Understanding developmental milestones

From making babbling sounds to wiggling toes, taking note of development progress as your child grows means you can ensure they have the support they need.

Developmental milestones are signs of development (physical changes or behaviours), achieved by children at various ages. These include rolling over, walking and talking.

Most children reach their milestones in the same order and around the same age as other children, though some children may develop slower than others. Until a cause of delay is identified, this is called developmental delay. Children with developmental delay continue to learn, but take longer to acquire new skills.

No two children are the same and each child will grow and develop in their own way. Watch your child’s progress with an open mind; however you know your child better than anyone else and if you’re worried about their progress, you can talk to your local child health centre or family doctor.

Hearing milestones

Hearing milestones for a typically developing baby

Birth to 4 months Noises are good or bad-

Babies should startle at loud noises and move their head or eyes to the source of the sound. If your baby is upset, they should soothe to the sound of your voice.

4-8 months Babbling bubs-

Babies should notice sounds around them, smile when spoken to babble and start to understand simple words, like ‘bye-bye’.

8-14 months Who am I?-

Babies should respond to their name, say simple words like ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, copy simple sounds and use their voice to get attention.

14-24 months Making meanings-

Children start to develop vocabulary, understand and follow simple instructions and put words together.


Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a physical disability that makes it hard for children to control their muscles and movements. Each child will have different symptoms, which may present in babies as:

  • problems feeding
  • slow development (in holding their heads up, or sitting)
  • unequal movements
  • poor muscle control or low muscle tone
  • muscle spasms or stiffness when you try to move their joints.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a condition where the brain has not developed in a certain way. It is diagnosed based on a child not reaching certain age-based developmental milestones, due to a lack of other physical characteristics.

Children with ASD often prefer routines, may show a narrow range of interests and a lack of interest in other people. For example, babies  who are later diagnosed with ASD often will look at their parents while being held or during nappy changes. While it may take children with ASD longer to learn language, they often show impressive skills in other areas.

Getting a check-up

If you are concerned about your child’s development, you can contact your local child health centre or family doctor for a check-up.

They may then refer you for more specialised testing by other healthcare professionals, but remember, you can continue to ask questions along the way to make sure you feel informed and understand what is happening and what this means for you and your child.

Image Child drawing a picture, drawing and other craft and puzzle games develop fine motor skills

Published — 31 August 2016 Last updated — 04 November 2016