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5 year developmental milestones

  • 1-5 Years
  • 5-11 Years
  • Child development and growing up
Young girl with glasses painting, sitting at a table dipping a paintbrush into a paint pot and smiling.

There are some key physical and communication milestones you will expect your 5 year old to reach. These milestones should be treated as a rough guide, as each child is unique and will develop at their own pace. It is often unhelpful to compare a child to other children or their siblings.

Last reviewed: 1 November, 2023

At around 5 years old you can expect your child to be able to:


  • balance and stand on one foot for about 10 seconds
  • hop
  • dance
  • swing and climb
  • slide down a slide
  • dress and undress themselves
  • use scissors with supervision
  • copy 4 to 5 letters of the alphabet

Read our information on hand skills

Communication, problem solving and behaviour

  • speak very clearly
  • know their name, address and age
  • like listening and telling stories
  • have a best friend
  • use their sense of humour
  • use more of their imagination
  • show more independence
  • recognise big and small items and be able to tell you this for example, the elephant is big
  • count up to 15 with few mistakes
  • explain how they feel with explanation. ‘I am happy because I got a sticker’ or ‘I am sad because I fell over’
  • play with a small group of friends alone
  • sit still and listen to a short story or play with an activity they like for 15 to 20 minutes
  • show worry if someone is sad or hurt
  • leave their parents to enter a new environment/place with little support

Read more about your child's communication

Encouraging development

Activities and games you can explore with your child:

  • plenty of outdoor activities
  • teaching your child to swim and ride a 2 wheeled bicycle
  • skipping and kicking a football
  • sewing kits
  • drawing and painting
  • helping with some home tasks such as washing up and watering plants
Sheet of white paper with paint on it. A paint brush covered in red paint is also lying on the sheet of paper.

Toddlers do not need lots of toys or devices to have fun or to encourage development. Toddlers have very active imaginations. Playing with old cardboard boxes or homemade playdough are great alternatives.

Possible development concerns

Sometimes development can be slower than you expect, or you may notice something different about your child. It's normal to feel worried but there is lots of support out there. 

Contact your health visitor if you notice your child is:

  • not able to walk, run, climb, jump or use stairs confidently
  • not able to hop five times on one leg and stand on one leg for 5 seconds


Need more specific support for your child?

If your child needs more help or has additional needs, you can visit our specific section for extra support.

Child development and growing up for additional needs


Who can help

If you have any questions or concerns about your toddler's development, a health professional in our team will be able to offer advice and support.

You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation.

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays).

Information for 5 year old children

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