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Developmental Milestones

If your child is not meeting these milestones please speak with your family doctor and/or call the Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre at 613.737.0871 ext. 4425 to talk to them about your concerns.

From the Ministry of Children and Youth Services:

By 6 months, your baby

  • turns to source of sounds
  • startles in response to sudden, loud noises
  • makes different cries for different needs - I'm hungry, I'm tired
  • watches your face as you talk
  • smiles and laughs in response to your smiles and laughs
  • imitates coughs or other sounds - ah, eh, buh

By 9 months, your baby

  • responds to his name
  • responds to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door
  • understands being told "no"
  • gets what she wants through gestures, e.g. reaching to be picked up
  • plays social games with you, e.g. peek-a-boo

By 12 months, your baby

  • follows simple one-step directions - "sit down"
  • looks across the room to something you point to
  • consistently uses three to five words
  • uses gestures to communicate - waves "bye bye", shakes head "no"
  • gets your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes
  • brings you toys to show you
  • "performs" for attention and praise
  • combines lots of sounds as though talking - abada baduh abee
  • shows interest in simple picture books

By 18 months, your toddler

  • understands the concepts of "in and out", "off and on"
  • points to several body parts when asked
  • uses at least 20 words consistently
  • responds with words or gestures to simple questions:
    • Where's teddy?
    • What's that?
  • Demonstrates some pretend play with toys:
    • gives teddy a drink
    • pretends a bowl is a hat
  • makes at least four different consonant sounds - p, b, m, n, d, g, w, h
  • enjoys being read to and looking at simple books with you
  • points to pictures using one finger

By 24 months, your toddler

  • follows two-step directions -
  • Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.
  • Uses 100 to 150 words
  • uses at least two pronouns - "you", "me", "mine"
  • consistently combines two to four words in short phrases - "daddy hat", "truck go down"
  • enjoys being with other children
  • begins to offer toys to peers and imitates other children's actions and words
  • people can understand your child's words 50 to 60 per cent of the time
  • forms words and sounds easily and effortlessly
  • holds books the right way up and turns pages
  • "reads" to stuffed animals or toys
  • scribbles with crayons

By 30 months, your toddler

  • understands the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little, a lot, more)
  • uses some adult grammar - "two cookies", "bird flying", "I jumped"
  • uses more than 350 words
  • uses action words - run, spill, fall
  • begins taking short turns with other children, using both toys and words
  • shows concern when another child is hurt or sad
  • combines several actions in play - feeds doll then puts her to sleep; puts blocks in train then drives train and drops blocks off
  • puts sounds at the start of most words
  • produces words with two or more syllables or beats - "ba-na-na", "com-pu-ter", "a-pple"
  • recognizes familiar logos and signs - McDonalds golden arches, stop sign
  • remembers and understands familiar stories

By age 3, your child

  • understands "who", "what", "where" and "why" questions
  • creates long sentences, using 5 to 8 words
  • talks about past events - trip to grandparents' house, day at childcare
  • tells simple stories
  • shows affection for favourite playmates
  • engages in multi-step pretend play - cooking a meal, repairing a car
  • is understood by most people outside of the family, most of the time
  • is aware of the function of print - in menus, lists, signs
  • has a beginning interest in, and awareness of, rhyming

By age 4, your child

  • follows some directions involving 3 or more steps -
    • First get some paper, then draw a picture, last give it to mom.
  • uses adult-type grammar
  • tells stories with a clear beginning, middle and end
  • talks to try to solve problems with adults and other children
  • demonstrates increasingly complex imaginative play
  • is understood by strangers almost all of the time
  • is able to generate simple rhymes - "cat-bat"
  • matches some letters with their sounds - "letter T says tuh"
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