Your baby's developmental milestones from 3 to 5 years

Your child’s first 5 years will see huge changes in their development. As they grow, their skills develop.

These include:

  • gross motor skills – using large muscles that coordinate body movements such as standing, sitting upright and walking
  • fine motor skills – using small muscles for accurate coordinated movements such as holding a toy and drawing with a crayon
  • communication and hearing
  • social and emotional
  • problem-solving, learning and understanding

The ages given for milestones in this guide are an average. Every child is different. Most children should be meeting these milestones.

Find out more about helping your young child manage strong feelings and behaviour

Information:

Talk to your GP or public health nurse (PHN) if you are concerned about your child’s development. They may carry out more tests or refer your child to a specialist.

By 3 years

By this age most babies will achieve these milestones:

Gross motor

Your child will be able to:

  • walk upstairs
  • pedal a tricycle

Fine motor

They’ll be able to:

  • copy a circle
  • draw a person’s head

Communication and hearing

Your child will be able to:

  • use 4 to 5 word sentences
  • tell stories

Social and emotional

Your child will play with other children in small groups.

Problem-solving, learning and understanding

Your child can:

  • copy or imitate another person
  • line up 4 objects like blocks or cars in a row
By 4 years

By this age most babies will achieve these milestones:

Gross motor

Your child will be able to:

  • hop
  • balance on each foot for 3 seconds

Fine motor

They’ll be able to:

  • copy a square using a crayon
  • draw a cross (+ sign)
  • draw a person in 3 parts

Communication and hearing

Your child will be able to name 4 colours. Their speech will be easy for others to understand.

Social and emotional

Your child will share and take turns when playing with other children. They can sing a song.

Problem-solving, learning and understanding

Your child can:

  • dress up
  • play act
  • name different colours
By 5 years

By this age most babies will achieve these milestones:

Gross motor

Your child will be able to:

  • walk ‘heel to toe’ – in a straight line with one foot immediately ahead of the other
  • skip

Fine motor

They’ll be able to:

  • copy a triangle
  • draw a person with 6 body parts

Communication and hearing

Your child will know numbers from 1 to 10.

Social and emotional

Between 4 and 5 years your child’s social and emotional skills develop rapidly.

Your child:

  • has a group of friends
  • uses make-believe and dress-up when playing

Problem-solving, learning and understanding

Your child can write some letters or numbers.

You may notice your child:

  • still needs your support when trying to talk to adults
  • understands what you’re saying
  • repeats things they hear
  • is not aware that things they say can be hurtful to other people
  • is interested in time
  • is interested in learning more complicated games
  • gets better at taking turns and sharing, but still needs encouragement from time to time
  • becomes more aware of danger - for example, staying safe on busy roads
  • still seems to think that the world revolves around them
  • enjoys showing off their achievements
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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.

Page last reviewed: 12 November 2021
Next review due: 12 November 2024