Early Intervention (ages 0-3)

Updated: Dec 29, 2018

Occupational Therapy is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. When it comes to pediatrics, occupational therapists provide individualized therapeutic intervention to help kids improve their performance in occupations such as eating, sleeping, self-care, and learning by addressing underlying difficulties like fine motor, problem solving, attention, and sensory processing skills (to name a few). Occupational therapy also takes into account the effect of a task’s difficulty on the child’s performance, as well as the role of the physical and social environment.

Occupational Therapy is creative, scientific, and evidence-based.

Early Intervention Services will address:

• physical development

• cognitive development

• communication development

• Social or emotional development

• adaptive development

Understood.org has typical developmental milestones as outlined below:


Physical Milestones

  • Makes reflex movements like sucking and startling

  • Has jerky, uncontrolled arm and leg movements

Cognitive Milestones

  • Learns about things by feel, sound, sight and smell

  • Begins repeating movements to help brain growth and memory

Social and Emotional Milestones

  • Starts learning to be comforted by caregivers

  • Begins getting attached to caregivers

3 Months

Physical Milestones

  • Props up on arms when on belly

  • Holds head up unsupported for a short time

  • Follows an object with eyes from one side to the middle, but not all the way around

Cognitive Milestones

  • Starts paying attention to, watching and recognizing faces

  • Recognizes familiar people at a distance

  • Shows signs of boredom (fussiness) when doing one thing too long

  • Uses eyes and hands together and plans, such as seeing a toy and reaching for it

Social and Emotional Milestones

  • Smiles spontaneously

  • Likes to play with people

  • Coos and babbles

  • Develops different cries for different needs (hungry, tired, wet)

  • Responds to love and affection

  • Shows happiness and sadness

  • May imitate facial expressions

5 Months

Physical Milestones

  • Reaches for and grabs objects

  • Rocks on tummy; may be able to roll from tummy to back

  • Puts weight on legs when feet are flat on the floor

  • Moves things from hand to hand

Cognitive and Language Milestones

  • Is curious about things out of reach and looks at new things

  • Explores things by putting them in mouth

  • Responds to conversation by making sounds

  • Recognizes and responds to own name

Social and Emotional Milestones

  • Starts to recognize and react to strangers

  • Tries to get caregivers to play (sticks out tongue, pats toys, etc.)

7 Months

Physical Milestones

  • Rolls from back to tummy and tummy to back

  • Sits without support

  • Does “push-ups” and starts trying to move forward

Cognitive and Language Milestones

  • Practices turn-taking when “talking” with caregivers

  • Jabbers with vowel sound combinations (eh, ah, oh) and starts using sounds like band m

  • Starts testing cause and effect, such as seeing what happens when shaking a toy

Social and Emotional Milestones

  • Is interested in looking in the mirror

  • Uses sounds to express happiness, sadness and anger

9 Months

Physical Milestones

  • Gets into and out of a sitting position

  • Starts scooting, creeping or crawling

  • May stand with support

  • Picks up small objects using thumb and fingers (pincer grasp)

  • Follows a falling object with eyes

  • Looks for hidden object, but only if he sees you hide it

  • Plays peekaboo and patty-cake

  • Starts to understand no

  • Makes vowel-consonant sounds (mama, baba)

  • Points and copies other gestures

Social and Emotional Milestones

  • Begins having stranger anxiety

  • May be upset when separated from caregivers

  • Has favorite objects or toys

12 Months

Physical Milestones

  • Walks holding on to hands or furniture

  • May stand alone

  • May take a few steps alone

  • Can let go of items without help

  • Points

Cognitive and Language Milestones

  • Finds hidden objects

  • Looks at or points to a picture when you name it

  • Bangs, throws and shakes things to see what happens

  • Explores everyday objects, both in correct ways (using a cup to drink) and incorrect ways (puts a toy in a cup)

  • Follows one-step directions

  • Shakes head no and waves

  • Tries to repeat words

Social and Emotional Milestones

  • Uses inflection and pauses to make sounds that sound like talking

  • Uses simple words like mama or uh-oh

  • Responds to name

  • Plays favorites with people

  • Is a little fearful of new things

  • Uses gestures or sounds to get your attention

Keep in mind that babies do develop at different rates, but if you notice that your child is not developing significant skills around the same age as her peers or older siblings, consult your pediatrician.

You can visit the CDC website for further information on ages that children typically reach specific milestones as well as ways caregivers can help.

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