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Early Childhood Development Guidelines

It’s never too early to ask questions about your baby’s development! All children develop at different rates. Listed below are some guides to see how your child is developing.

Birth to 4 Months
  • Vary cries to tell you what she needs
  • Coo back and forth in conversation with you
  • Roll from side to back
  • Hold and swipe at objects
  • Smile and laugh when you play
  • Know and prefer your voice


4-8 Months
  • Touch you and her toys to signal for more
  • Recognize names of familiar people, daily routines
  • Roll over in both directions
  • Pick up toys of all sizes
  • Move objects from hand to hand
  • Explore toys
  • Turn and look toward sounds
  • Sit without support


8-12 Months
  • Combine many different sounds
  • Move forward to explore the environment
  • Stand with support
  • Place toys in containers and take them out again
  • Cry and fuss when separating from you


12-18 Months
  • Use a few words to tell you what she wants
  • Make simple choices
  • Walk independently
  • Learn how to make simple things work
  • Place pegs or forms into boards or shape boxes
  • Express many types of emotion with more intensity


18-24 Months
  • Say two-word phrases
  • Climb on the furniture
  • Throw a ball
  • Pretend with dolls and household items
  • Complete simple puzzles and fit toys together
  • Play side by side with other children
  • Show independence through strong emotion


2 Years
  • Combine three to four words in phrases
  • Ask questions
  • Balance on one foot and learn to jump
  • Climb up and down stairs
  • Fit together objects of different sizes and shapes
  • Learn about quantities
  • Act out daily experiences
  • Play with other children of the same age


3 Years
  • Learn many ideas and use new words in short sentences
  • Ask many questions and tell stories
  • Become more coordinated for running, climbing and riding a tricycle
  • Learn about gender and family differences
  • Match colors and shapes
  • Learn to play with other children
  • Learn to solve problems


4 Years
  • Use words to respond to others
  • Use longer sentences in conversations
  • Improve drawing, building and cutting skills
  • Discover about sizes, volumes, shapes and colors
  • Learn to count
  • Participate in dramatic play
  • Play cooperatively with other children
  • Recognize some numbers and letters


5 Years
  • Run, jump, hop, skip and climb with ease
  • Follow three-step directions
  • Recognize her printed name
  • Ask and answer who, what, when, where questions
  • Enjoy games and follow simple rules
  • Understand right and wrong
  • Draw with details


If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development, contact your doctor, your local school district or call
ESU #1 at (402) 287-2061.

Special Education Departments


Questions? Comments? Please email Scott or Tracey.