The aim of this article is to provide a comprehensive look at developmental milestones for 1-year-old children across all areas of development: cognition, motor skills, language and social-emotional skills.


What are developmental milestones?
Motor skills
Social and emotional skills
What if I’m concerned about my child?

Coming soon to this article

In coming weeks, we’ll be adding: parenting tips and resources on how to better support your 1-year-old child’s growth across developmental domains.


Watching your child blow out their first birthday candle is a special moment for any parent. It’s also a time to consider how much your child has grown since coming into this world as a tiny infant. You may find yourself asking: is my child developing normally? Are there any milestones – or behaviors, skills and abilities – that he or she should have developed by now? And, if not, what can I do to better support them – and when does missing milestones become a cause for concern? Fortunately, knowing age-appropriate developmental milestones can provide parents with the insight they need to answer some of these questions.

What are developmental milestones?

Taking tentative first steps is a developmental milestone.

Developmental milestones are skills that children usually reach by a certain age. Developmental milestones can be useful in providing a general idea of what changes to expect as a child grows older. According to the CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it’s vital to remember that children develop at their own pace and so it’s impossible to tell when a child will acquire a specific skill. As a result, parents shouldn’t be too concerned if a child is slightly delayed in reaching a milestone. However, if a child seems to be missing a few milestones or truly seems to be struggling, parents are advised to consult their doctor.

Motor Skills

Learning to sit upright is a motor skill that develops as a child turns one.

Motor skills are defined as the range of abilities required to plan and carry out movements. There are two kinds of motor skills: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. There are a range of activities that can help your child build these skills as they grow.

Gross motor skills

By age 1, children can typically:

  • Move into a sitting position without leaning on anything else or being held up
  • Move from sitting to crawling or lying on their stomach (also known as prone position)
  • Belly crawl, scoot or creep on their hands and knees
  • Pull themselves up to a standing position
  • Walk while holding onto furniture
  • Take two or three steps without support (if they have started walking)

As they reach age 2, children can typically:

  • Stand by themselves and walk while holding someone’s hand
  • Raise their arms and legs to assist caregivers while getting dressed
  • Walk without help
  • Begin walking up the stairs

Fine motor skills

By age 1 and as they approach age 2, children can typically:

  • Use a pincer grip, or grasp objects like Cheerios or raisins using thumb and another finger (usually index)
  • Bang two objects together
  • Put objects into a container and pluck them out again
  • Know how to let go of objects voluntarily
  • Poke objects with an index finger
  • Scribble or try to imitate scribbling
  • Drink from a sippy cup, or a regular cup with assistance
  • Begin using a spoon to eat


Between ages 1 and 2, children can typically:

  • Poke or point at a specific object
  • Explore objects in different ways – by shaking, banging, throwing and dropping
  • Find hidden objects easily
  • Look or point at a correct picture when an image is named
  • Imitate gestures
  • Begin to use objects correctly, like drinking from a cup or brushing their hair
  • Stack two blocks
  • Repeat behaviors that produce a desired effect


By age 1, children can typically:

  • Babble in a way that sounds like talking, using inflection
  • Say “no,” “mama” or “dada” and know other basic words
  • Use exclamations, like “oh-oh!”
  • Use simple gestures to communicate, like shaking their head “no”
  • Understand simple questions, like “where’s your nose?”
  • Follow simple directions, like “pick up the toy” or “stop”
  • Pay attention as people around them are speaking
  • Recognize family members’ names and basic words for common items
  • Respond to simple verbal requests
  • Respond to “no”
  • Try to imitate words

Social and Emotional Skills

Social/emotional developmental milestones include learning to express emotion.

By age 1, children can typically:

  • Express happiness, sadness and frustration with different sounds and cries
  • Smile or laugh in reaction to someone else or when playing
  • Have a mild temper tantrum when frustrated
  • Cry when someone nearby is upset
  • Cry when their mother or father leaves
  • Show fear in some situations
  • Feel comfortable exploring a room when a caregiver is nearby
  • Show affection to familiar people
  • Be shy or anxious with strangers and clingy with caregivers
  • Play games like “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”
  • Imitate people as part of play
  • Test parental responses to their behavior
  • Prefer their mother or regular caregiver in most situations
  • Prefer favorite objects
  • Hand you a book when they want to hear a story

What if I’m concerned about my child?

It’s natural to be vigilant, but it’s important to recognize that children tend to develop at their own pace. However, if you are concerned about your child’s developmental status, there are some signs that your child could be experiencing some difficulties. Pay attention and consider consulting your pediatrician if your child:

  • Doesn’t crawl or drags one side of their body while crawling for an extended period of time
  • Cannot stand when supported
  • Doesn’t search for objects that are hidden while they look on
  • Says no single words like “mama” or “dada”
  • Doesn’t babble with consonant sounds, like “ga” or “ba”
  • Doesn’t learn to use gestures, like shaking their head or waving
  • Doesn’t point to objects
  • Loses skills they once had
  • Falls forward instead of backwards
  • Walks with a limp or an uneven stride
  • Doesn’t enjoy eye contact or cuddles
  • Doesn’t follow simple instructions
  • Doesn’t enjoy pretend play
  • Doesn’t see or hear things clearly
  • Doesn’t notice or appear to mind when you leave or enter a room
  • Doesn’t seem to be gaining new vocabulary
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