This FREE Developmental Milestone Checklist Is A Game Changer

By  Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated - 29 January 2021

Welcome to the wonderful world of child development and developmental milestone checklist!

In this post I am going to share with you what on earth you should be looking out for with child development, what the KEY areas of child development are and EXACTLY why you NEED a development checklist in your life.

(Phew! That's a lot of development to cover!)

Ready to get going? 

Great! Let's dive right into it with...

Free Developmental Milestone Checklist

What are developmental Milestone checklists?

Children develop more rapidly in the early years than at any other time in their lives. 

So having an observation checklist for child development during this period can be of huge help to parents and carers.

A good developmental chart covers all the developmental areas for early years development in an easy to understand format. 

They essentially allow YOU to keep an eye on how their little one is progressing across the board.

Why are developmental checklists important?

Developmental milestone checklists are a handy way to keep an eye on how your little one is doing emotionally, socially and physically in the key areas of development. 

They can also prompt you to make sure you are offering your child all the necessary learning opportunities, to cover all aspects of their healthy development.

While all children are individuals and will develop at slightly different rates in different developmental areas, most children achieve their milestones within a certain sequence and age range. 

This makes developmental milestone checklists a reliable resource when it comes to charting how your child is doing in the early years.

Some feel that a developmental milestone checklist can make parents over-anxious. 

However, I feel the benefits far outweigh the cons. 

Being able to spot if your child is in need of some extra help in any developmental area is so useful. As it is proven that if a developmental issue is spotted early on and extra help is given, the better the outcome is.

Knowing what to look for is KEY in assessing how your child is developing. 

Therefore, having a checklist to refer to can give you peace of mind that your little one is reaching all their important developmental milestones. It also helps you know what to expect at what age!

get the FREE Milestone Checklist That Reveals The Hidden World Of Child Development Today!

Eliminate the worry that comes with your baby's development by keeping your child on track or catching potential delays early with key milestones from birth to preschool.

 All with expert advice from a prestigious Norland trained Nanny!

What are the typical developmental milestones?

So, what are baby milestones? 

Some are more obvious than others, such as your baby’s first smile, first step and first word. 

Others can be more subtle such as the development of your baby’s early sight or how they react to sounds. 

These are just as important but less obvious unless you know what to expect or look for.

For many parents, the most typical milestones are when their baby learns to sit, crawl, walk and talk. 

Essentially, baby development milestones are the typical stages of development your child should achieve within a specific age range across the 5 major developmental areas.

Check out my Child Development post for a more in depth read about baby and child development! 

How do you assess developmental milestones?

Developmental milestones are things that most children can achieve within a certain age range. 

Therefore, when assessing a milestone, it is important to know the age range in which that particular skill can be expected to be achieved. 

Milestones are usually achieved in order and naturally follow on from each other. 

However, it is important to remember that children are known to develop at different rates due to environmental and genetic influences.

This means that the age ranges in which a milestone is achieved, can vary quite widely depending on the skill… I will explain more about this further down the article!

Knowing what developmental opportunities to offer your child is also important as some skills will not just happen automatically without the correct nurturing environment. 

Let me repeat that… 

Some skills will not just happen automatically without the correct nurturing environment.

This is why having a developmental milestone checklist is so crucial to parents. It gives you the knowledge to understand how your child develops and ensures that you know what to look out for and how to help them get there.

Not only will you be able to know what’s coming, you will be able to offer your little one the appropriate learning opportunities through activities and toys designed to help them achieve those specific milestones.

What are the 5 developmental stages? 

1. Social & Emotional

This area of development involves your child's ability to interact with others and deal with their own emotions. 

It covers areas like:

  • Learning to share
  • Learning how their behaviour affects others
  • Learning how to control their temper 
  • Dealing with frustration
  • Learning to have empathy

From when your baby first smiles or waves bye-bye, to throwing a temper tantrum, your little one is developing socially and emotionally. 

They are learning which behaviour gets a positive reaction and which do not. 

They begin to learn how to express their feelings in an acceptable manner and to care about the feelings of others.

We, as parents and carers, can help our children's social and emotional development by leading by example and modelling good behaviour. 

Reinforcing and encouraging good behaviour is also vital. 

Reinforcement helps children understand which behaviours are worthy of praise and this makes them feel good about themselves and boosts their self-esteem.

During the toddler years, helping your little one deal with frustration is KEY. 

With newfound independence and the ability to physically do so much more, they will push boundaries and become easily frustrated or furious. 

These situations often result in temper tantrums and rapid swings in character, all of which is quite normal behaviour but may require some special handling.

Parents can help their children in all these areas of social and emotional development if they know what can be expected of their little one at what age. 

A developmental milestone checklist, for example, will let you know when the time is right to start talking to your little one about their emotions - which can lead to teaching them empathy towards others. 

Also, knowing when they are mature enough to learn about sharing & cooperating when playing, is another important step for young children on their emotional and social journey.

Out of all the areas of development, social and emotional has the most lasting impact on your child's life. 

Knowing what to expect of your child and how to nurture healthy emotional and social skills is therefore hugely important for your little one's development.

2. Cognitive

Cognitive development focuses quite simply on the ability to explore and understand the world around them. 

This includes, among other things:

  • Solving problems
  • Learning cause and effect
  • Searching and finding 

Watching your baby develop cognitively is FASCINATING. 

As they explore their new world, you will be amazed at how quickly they discover new skills and can work out ever more complex problem-solving. 

At no other time in our lives is the human brain more exposed to so much cognitive learning.

Again, knowing what cognitive skills your baby should be able to achieve at any given age in the early years, will mean that you can offer them the correct toys and situations in which to flourish in this area.

A developmental milestone checklist will help you ensure that you can provide age-appropriate activities and opportunities for your little one. 

It is VITAL that you praise your child’s cognitive efforts and encourage them to explore more and more. 

The world is a fascinating place and the options for teaching your child about it are boundless.

From messy play to jigsaw puzzles and shape sorters, to playing with a ball to knocking down a pile of building blocks, there are always cognitive lessons to be learnt. Outdoor activities, especially, are amazing for development of all sorts!

3. Language and communication

Being able to listen, understand and communicate are the cornerstones of our society. 

It is vital, therefore, that we help our children to develop fully in this area for them to have meaningful relationships, be able to express their feelings and do well at school.

During the first three years of life, children undergo the most intensive period for learning speech and language skills. 

By the time they are 4 years old, your child will have acquired the ability to understand about 8000 words and speak about 2300 words. 

To put that into perspective… Your average native speaker adult knows 20,000-30,000 words. That means your child has learnt almost 1/3rd of their vocabulary during the first 4 years of their life! 

Isn’t that AMAZING?!

Therefore, it is hugely important that in the early years’ young children are offered plenty of opportunities to experience language and sounds.

Young children develop the ability to understand and comprehend long before they can use language. 

It is thought that there are certain times in early development when the brain is more receptive to language and sound too. 

Therefore, as parents, we should definitely be making the most of this developmental opportunity.

As always, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of talking and listening to your children. 

There are so many ways to communicate with your baby and toddler that are fun, creative and beneficial to their language and communication skills. These range from:

  • Reading books 
  • Imitating animal sounds
  • Singing nursery rhymes 
  • Singing songs
  • Chatting as you go about your daily activities.

From the moment your baby is born, they are focused on you and the sound of your voice. 

This is where their language journey begins! 

You will notice very soon that they will start to coo back at you and if you respond and then wait, they will begin to learn the art of taking turns to speak in conversation. 

As they grow, every word you speak to your child, every song that you sing and every book that you read is taken in and processed long before they have the ability to speak words back to you. 

Let me say that again…

Every word you speak to your child, every song that you sing and every book that you read is taken in and processed long before they have the ability to speak words back to you.

Even if you little one does not talk back to you just yet, know that they are taking in everything you share with them!

So, as you count their toes, tell them the colour of the bricks they are playing with or point out the ducks on the pond, their brain is absorbing it all at a rate that will never again be repeated in their lifetime. 

Make the most of these early years with a developmental milestone checklist!

get the FREE Milestone Checklist That Reveals The Hidden World Of Child Development Today!

Eliminate the worry that comes with your baby's development by keeping your child on track or catching potential delays early with key milestones from birth to preschool.

 All with expert advice from a prestigious Norland trained Nanny!

4. Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skill development covers the larger muscles of the body involved in skills such as walking, running, kicking, lifting and throwing. 

It is the development of these muscles that enable your little one to develop the following skills:

  • Lifting their head
  • Learning to sit
  • Crawling 
  • Walking 
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Throwing
  • Catching
  • Skipping
  • Climbing

Gross motor skill development starts long before your baby is mobile. 

For instance, you will be aware very quickly how important tummy time is for you little one and this is really the first gross motor skill activity that your baby will need to do. 

This will successfully start them on the road to healthy gross motor skill development down the line!

Gross motor skills make sure that your little one is building up those muscles necessary for sitting & walking and that is where a developmental checklist comes in.

Knowing what milestones your little one should reach on their journey to being mobile will help you offer the right opportunities for your little one to develop the correct muscles needed.

5. Fine Motor Skills

The development of fine motor skills involves the use of smaller muscle groups involved in finer movements that involve your little one’s fingers, hands and wrists.

Your child's fine motor skills will allow them to become more independent as they learn the art of self-care such as getting dressed and undressed, cleaning teeth and feeding themselves. 

Equally important is the fact that fine motor skills are essential for your child being able to draw and write later on.

Unlike gross motor skills, you will see evidence of your baby’s fine motor skills as early as 1-2 months of age. 

As they learn to reach and grasp objects and take them to their mouth they will be refining their fine motor skills every day.

The most important fine motor skills that your little one needs in the early years are:

  • Palmar arches which allow the palms to curl inwards. This is the way your baby will grasp objects initially. The importance of this action is that it strengthens the fingers which are needed for dressing, undressing and later on writing.
  • Pincer grasping where the thumb and finger are used for precision grasping for picking up finer objects.
  • Bilateral hand skills such as clapping where the hands work in coordination.
  • Scissor skills that develop usually by 4 years of age which strengthen hand muscles and develop hand-eye coordination.

There are so many important skills that your little one needs and these skills will impact hugely on their ability to explore the world around them and their ability to flourish and learn at school.

Fine motor skills are needed for the following life and learning skills:

  • Using construction toys like lego, puzzles and shape sorters
  • Feeding using a spoon, knife and fork and eating finger foods
  • Reading a book and turning the pages
  • Cleaning teeth, washing and brushing hair
  • Getting dressed and undressed
  • Doing craft activities such as painting, drawing, glueing and cutting
  • Writing

It is important to note that, although, hand-eye coordination is classed as a gross motor skill, there is often a cross over with fine motor skills with activities such as:

  • Catching a ball
  • Skipping with a rope
  • Building blocks
  • Threading and lacing

What is the most important age for child development?

There is NO DOUBT that the first 5 years of your child’s life are the most important.

During this time, offering your little one all the necessary developmental opportunities is CRUCIAL.

Children’s brains develop over time but it is widely accepted that the important foundation skills are learnt in the early years. 

Parental interaction is vitally important during this time as is knowing what milestones your little one should be reaching.

Having a developmental milestone checklist that covers the early years will be a great guideline for you to ensure you are offering all the right developmental opportunities to your little one to make sure they're on the right track!

Check out my Child Development post for a more in depth read about baby and child development! 

Do babies develop at different rates?

As all children are individuals they will develop at different rates, reaching milestones at slightly different times. 

However, they usually develop skills in the same sequence within a recognised age range.

It is important that you do not compare your child’s development with those of other children.

I will say it again! DO NOT compare your child’s development to anyone else. 

You know your child best and if you are at all concerned about your little one’s development then always check with a healthcare professional to put your mind at rest. 

Free PRINTABLE Developmental Milestone Checklist

My FREE developmental milestone checklist is an excellent and comprehensive resource for keeping an eye on where your child is on their developmental journey, from birth to preschool years. 

It covers all the developmental areas for each age group in an easy to refer to tick off list.

By breaking down the developmental milestones into the key developmental areas you can keep an accurate record of which areas your little one may need a bit more encouragement.

As a mother myself, I know that there is SO MUCH to think about when raising your little one, and so having a handy reference with regard to healthy development is a GAMECHANGER. 

Having a place where you can put pictures of their milestone achievements means that you can look back at their developmental journey with them when they are a little older too.

Preschoolers, especially, will LOVE to look back at pictures of themselves when they were younger!

I have also included some key developmental journeys such as speech and comprehension, learning colours and shapes as well as ball skills and learning to get dressed. 

These are milestone indicators that pediatricians use to get a gauge of how your little one is developing. So now you can track every stage of development from home too!

This is a one-stop developmental milestone checklist that covers all the key elements that you need to monitor when tracking your child’s development in the early years.

get the FREE Milestone Checklist That Reveals The Hidden World Of Child Development Today!

Eliminate the worry that comes with your baby's development by keeping your child on track or catching potential delays early with key milestones from birth to preschool.

 All with expert advice from a prestigious Norland trained Nanny!

Just For Fun Baby’s First Year Milestones PRINTOUT!

For first time mums, here is a cute print out for your baby's first year milestones!

Click to open FULL SIZE -->

first year milestones

My Top Development Tips:

When it comes to offering your little one the best developmental opportunities from birth to the preschool years, there are some key things that you can do to ensure you are creating the best learning and nurturing environment.

  • Praise, encourage and support.

Offering praise, encouragement and support is key to your child’s healthy development.

Gently encouraging them to learn new skills and offering them the best opportunities to do so is vitally important.

  • Show them you love them

It is important to show your little one that you love them. This will give them a strong sense of self and in turn, they will flourish developmentally.

  •  Show interest and be engaged

Be engaged with your little one from birth and take an interest in what they are doing.

Include them in everyday activities too as they can learn so much about their world by being involved in what you are doing.

  • Offer a safe learning environment 

Make sure your little one has a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn and develop to their full potential. 

  • Offer age-appropriate opportunities

Offering your little one age-appropriate development toys and activities will ensure that they flourish across the developmental spectrum

  • Ensure your little one has enough sleep

Making sure your little one has age-appropriate sleep can have an impact on their development too.

A well-rested child is far more able to focus on new activities and take on new challenges than one that is irritated due to a lack of sleep.

Therefore, establishing a healthy sleep schedule and bedtime routine from an early age is beneficial to your child’s overall development.

  • Nourish

Ensuring your child is well nourished will mean that their physical and mental development will flourish.

  • Talk

Talking to your little one helps them develop on every level but ESPECIALLY in language.

Language is key to being able to communicate and comprehend the world around them. It is the key to all learning to come.

  • Lead by example - you are your child’s best teacher!

Showing your little one how to do things is especially important for emotional and social development.

They will learn from you how to show compassion for others, how to share, deal with frustration and disappointment to mention a few. 

  • Educate yourself 

A developmental milestone checklist is a great way to educate yourself when it comes to your child’s development.

Making sure you are well informed in all areas of development means that you will know what developmental opportunities to offer and when.

It will also mean that you can keep a close eye on how your child is doing and know what to expect at every stage and in every area.

get the FREE Milestone Checklist That Reveals The Hidden World Of Child Development Today!

Eliminate the worry that comes with your baby's development by keeping your child on track or catching potential delays early with key milestones from birth to preschool.

 All with expert advice from a prestigious Norland trained Nanny!

Did you enjoy this post today?

What will you be doing with your little one to help them develop? Click above to download my FREE Developmental Milestone Checklist to get started today!

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PS: If you made it this far, welcome to the dedicated readers section! Be sure to keep an eye on this secret section... I have some amazing things coming your way!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula Mclaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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