What are normal milestones?

Neurodevelopmental milestones are largely predictable as children get older although there is a range between different normal children. Delayed milestones are warning signs that neurodevelopment may be abnormal. Children with delayed milestones should be referred for formal neurodevelopmental assessment.

The following milestones should be achieved:

  1. Smile at mother: 8 weeks
  2. Good head control: 6 months
  3. Sit unsupported: 9 months
  4. Crawl well: 12 months
  5. Make babbling noises (‘baby sounds’): 12 months
  6. Stand without help: 15 months
  7. Walk without help: 18 months
  8. Understand simple commands: 24 months
  9. Use one or two words: 36 months

Normally developing children should reach these milestones before (often long before) these cut-off ages.

A number of formal screening tools are used to monitor neurodevelopment. The Denver Developmental Screening Test is commonly used in children from birth to 6 years of age. Language and cognitive development is often screened at school, e.g. ‘IQ’ testing.

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