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Developmental Milestones

If your child is not meeting these milestones 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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