Developmental Milestones 1-2 years

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Standards (NQS) are the Australian Government guide outlining the principles, practices and outcomes that support and enhance young children’s learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school.

With regard to monitoring the developmental milestones of young children, the EYLF reminds us that:

“Children’s learning is ongoing and each child will progress towards the outcomes in different and equally meaningful ways. Learning is not always predictable and linear. Educators plan with each child and the outcomes in mind.” (Early Years Learning Framework, p.19)

At the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning and Childcare Centres in NSW we closely follow the practices set out by the EYLF and our trained educators use their expected outcomes as a guide to monitor the developmental stages of the babies and children in our care, never losing sight of the fact that it is natural for all children to progress at their own pace.

A summary of the milestone guide for babies 1-2 years:

Physical Development

  • Walks, climbs and runs with some support
  • Can take some steps without support
  • Can climb onto steps and chairs
  • Dances and jiggles along to music
  • Kicks, throws, rolls, bounces a ball
  • Feed themselves (if rather messy!)
  • Attempts to turn pages in a picture book
  • Can scribble with pencil/crayon/chalk held in fist
  • Begins to totter (be it clumsily!)
  • Pick up an object by squatting/bending
  • Will use crawling as quickest way of getting around
  • Drinks from a cup and tries to use baby cutlery


  • Separation anxiety when left by important people
  • Starts to take cues from parents or carers regarding strangers
  • Seeks comfort from caregivers when upset
  • Becomes angry and frustrated when tired/upset
  • Shows empathy by patting/making sympathetic noises or offering toys etc.


  • Enjoys repetitive actions with fun results, e.g. banging spoon on pan
  • Knows and recognises some parts of the body
  • Can identify objects when named
  • Can recognise themselves mirror/photograph
  • Mimics activities in the home e.g. mopping, wiping
  • Explores and plays with things, with hands and mouth, as they learn
  • Stacking and knocking things over or selecting games to play
  • Knows own name and has a sense of self
  • Searches for lost/hidden toys
  • Begins to show toileting signals as they become aware


  • Energetic and outgoing, with an adult presence for reassurance
  • Starts to cooperate when playing games
  • Plays alongside others, but not necessarily interacting (parallel play)


  • Understands simple commands and questions
  • Can say their own name
  • Knows and says the name of various objects
  • Starts to form proper short sentences, e.g. ‘I’m hungry’
  • Imitating peers of similar age
  • Enjoys participating in rhymes and songs

Talk to a professional for advice if your 1-2 year old is:

  • Not moving around/exploring
  • Not communicating with simple words or actions
  • Not responding/interacting with others
  • Not seeking attention from caregivers or familiar people

If you or your childcare centre believes that your child may be falling behind with any of these developmental milestones, or if you are noticing any of the signs that you think may be a cause for concern, make an appointment with your family health nurse or GP who will conduct a comprehensive developmental check.

…And remember there really is no normal when it comes to human development.