.”
o Says name and address o Counts 10 or more things
o Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
o Can print some letters or numbers
o Copies a triangle and other geometric shapes
o Knows about things used every day, like money and food 
o Wants to please friends
o Wants to be like friends
o More likely to agree with rules
o Likes to sing, dance, and act
o Is aware of gender
o Can tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
o Shows more independence (for example, may visit a next-door neighbor by himself [adult supervision is still needed])
o Is sometimes demanding and sometimes very cooperative 
o Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
o Hops; may be able to skip
o Can do a somersault
o Uses a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife
o Can use the toilet on her own
o Swings and climbs


www.cdc.gov/ActEarly 

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