Important Milestones: By the End of 5 Years (60 Months)

Your five year old is probably able to speak in sentences, count, and play with other children. Use the “Learn the Signs. Act Early” fact sheet to find out what usually happens when a child is five years old. You can also use the information in the fact sheet to talk with your child's doctor about the growth and development milestones.

The following fact sheet is provided courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control’s "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Campaign.

Emotional Milestones
Cognitive Milestones
Hand and Finger Skills
Developmental Health Watch

5 yearsChildren develop at their own pace, so it's impossible to tell exactly when yours will learn a given skill. The developmental milestones below will give you a general idea of the changes you can expect as your child gets older, but don't be alarmed if your child takes a slightly different course.


  • Wants to please friends
  • Wants to be like her friends
  • More likely to agree to rules
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act
  • Shows more independence and may even visit a next-door neighbor by herself

Emotional Milestones

  • Aware of gender
  • Able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Sometimes demanding, sometimes eagerly cooperative

Cognitive Milestones

  • Can count 10 or more objects
  • Correctly names at least four colors
  • Better understands the concept of time
  • Knows about things used every day in the home (money, food, appliances)


  • Recalls part of a story
  • Speaks sentences of more than five words
  • Uses future tense
  • Tells longer stories
  • Says name and address


  • Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
  • Hops, somersaults
  • Swings, climbs
  • May be able to skip

Hand and Finger Skills

  • Copies triangle and other shapes
  • Draws person with body
  • Prints some letters
  • Dresses and undresses without help
  • Uses fork, spoon, and (sometimes) a table knife
  • Usually cares for own toilet needs

Developmental Health Watch
Alert your child's doctor or nurse if your child displays any of the following signs of possible developmental delay for this age range.

  • Acts extremely fearful or timid
  • Acts extremely aggressively
  • Is unable to separate from parents without major protest
  • Is easily distracted and unable to concentrate on any single activity for more than five minutes
  • Shows little interest in playing with other children
  • Refuses to respond to people in general, or responds only superficially
  • Rarely uses fantasy or imitation in play
  • Seems unhappy or sad much of the time
  • Doesn't engage in a variety of activities
  • Avoids or seems aloof with other children and adults
  • Doesn't express a wide range of emotions
  • Has trouble eating, sleeping, or using the toilet
  • Can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality
  • Seems unusually passive
  • Cannot understand two-part commands using prepositions ("Put the doll on the bed, and get the ball under the couch.")
  • Can't correctly give her first and last name
  • Doesn't use plurals or past tense properly when speaking
  • Doesn't talk about her daily activities and experiences
  • Cannot build a tower of six to eight blocks
  • Seems uncomfortable holding a crayon
  • Has trouble taking off clothing
  • Cannot brush her teeth efficiently
  • Cannot wash and dry her hands
  • Experiences a dramatic loss of skills he or she once

From CARING FOR YOUR BABY AND YOUNG CHILD: BIRTH TO AGE 5 by Steven Shelov, Robert E. Hannermann, © 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Used by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

See PDF Version:
     Important Milestones: By the End of 5 Years (60 Months) [PDF, 148KB]

"Important Milestones: By the End of 5 Years (60 Months)." Learn the Signs. Act Early. DHHS/CDC. 2005. English. [PDF, 148KB]

Last Reviewed: December 2010

Last Updated: September 5, 2014