Child development milestones: Child playing

When your child turns 1, you should begin to observe some key developments from your child. Hence, your child might be taking more steps independently or starting to learn their first few words. These are signs or indicators of growth or more commonly referred to as child development milestones. These milestones are simply physical skills or behaviors that we notice our children acquire as they grow and develop. Doctors use these acquired skills and traits as a tracker to tell if your toddler’s growth is on track.1 Therefore, as parents it is important to take note of these developments or lack thereof.

When assessing the developmental milestone of a child, the doctor will assess them according to 4 main domains namely the gross motor, fine motor, speech and language and social behaviour.2 Here are some key child development milestones after your child turns one:

Child Development Milestones Indicator #1: Physical Milestones

Firstly, you’ll likely notice huge developments from your child in this department. Your child can start walking independently.

As your child grows, you will see them go through child development milestones, like the refinement of their gross motor and fine motor skills.3 Motor skills are important because they help your child explore and interact with the world at large.

Here are some key physical indicators to observe:

Child Development Milestones Indicator #2: Gross motor skills

Here’s what you should observe in your child for gross motor skills as part of child development milestones:

  • Gets from lying to sitting to standing

  • Sit up at the table4

  • Cruising around furniture

Child Development Milestones Indicator #3: Fine motor skills and visual perception

As part of child development milestones for fine motor skills and visual perception, here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Neat or mature pincer grasp.

  • When given toys such as cubes, they will bang the cubes together.

  • Points with finger towards object of interest.

  • Drops and throws toys forwards deliberately and watches them fall to ground. Looks in the correct place for toys which fall out of sight.

  • Recognizes familiar people approaching from a distance.

  • Shows interest in pictures.

Child Development Milestones Indicator #4: Speech and Communication

Language and communication are cognitive processes that are acquired through social interaction. There are many child development milestones in this area.

At the age of one year, a child can make different sounds, or repeat the same sounds. They may make strings of noises that sound like conversation. They may also be able to identify each parent (“mama” or “dada”).

The speech and communication child development milestones of a 12-month old include:3,5,8

Original: Below are the expected speech and communication development of a 12-month-old child

  • Knows and responds to their own name.

  • May be able to say 1 to 3 simple words.

  • Repeats sounds that they hear.

  • Recognizes the names of common items in their surroundings.
  • Expresses different emotions by making different sounds.

  • Raises their arms when they want to be carried, shakes their head to say ‘no’, or points at objects that they want.

Child Development Milestones Indicator #5: Social Behaviour

One of the social child development milestones that will develop over time is your child’s personality. So, you will see your child develop preferences or favorites over certain things. He or she might have a favorite toy or story they like more than others. This can also include people and your child will be mostly attached to you, their parents. Furthermore, this can cause fear and anxiety from your child if you leave them in the company of strangers.1 In this stage, it's a balancing act between the desire and wariness to interact with new people, places, and things.

Here are some key child development milestones to take note of for emotional and social development:1,6

Original: With time, your child begins to develop his or her personality at this time

  • Tries to get the attention of others by repeating sounds or actions.

  • Enjoys social games like ‘pat-a-cake’ or ‘peekaboo’.

  • Likes looking at picture books, and being read to. They may even hand their parents books to read to them.

  • Cries when the parent leaves the room.

  • Are seen to be proud when learning a new skill like standing up or walking on their own.

  • Will cooperate when being dressed up.

  • Is shy around people they don’t know.

When keeping track of these child development milestones, keep in mind that not all children achieve their development at the same pace. As a matter of fact, these milestones are given in a range that usually does not exceed 3 months. Therefore, there are tolerable discrepancies and delays so long as they stay within the allocated time frame. Delay in child development milestones can be isolated (involving just one domain) or two or more (also known as Global Developmental Delay or GDD).7

If you notice delays in your children’s development, consult your doctor for a thorough assessment and appropriate management.



1.“Important Milestones: Your Child By One Year”. CDC. Accessed 30 July 2020.

2.“Milestones at 1 Year”. Child Mind Institute. Accessed 30 July 2020.

3.“Developmental Milestones for Typical 1-Year-Olds”. Understood. Accessed 30 July 2020.:

4.“Gross Motor Skills”. KidSense. Accessed 30 July 2020.

5.“Emotional Development: 1 Year Olds”. Accessed 30 July 2020.

6.“Your Child’s Development: 1 Year (12 Months)”. KidsHealth. Accessed 30 July 2020.

7.“Developmental milestones record - 12 months”. MedLine Plus. Accessed 30 July 2020.

8.“Milestones for a 1-Year-Old”. Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. Accessed 30 July 2020.