Early Childhood Milestones (Ages 2-5)

Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range. Your pediatrician uses milestones to help check how your child is developing. If your child has difficulty in any of the milestones specific for his or her age, ask your pediatrician if therapy might be indicated. Our physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists are dedicated to helping your little one catch up developmentally.

2 Year Developmental Milestones

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Can place 2-3 shapes into puzzle
  • Can place 4 rings on a post (such as a ring stacker)
  • Turns pages of a book one at a time
  • Builds a tower of 6 blocks
  • Imitates a vertical and a circular stroke
  • Can unscrew a jar lid
  • Pinches small food/toy items using pad of index finger and thumb (finger and thumb forming a circle while pinching)
  • Holds a crayon using thumb and all fingers with thumb turned down towards paper
  • Cuts snips in paper using dull scissors
  • Uses a fork

Communication Skills:

  • Understands simple questions and commands
  • Identifies body parts
  • Refers to self by name
  • Asks for drink, toilet, food
  • Uses 2-3 word sentences

Self Help Skills:

  • Puts on simple clothing items such as hats, t-shirts, or pants with an elastic waist
  • Spoon feeds without excessive spillage
  • Drinks from open mouth cup with little spillage
  • Feeds self with utensils
  • Undresses self with help on buttons

Gross Motor Skills By 2.5 Years:

  • Walks backward 10 steps
  • Walks on all types of surfaces
  • Tiptoes
  • Runs 5-10 steps without falling
  • Walks up and down stairs holding one rail

3 Year Developmental Milestones

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Can stack at least 10 blocks
  • Can cut across a piece of paper using scissors
  • Copies age appropriate shapes such as a circle and a square
  • Holds pencil with fingertips
  • Can string 4 large beads
  • Can draw intersecting lines (+)
  • Laces 3 holes in a lacing card following directions

Communication Skills:

  • Can match primary colors, names one color
  • Whispers and sings
  • Understands “yesterday,” “summer,” “lunchtime,” “little/big”
  • Frequently practices by talking to him/herself
  • Begins to obey prepositional phrases like “put the block under the chair”
  • Can tell a story or relay an idea to someone
  • Knows last name, sex, name of home street, nursery rhymes
  • Uses 3-4 word sentences
  • May repeat sounds, words, and phrases
  • Expresses fatigue verbally

Self Help Skills:

  • Uses feeding utensils well
  • Washes and dries own hands
  • Opens doors
  • Pours well from a pitcher
  • Dresses and undresses self but may need help with buttons or zippers
  • Can use potty chair or toilet

Gross Motor Skills:

  • Walks 5 steps on tiptoes with hands on hips or carrying an object with both hands
  • Walks up and down stairs without holding rail
  • Jumps off floor with both feet

Gross Motor Skills by 3.5 Years:

  • Runs with some periods of flight (both feet off ground)
  • Hops once in place on one foot
  • Walks up 10 steps, right, left, right, left, without holding rail
  • Jumps over an 8” hurdle

4 Year Developmental Milestones

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Can use scissors to cut on a line
  • Can hold paper with one hand while writing with the opposite hand
  • Can fold a sheet of paper
  • Can copy age appropriate shapes of intersecting lines (+) and triangles
  • Can identify common objects by touch only

Communication Skills:

  • Points to colors red, blue, yellow, and green
  • Can speak of imaginary conditions such as “what if…”
  • Uses 4-8 word sentences
  • Uses past tense correctly
  • Stays with one activity for more than 10 minutes

Self Help Skills:

  • Can unbutton clothing without any assistance
  • Can button 1 or 2 buttons
  • Performs toileting needs independently
  • Washes and dries hands independently
  • Serves self food without assistance

Gross Motor Skills:

  • Skips 5 steps
  • Hops up to 3 times on preferred foot
  • Jumps rope for 2 cycles
  • Jumps over several 8” obstacles in succession
  • Jumps from 24”-30” height with feet together on take-off and landing
  • Stands on either leg for 6 seconds
  • Kicks a ball 12’-15’
  • Throws 3” ball to an adult, overhand
  • Catches 3” ball with elbows bent

Gross Motor Skills by 4.5 Years:

  • Skips 5-10 steps, with coordinated step-hop
  • Runs fast
  • Hops 5 times on preferred foot
  • Walks down stairs, right, left, right, left, holding rail
  • Does 1 somersault
  • Walks full length of balance beam/curb
  • Pumps swing independently
  • Runs with some periods of flight (both feet off ground)
  • Hops once in place on one foot

5 Year Developmental Milestones

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Can touch each finger to thumb within 8 seconds following demonstration, starting with index finger to thumb
  • Connects 2 dots with a straight line
  • Draws a 6 part person
  • Cuts and pastes shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles
  • Can build a 6 cube pyramid with example in front of him/her
  • Can fold paper into equal halves
  • Colors between two vertical lines
  • Writes name with no model
  • Can copy age appropriate shapes of diagonal lines and diamonds
  • Completes ABC puzzle
  • Displays hand dominance

Communication Skills:

  • Has correct articulation of speech sounds
  • Uses past tense and future tense appropriately
  • Understands the meanings of most sentences
  • Follows 3-part commands (“pick up your shoes, put them in your room, and come sit down”)
  • Knows the meaning of “today,” “yesterday,” and “tomorrow”Asks “What?,” “Why?,” and “How?”
  • Names days of the week in order and can count to 30
  • Tells month and day of birthday, name and address, left and right

Gross Motor Skills:

  • Skips 10 or more steps
  • Stands on one leg for 10 seconds each
  • Walks full length of balance beam while carrying something in both hands or with hands on hips
  • Does 2 somersaults in a row
  • Rides bicycle with training wheels


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