When our lovely little children are born into the world, they depend on us for their every need. We watch them grow and eventually they are able to do more and more for themselves. They learn to hold their bottles, sit up, reach for things they want, and hold utensils for feeding. Next, we watch them begin to move around their environment by scooting, crawling, and too soon sometimes walking. Walking opens up an entirely new world to your toddlers, full of opportunities to be independent.
It is not until those preschool years that we usually see children wanting to do more for themselves. They might object to the clothes you pick out for them, want to brush their own teeth, or go to the bathroom without help from you. This new found journey for independence can be unnerving for parents, but is essential for personal and social development.
Around the ages of three or four, most self-care skills become apparent, but becoming an expert at them may take much longer. If your child has a disability, these milestones may take much longer.
|7 months||Finger feeds dry cereal|
|9 months||Feeds self cracker using whole hand|
|2-2 ½ years||Scoops food using spoon with spilling|
|2-2 ½ years||Spears and shovels food using fork with some spilling|
|4 years||Holds spoon appropriately with fingers|
|5-5 ½ years||Uses knife to cut soft foods and spread|
|1 ½ -2 years||Removes socks or unties shoes|
|2-2 ½ years||Removes pants with elastic waists and pulls over tops
Removes unfastened coat
|3 years||Undresses self|
|3-3 ½ years||Puts on coat, shoes (can be wrong feet), socks, pullover garments, pulls up pants|
|4 years||Distinguishes front/back and clothes that are inside out, orients clothing and puts clothing on|
|7 years||Discriminates inside and outside of clothing and can fix if wrong|
|1 year||Unsnaps front snaps|
|2-2 ½ years||Unzips and zips a non-separating sipper|
|3 years||Unbuttons front buttons|
|3 ½ years||Unzips front opening zipper|
|3 ½ years||Buttons small buttons|
|3 ½ -4 years||Snaps most snaps-front|
|4 ½ years||Zips front, separating zipper|
|5 ½ -6 years||Zips, unzips, hooks, unhooks separating zipper|
|6-6 1/2 years||Ties bows on shoes|
|2-2 ½ years||Wipes nose on request|
|3 ½ -4 years||Completes hand washing routine|
|4 ½ -5 years||Brushes teeth|
|5 ½ -6 years||Manages all aspects of toileting|
|6-6 ½ years||Blows and wipes nose by self|
Adapted from Hand Function and the Child: Foundations for Remediation, by A. Henderson & C. Pehoski (Eds.), “Selfcare and hand skills,” pp. 164-183.
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