Kids grow up so fast! One second they’re peacefully sleeping newborns, and the next second they’re two years old and throwing tantrums. All children develop differently and at different rates, developing their own individual personalities and idiosyncracies. However, there are certain milestones in their development that doctors and other health professionals can track to make sure your child is developing normally and healthily.

What are milestones?

Milestones are a collection of various different abilities a child learns to perform as they develop. Most milestones have an age by which a child should have achieved them. While most children develop following the same basic pattern, the speed of development varies from child to child. Milestones are broadly divided into the following four categories:

  • Gross motor skills (ie using the whole body, such as walking, crawling and sitting)

  • Fine motor skills (actions requiring more precise movements such as writing or drawing)

  • Speech and language (gurgling, speaking, reading)

  • Social skills (non-verbal communication, playing with and without others)

What are some key milestones?

Some examples of key milestones include:


  • Able to hold own head up by 2 months

  • Able to sit and crawl by 9 months

  • Walking by 12-18 months

  • Riding a tricycle by 3 years


  • Pincer grip by 9 months

  • Able to build a 3 cube tower by 19 months

  • Able to undress self by 2 years

  • Able to use scissors by 4 years


  • First simple words by 9 months

  • Able to follow 1 step commands by 12 months

  • Able to understand “I, me and you” by 2 years

  • Able to speak fluently by 4 years


  • Smiles and recognises loved ones by 2 months

  • Plays games like peek-a-boo by 9 months

  • Plays make-believe games by 3 years

  • Toilet trained by 4 years

What if my child does not meet a milestone?

As mentioned before, all children develop at different rates and some develop slower than others. If your child is slow to meet some milestones, most of the time this will not matter and the child’s development will continue as normal. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and they will track your child’s development more closely.

However, there are some red flags that may indicate that the delay may be because of some underlying medical. In particular, regression of milestones (losing skills that the child once had) is a worrying sign. Because of this, regular check-ups with your doctor and follow-ups are important.

What are some causes of developmental delay?

While most causes of developmental delay are normal and will resolve on their own, there are some medical conditions which can cause a delay in development:

  • Issues during pregnancy (eg Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, infection, prematurity or problems during birth)

  • Genetic disorders (eg Down Syndrome) or metabolic disorders (eg galactosemia)

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Congenital deafness

  • Behavioural disorders (eg autism)

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.

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