Development Milestones

You are the best judge on what is going on for your child.  Milestones are only a guide as all babies develop at a different rate. Only be concerned if you’re seeing delays in a few different areas over several months.Try to resist the temptation to compare your baby with others, because this can lead to unnecessary worry. All babies are individuals!

As a general guide, though, seek help if you notice your baby:

  • doesn’t consistently respond to sounds
  • doesn’t seem to see things, has white or cloudy pupils, or there’s something about their eyes that bothers you
  • doesn’t look at you
  • isn’t interested in what’s going on around her
  • doesn’t move or use both arms and/or legs
  • has an unusual cry (for example, a high-pitched squeal)
  • is persistently crying for more than about three hours every day (babies cry on average for about two hours a day, peaking between 6-8 weeks), especially after 3-4 months
  • can’t hold his head up by the time he’s reached 3-4 months
  • isn’t sitting well by 10 months
  • doesn’t want to bear her own weight by 12 months.

Remember, each child’s rate of development is Individual

Watch the following video to see some parent stories that show how baby development occurs at different rates. Parents should resist the urge to be competitive about baby development!

Your child’s growth and development is monitored in a number of ways: checking your child’s milestones and filling in the health check questionnaires (blue book), by a health professional examining your child at regular scheduled health checks and through some screening checks. Children should be examined by a  health professional at:

  • Birth
  • 1 to 4 weeks
  • 6 to 8 weeks
  • 6 months
  • 12 months
  • 18 months
  • 2 years
  • 3 years
  • 4 years

Be sure to take your child to visit your nurse or doctor at these ages. These are the minimum number of visits – if you have any concerns about your baby’s growth and development, you should consult your doctor or child and family health nurse about your concerns.

Health Checks at Child and Family Health Centres

Your local Child and Family Health Centre is a place to free checkups from a qualified Child and Family Health nurse. To find your nearest centre, contact Healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.

HealthDirect logo

For a guide to milestones, select one of the age groups below. For more detail, see the Raising Children’s Network development guidelines on newbornsbabies and toddlers.

For a guide to the growth that you can expect from your baby, refer to “My First Health Record', often called the “Blue Book'. This is a blue folder that would have been presented to you shortly after the birth of your baby (if this was in New South Wales). It has charts that show the typical measurements for children at different ages.

If you are concerned at all, talk to your child and family health nurse or family doctor.



(0-3 months)

At birth:

  • Babies can’t support their head unaided.
  • They close their hands involuntarily in the grasp reflex
  • They startle at sudden loud noises.

At four weeks:

  • Babies can focus on a face
  • Might respond to a noise in some way (startling, crying, going quiet).
  • They can fix and follow an object moved across their line of vision.

At six weeks:

  • Babies might start to smile at familiar faces.
  • They start to coo.

At 12 weeks:

  • Babies can lie on their tummies with their heads held up looking around

(3-6 months)

4 months:

By four months, your baby can:

Lift their head up when lying on their tummy.

Laugh out loud.

Follow an object moved above the face from one side to the other.

6 months:

  • Keep their head level with their body when pulled to a sitting position.
  • Make lots of babbling, laughing and squealing sounds.

(Adapted from “Baby development: in a nutshell�? Raising Children Network)

(6-12 months)

9 months:

  • Sit by themselves.
  • Move from a lying to sitting position.
  • Try to get a toy that is out of reach.
  • Look for a familiar person or object.

(Adapted from “Baby development: in a nutshell�? Raising Children Network)

12 months:

  • Pull up to standing position.
  • Get into a sitting position.
  • Cruise (move from place to place, always holding on).
  • Clap hands (play pat-a-cake) and wave bye-bye.
  • Indicate wants in ways other than crying.
  • Respond to their own names most of the time.
  • Look where you point when you say, ‘Look at the …’
  • Say dada and mama appropriately.
  • Say at least one word.
  • Point to things they want.
  • Babble with changes in tone and pitch of voice.
  • Take turns ‘talking’ with you.

(Adapted from “Toddler development: in a nutshell�? Raising Children Network)

(12+ months)

18 months:

  • be able to walk unaided
  • be able to use 2 to 5 single words
  • drink from a cup
  • point to body parts
  • point to interesting objects to ‘share’ them with you
  • bring things to show you
  • point to objects so you will name them.

 (Adapted from “Toddler development: in a nutshell�? Raising Children Network)

2 years:

  • Take off an article of clothing
  • ‘Feed’ a doll
  • Build a tower of four cubes
  • Identify two items in a picture by pointing.

(Adapted from “Toddler development: in a nutshell�? Raising Child

3 years:

  • identify four pictures by naming
  • wash and dry hands
  • identify a friend by naming
  • throw and kick a ball
  • speak and be understood half the time
  • carry on a conversation of two or three sentences
  • use prepositions (by, to, in, on top of)
  • jumps with 2 feet.

(Adapted from the Toddler development: in a nutshell Raising Children Network)