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A Quick Guide to Milestones

The first 2,000 days of a child's life are marked by rapid growth and developmental milestones. One thing that remains constant is the excitement of watching your little one hit those early milestones.  


In this quick guide, we break down milestones, why they matter, and the key moments of growth in the first five years of your child's life.  


What Are Milestones? 

Milestones are like the tiny victory flags your child plants on their developmental journey. These are the skills and behaviors they pick up along the way, showing they're growing, learning, and becoming their own little person. From the first giggle to the first steps, each milestone is a small but significant win. 


Why Do They Matter? 

Understanding milestones isn't just about checking boxes, it's about decoding your child's unique language of growth. Every smile, babble, and clumsy step is a sign that their brain and body are developing. It's your front-row ticket to witnessing the incredible transformation from a tiny, squishy baby to a walking, talking bundle of personality. Embracing these moments helps you support and celebrate your child's individual journey. 


Types of Milestones

Baby crawling on hands and knees towards dad.

Let's break it down into three main categories.


Infancy (0-12 months): From lifting their head to that first roll, these early skills lay the foundation for more movement. 

Toddlerhood (1-3 years): Watch as your little one goes from wobbly first steps to running, jumping and exploring their world. 

Preschool (3-5 years): Fine motor skills take the stage – think drawing, building towers and mastering the art of buttons and zippers. 


Cognitive Skills

Infancy: Peek-a-boo becomes a mind-blowing game, and your baby starts recognizing familiar faces. 

Toddlerhood: Language development takes off, and problem-solving skills start. 

Preschool: Counting, sorting and imaginative play become the playground for growing minds. 


Social and Emotional Skills

Infancy: Bonding with caregivers, showing joy or frustration, and building their first emotional connections are all signs of progress. 

Toddlerhood: The journey of sharing toys, expressing emotions through words and forming early friendships begins. 

Preschool: Developing empathy, understanding emotions in others and thriving in a social setting are markers of strong development. 


Hot Tip: Talk with your pediatrician about your child’s progress. Need access to a free pediatrician? Check out this resource.


Key Milestones at Each Stage

Mom reading with child.

First Year: The Journey Begins 

  • Smiles and coos 

  • Rolling over 

  • First solid foods 

  • Sitting independently 

  • Crawling 


Toddlerhood: The Adventure Gets Interesting 

  • First steps 

  • Simple words and phrases 

  • Potty training 

  • Beginning to scribble 

  • Exploring with curiosity 


Preschool Years: Little Learners Arrive 

  • Counting and basic math  

  • Imaginative play 

  • Independence in dressing 

  • Following simple instructions 

  • Engaging in play with others 


Before the Bell Resources:  


The Journey Continues 

Parenting is filled with joy, challenges and countless memories. By understanding and appreciating the milestones your child achieves, you're not just witnessing their growth – you're actively participating in it. So, buckle up, enjoy the ride, and celebrate each little victory on this incredible adventure. You've got this! 


Need more information on milestones? This milestone map can help. 



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