NPSD’s 5th Birthday: Developmental Milestones Checklist

Since it feels like there are a whole bunch more NPSD babies that entered the world this year, I thought we could celebrate NPSD’s 5th birthday by reflecting on the CDC’s Developmental Milestones for infants, toddlers, and well…us.

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Social and Emotional

  • Is shy or nervous with strangers 
  • Has favorite things and people  
  • Shows fear in some situations 
  • Repeats sounds or actions to get attention 
  • Responds to simple spoken requests 
  • Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye” 
  • Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech) 
  • Tries to say words you say 
Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
  • Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing 
  • Finds hidden things easily 
  • Copies gestures 
  • Bangs two things together 
  • Pokes with index (pointer) finger 
  • Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy” 
Movement/Physical Development
  • Gets to a sitting position without help 
  • Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”) 
  • May take a few steps without holding on 
  • May stand alone 


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Social and Emotional
  • Copies others, especially adults and older children 
  • Gets excited when with other children
  • Shows more and more independence 
  • Shows defiant behavior (doing what he has been told not to) 
  • Plays mainly beside other children, but is beginning to include other children, such as in chase games 
  • Knows names of familiar people and body parts 
  • Follows simple instructions 
  • Repeats words overheard in conversation
Movement/Physical Development
  • Stands on tiptoe 
  • Kicks a ball 
  • Begins to run  (ok, maybe this one came sooner than Year 2 for us)
  • Climbs onto and down from furniture without help 


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Social and Emotional
  • Copies adults and friends 
  • Shows affection for friends without prompting 
  • Takes turns in games 
  • Shows concern for crying friend 
  • Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers” 
  • Shows a wide range of emotions 
  • Separates easily from parents
  • May get upset with major changes in routine
  • Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps 
  • Can name most familiar things
  • Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under” 
  • Names a friend
  • Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time 
Movement/Physical Development
  • Climbs well 
  • Runs easily 
  • Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike) 
  • Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step


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Social and Emotional
  • Enjoys doing new things 
  • Is more and more creative with make-believe play 
  • Would rather play with other children than by her/himself 
  • Cooperates with other children 
  • Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe 
  • Talks about what she/he likes and what she/he is interested in 
Movement/Physical Development
  • Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds 
  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time 
  • Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food


Social and Emotional
  • Wants to please friends 
  • Wants to be like friends 
  • More likely to agree with rules 
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act 
  • Can tell what’s real and what’s make-believe 
  • Shows more independence (for example, may visit a next-door neighbor by himself [adult supervision is still needed]) 
  • Is sometimes demanding and sometimes very cooperative 
Movement/Physical Development
  • Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer 
  • Hops; may be able to skip 
  • Can do a somersault 
  • Can use the toilet on her/his own
  • Swings and climbs 

Whether you have been there from the beginning 5 years ago, or whether you have come to just 5 workouts, these milestones are real, and we have all felt the power that they contain when they are within our grasp.  Some move on from these milestones, which makes their accomplishments no less tantamount to their growth, and for some, we keep re-living these milestones over and over again within our NPSD journey.  

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Thank you to the leaders who started this whole thing at Kate Sessions Park in 2013- Ashleigh Voychick, Lauren Padula, and Jessie McDonald- as well as Angelo Neroni who helped fuel the fire that’s currently burning.  (Is the music playing me off stage yet? Fuck it.) Special shout-out to Ashleigh who 5 years after pouring her heart and energy in to birthing this NPSD baby, will be giving birth to an actual, live, BABY!!! We promise to be the village of love, support, movement, and laughter that every human deserves to grow within #shemovesmountains. Lastly, thank YOU, not just for reading this whole novel, but for just. showing. up. This would be nothing without YOUR decision to get the fuck out of bed every Monday and Wednesday morning.

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Ugh, we just love you all so much, NPSD.


Shira & Eugene

P.S. Thanks, Brogan & Bojan. I suppose you two had something to do with this, too.

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For the full list(s) of developmental milestones for the child in front of or around you:

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