Early Childhood Development Checklists

Written by karl wallulis
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Early Childhood Development Checklists
The expected age for learning to stand without support is 8 to 10 months. (Baby learning to walk image by Phattman from Fotolia.com)

Early childhood is marked by dozens of important developmental milestones. To track their child's progress and spot any potential problems in their early stages, many parents refer to childhood development checklists to verify that their child is reaching critical milestones in the normal time period and order. These checklists are usually organised under five categories -- motor, looking, language, cognitive, and social/emotional.

Motor Skills

By six months, infants can typically grasp their feet, transfer objects from hand to hand, and roll from front to back and back to front. From eight to twelve months, infants learn to move to the sitting position without assistance, grasp with their thumb and index finger and stand momentarily without support.

Starting at age one, children begin to walk without assistance and then to walk up and down stairs. At this age they also begin to scribble spontaneously. From age two to three, children learn complex motor skills such as riding a tricycle, running and jumping. By age five, children are typically able to stand on one foot for ten seconds and hop, skip and do somersaults.


The development of looking behaviour begins shortly after birth as healthy infants quickly learn to distinguish human faces from other visual stimuli and follow moving objects by three months. Hand-eye coordination usually begins to develop at this time as well.

By six months, most infants can track moving objects without any problem, grasp at toys dangled in front of them and look for fallen toys and objects beyond their tracking range.


Infants are able to identify language at birth and can identify specific voices by three months. They also begin babbling and cooing around three months of age. Between four and seven months, infants start to detect emotions by tone of voice and respond to sounds with sounds of their own. By one year, they can respond to simple speech such as "no" and babble with inflection.

From one to two years, children's vocabulary expands exponentially as they learn the names of things and begin to use two-word sentence and follow simple instructions. By three years, children have learnt to use pronouns and understand spatial cues such as "on" and "under." They can use four- to five-word sentences intelligible to strangers. By age five, children can use the future tense, tell stories and recall parts of stories.


Infants' cognitive development begins at about six months as they learn to explore with their hands and mouths and search for the hidden parts of obscured objects. By one year, they should be able to find hidden objects easily, look at the correct picture when an image is named and use objects correctly.

During their toddler years (20-24 months), children develop cognitive skills such as make-believe play and sorting shapes and colours. By preschool age, most children can complete puzzles with four or five pieces and make mechanical toys work. By the end of kindergarten, children can count up to ten objects, name four colours and understand the concept of time.

Social and Emotional

Social and emotional development begins with the development of the social smile between one and three months. Infants become more communicative with their face at this time as well. By six months, infants enjoy social play and are interested in their mirror images. By one year, children begin to imitate during play and show preferences for certain people or toys.

Temper tantrums begin during the second year, as does defiant behaviour and independence. By three years, children have learnt to take turns during games and show affection toward their friends. In their fourth and fifth years, children begin to engage in elaborate fantasy play and desire to be more like their parents or friends.

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