Developmental Milestones

Posted by

Alicia Amsberry, PT, DPT

Time to read

2 minutes

A developmental milestone is an acquired skill a child learns at a specific time in the development process. A child will develop skills before developing new skills; ultimately a child will learn new skills to build on the last milestone developed. 

To monitor a child’s developmental milestones, a child’s development is broken down into five main areas:

    1. Physical Development:
      • Gross Motor Skills – movements related to large muscle groups, such as arms, legs, and trunk
      • Fine Motor Skills – movements coordinated by the hands and fingers in order to complete small tasks 
    2. Cognitive Development: reasoning, thinking, problem-solving, learning, understanding and remembering 
    3. Sensory Development: reaction and recognition of smells, sounds, sights, and textures; interaction with the environment 
    4. Language Development: communicating, using body language and gestures, speaking, and understanding what others say
    5. Social and Emotional Development: 
      • Social Development – interacting with others; responding to the feelings of others
      • Emotional Development – understanding one’s own feelings and appropriate ways to express them; feelings and emotional responses to events

Developmental milestones should be reached within a certain time frame, in order for children to reach their full potential. Children will acquire new skills through their own learning and experiences and will develop at their own rate. 

A delay in one developmental milestone or a short-lived delay is not cause for too much concern.  When a child does not meet multiple milestones, there may be a more global issue present.  The lack of skill development may suggest a broader problem and the baby may need to receive assistance or help to achieve those milestones.  


Stay tuned for more information regarding developmental delay. Next week we will cover physical development in more detail, include a suggested timeline for when milestones should be reached, and provide information on what to do if your child is not meeting his/her developmental milestones.


Photos: Canva, Alicia Amsberry