Testing for Infant and Toddler Development

Understanding the Battelle Developmental Inventory for Young Children

Toddler development

Learning whether a child has developmental delays as early as possible is important in preventing further delays and helping your child learn. How is the Battelle Developmental Inventory used to assess children aged seven and under for developmental delays?

Assessing Infant and Toddler Development

Many people are familiar with standardized testing and developmental tests for school aged children and older, but we have learned that detecting, and addressing developmental delays is important as soon as they are suspected—when a child is still and infant, toddler, or young child.

Thankfully there is specialized testing for this age group, called the Battelle Developmental Inventory.

The Battelle Developmental Inventory

The Battelle Developmental Inventory is an assessment for infants and children through age seven. It is a flexible, semi-structured assessment that used a combination of sources such as:

  • Observation of the child
  • Interviews with parents and caregivers
  • A thorough developmental history (review of milestones reached each age and more)
  • Social history
  • Interaction with the child using game-like materials, toys, questionnaires, and tasks

Infant and Toddler Tests for Developmental Delays

The Battelle Developmental Inventory is one type of assessment commonly used to determine if infants and children are meeting developmental milestones. The milestones assessed include things such as when a baby first smiled, laughed, and learned how to site alone. Developmental milestones are broken down into four general categories:

  • Physical milestones such as sitting up, crawling, and walking
  • Cognitive milestones such as facial expressions and learning the alphabet
  • Social and emotional milestones such as recognizing their own emotions and the emotions of others through play
  • Communication milestones such as when the first words were spoken and learning grammar with age

    A review of these milestones will help determine if a child is showing early signs of learning disabilities or has any significant developmental delay. It's important to understand the difference between developmental delays and learning disabilities as developmental delays do not necessarily predict a child will have learning disabilities in the future. Many children "outgrow" these delays, but they can be very helpful in directing you to look for learning disabilities before they have a greater effect on you child.

    Infant Developmental Testing

    The Battelle can be used to assess infant development through observing the interaction between an examiner and a child or a parent and a child. Examiners observe the child's responses and score them based on standardized criteria. Parent and caregiver input is an important part of the learning disability assessment process in gathering information on the child's history and interactions and development taking place beyond the testing session.

    Toddler and Preschooler Developmental Testing

    When the Battelle is used to assess toddler through preschool development, most assessment tasks involve the examiner interacting with the child using toys, games, and tasks.

    Examiners observe the child's ability to follow instructions, interact with others, and perform tasks. Parent information is also used to assess areas that cannot be observed during a testing session. As children perform tasks and respond to the examiner's prompts, their performance is scored based on standardized criteria.

    Infant and Toddler Development

    The Battelle assesses five domains of early childhood development. These include:

    • Adaptive behavior - Adaptive behaviors are those that, as an adult, are necessary to function independently in society. Certainly, infants and younger children do not need to be able to balance a checking account, but adaptive skills appropriate for age are carefully assessed. These may include skills such as getting dressed, the ability to make friends, and following basic rules to avoid dangers (such as holding an adult's hand while crossing a busy street.)

    The assessment results can be used to determine if there are delays, and how significant these delays are when compared to others in the child's age group. Learn more about the learning disability assessment process.


    Ghassabian, A., Sundaram, R., Bell, E., Bello, S., Kus, C., and E. Yeung. Gross Motor Milestones and Subsequent Development. Pediatrics. 2016. 138(1):pii:e20154372.

    Rubio-Codina, M., Araujo, M., Attanasio, O., Munoz, P., and S. Grantham-McGregor. Concurrent Validity and Feasibility of Short Test Currently Used to Measure Early Childhood Development in Large Scale Studies. PLoS One. 2016. 11(8):e0160962.