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 third
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 4:
Can say their first and last names.
Understand the concept of counting and may know some
Better understand concepts of time.
Understand the difference between things that are the
same and things that are different.
Are aware of their own gender
and can identify the gender of others.
Understand that events are
connected, although their interpretation may not always be logical. For
example, a child may understand the logic that glass may break if hit with a
rock. But he or she may still throw the rock thinking that it won't break this
time (magical thinking).
Know the difference between fantasy and
reality. But they still play "pretend," which becomes increasingly inventive.
They also may blur fantasy and reality when they are stressed or have extreme
emotions. They may develop new fears as a result of their active
Emotional and social development
Most children by
View themselves as whole people, with a body,
mind, and feelings.
Are aware that they can be hurt physically,
which sometimes causes them to be very sensitive about their
Are interested in new experiences.
with other children and, with help, can negotiate solutions to conflicts.
Alternate between being demanding and
Dress and undress themselves.
to be a mom or dad during play.
Are noticeably more
Most children by age 4:
Use sentences of 5 to 6
Speak clearly enough for strangers to understand
Have mastered some basic rules of grammar.
describe something that has happened to them.
Tell a short story as well as recall parts of a
Sensory and motor development
Most children by age
Stand on one foot.
Move forward and
Can go up and down stairs without holding on to
anything for support.
Ride a tricycle or a bicycle with training
Throw a ball overhand and sometimes catch a bounced ball.
They also can kick a ball forward.
By age 4, most children can use their hands and fingers,
which are called fine motor skills, to:
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.