As a child grows and develops, he or she will learn and increasingly want to take part in more and more tasks associated with self-care. Watching a child become more independent as they age can be bittersweet for the parent, but these self-care milestones are an important part of any child’s personal and social development. When it comes to self-care, encouragement is key with toddlers and young children. Allowing a child to experiment and try new tasks will boost their self-confidence and encourage him or her to continue to try new things, even if they don’t work out the first time. It’s important to show support and encouragement without putting too much pressure on the child, and not to jump in too quickly if a child is struggling with a task he or she is trying to figure out.

Examples of early childhood self-care milestones include everyday tasks such as dressing and undressing, using a fork and spoon to feed themselves, brushing their teeth, and using the toilet.  As they continue to grow and develop, children become able to help out with basic household chores such as picking up their toys and making their bed. They can also be encouraged to help out around the kitchen or garden with activities such as stirring brownie mix or watering plants. Eventually self-care development will lead to showering or bathing on their own and taking initiative in other household tasks such as preparing food and doing laundry.

An occupational therapist may be needed if a child is showing resistance toward learning or taking part in these day to day self-care tasks. Using the Developmental Milestones Guide, occupational therapists can quickly and easily refer to a child’s age and pinpoint specific milestones that he or she would likely have demonstrated by that age.


In our guide, you’ll find tables listing specific developmental milestones for each category, including fine and gross motor skills, self-care, cognitive abilities, and language development, as well as others that contribute to the development of self care such as feeding, hygiene and dressing. We strive to increase the understanding that these milestones are only a guide, and that because each child is unique the age at which they reach these milestones may vary. Each page of the guide includes a section listing the age, including years and months, at which children typically develop the particular milestone. Download a digital copy of the guide, or order your printed copy today.