Children usually progress in a natural, predictable
sequence from one developmental milestone to the next. But each child grows and
gains skills at his or her own pace. Some children may be advanced in one area,
such as language, but behind in another, such as sensory and motor
Milestones usually are categorized into five major
areas: physical growth, cognitive development, emotional and social
development, language development, and sensory and motor development.
Physical growth and development
Most children by age
Have gained about
4.4 lb (2 kg) and grown about
3 in. (8 cm) since their second
Begin to look leaner as their prominent belly gradually
To see the high and low percentiles for normal weight and growth, go to www.cdc.gov/growthcharts.
Thinking and reasoning (cognitive development)
children by age 3:
Know their own name, age, and
Follow 2- to 3-step instructions, such as "pick up your
doll and put it on your bed next to the teddy bear."
concept of "two." For example, they understand when they have two cookies
rather than one. But they usually aren't yet able to understand the concept of
Memorize a string of numbers rather than actually
count. The same is true of the alphabet. A child may say the letters from
memory but may not be able to recognize a written letter singled out from the
others. But some 3-year-olds show great interest in and ability with numbers,
counting, and the alphabet.
Enjoy working with puzzles that have 3
or 4 pieces. Most children can also sort objects by shape and
Have active imaginations and a rich fantasy life. For
example, they may imagine that their toys or stuffed animals can talk and play
Emotional and social development
Most children by
Experience a wide range of
Separate easily from their parents.
affection openly. They may show affection for familiar playmates
Understand the concept of "mine" and "yours." They
may have trouble sharing toys at times or have conflicts when playing with
Can identify a person as a boy or girl. But they do not yet
fully understand the distinctions between genders.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.