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Developmental Milestones And Growth Charts

Discover how understanding developmental milestones and growth charts can provide invaluable insights into your child's growth and help monitor their progress effectively.

USMLE Guide: Developmental Milestones and Growth Charts


This guide provides a comprehensive overview of developmental milestones and growth charts, which are important topics covered in the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Understanding these concepts is essential for assessing the normal growth and development of infants, children, and adolescents. This guide will cover the key milestones and charts used to evaluate growth, allowing you to confidently answer related questions on the USMLE.

Developmental Milestones


Developmental milestones refer to the typical skills or behaviors that children achieve at various ages. These milestones are used to assess the child's growth and development, helping identify any potential delays or abnormalities.

Gross Motor Milestones

  1. Newborn (0-2 months): Lifts head briefly when prone.
  2. 3 months: Raises head and chest when prone, slight head lag when pulled to sit.
  3. 6 months: Rolls from front to back, sits with support, bears weight on legs.
  4. 9 months: Sits without support, crawls, pulls to stand.
  5. 12 months: Stands alone, walks with one hand held.
  6. 18 months: Walks independently, climbs stairs with help.
  7. 2 years: Runs, jumps with both feet off the ground.
  8. 3 years: Climbs stairs alternating feet, pedals tricycle.
  9. 4 years: Hops on one foot, catches a ball.
  10. 5 years: Skips, jumps rope.

Fine Motor Milestones

  1. Newborn (0-2 months): Grasps objects reflexively.
  2. 3 months: Holds objects briefly, hands mostly open.
  3. 6 months: Holds objects with whole hand, reaches for objects.
  4. 9 months: Transfers objects between hands, pincer grasp.
  5. 12 months: Uses a cup, can turn pages of a book.
  6. 18 months: Removes socks, starts scribbling.
  7. 2 years: Builds a tower of 6 blocks, turns pages one at a time.
  8. 3 years: Copies a circle, undresses without help.
  9. 4 years: Uses scissors, draws a person with 3 parts.
  10. 5 years: Prints letters, ties shoelaces.

Language Development Milestones

  1. Newborn (0-2 months): Cries, coos.
  2. 3 months: Smiles at familiar faces, laughs.
  3. 6 months: Babbles, imitates sounds.
  4. 9 months: Says "dada," "mama" nonspecifically.
  5. 12 months: Says one word with meaning, follows simple commands.
  6. 18 months: Says 10-20 words, points to body parts.
  7. 2 years: Uses 2-word phrases, understands simple instructions.
  8. 3 years: Uses sentences with 3+ words, understands prepositions.
  9. 4 years: Tells stories, names colors.
  10. 5 years: Speaks clearly, counts to 10.

Growth Charts


Growth charts are standardized tools used to assess a child's physical growth and compare it to the population norms. These charts plot various measurements, including weight, height, and head circumference, against age.


  1. Weight: Reflects nutritional status and overall growth.
  2. Length/Height: Reflects linear growth and skeletal development.
  3. Head Circumference: Reflects brain growth and possible abnormalities.

Growth Chart Types

  1. Weight for Age: Evaluates overall nutritional status.
  2. Length/Height for Age: Assesses linear growth and skeletal development.
  3. Weight for Length/Height: Determines the proportionality of weight to height.
  4. Body Mass Index (BMI) for Age: Assesses obesity or malnutrition.


  1. Percentiles: Growth measurements are plotted on percentile curves, indicating the proportion of children with similar measurements.
  2. <5th Percentile: Indicates undernutrition or stunted growth.
  3. >95th Percentile: Suggests overweight or obesity.
  4. Crossing Percentiles: Crossing multiple percentile lines over time may indicate abnormal growth.

Growth Disorders

  1. Failure to Thrive: Inadequate weight gain or growth below the 5th percentile.
  2. Short Stature: Height below the 5th percentile for age.
  3. Obesity: Weight above the 95th percentile for age.
  4. Macrocephaly/Microcephaly: Head circumference above or below the 95th or 5th percentile, respectively.


Understanding developmental milestones and growth charts is crucial for assessing normal growth and development in children

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