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The Battelle Developmental Inventory: What is This Pediatric Assessment?

battelle developmental inventory

There are a lot of great pediatric assessments to choose from, which can be overwhelming. Given how comprehensive it is, the Battelle Developmental Inventory is a great pediatric assessment that should be in every professional or occupational therapist’s toolkit. 

The Battelle Developmental Inventory measures the developmental and functional skills of young kids ages 0-7 across 5 different domains–adaptive, personal-social, communication, motor, and cognitive. With 450 questions, the goal of this pediatric assessment is to determine whether kids are on track developmentally for their age. 

To be fair, I would say this about many assessments. Gross motor skills, fine motor skills, visual skills, cognitive development, critical reasoning; there are assessments that evaluate any number of different things and they all do so in a different way for a different population of people. The more assessments we know how to perform, the better able we are to pick and choose the assessments that are right for our clients. 

So, what makes the Battelle Developmental Inventory unique?

What the Battelle Developmental Inventory Measures

The Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI-2) was built on the theory that kids progress through milestones that build upon each other from simple to complex. The BDI-2 measures the functional and developmental skills of kiddos 0-7 years old, making it most useful for professionals that work with kiddos through the elementary school years. 

The BDI-2 has 450 test items. But, don’t worry, they are broken down into 5 domains with 13 subdomains and each domain can be tackled in any order. The entire test about 60-90 minutes to complete. The package also comes with a screening test that takes 10-30 minutes to complete.

Overall, the BDI-2 is meant to alert professionals about delays or abnormalities in how kiddos are progressing developmentally. This info can be useful when determining the types of services that kiddos need and how they need assistance moving through their early school years. 

If you’re looking for a great book about the challenges of developmental assessments and how best to implement them, check out the Fidelity of Implementation in Assessment of Infants and Toddlers.

Battelle Developmental Inventory Fast Facts

  • Purpose: developmental milestones
  • Ages: 0-7 years and 11 months old
  • Test Length: 60-90 minutes
  • Questions: 450 broken into 5 domains and 13 subdomains
  • Format: structured, observation, interview
  • Cost for Test Kit: Yes
  • Test Method: Paper and Pencil


  1. Adaptive
    –Personal Responsibility
  2. Personal-Social
    –Adult Interaction
    –Peer Interaction
    –Self-Concept and Social Role
  3. Communication
    –Receptive Communication
    –Expressive Communication
  4. Motor
    –Gross Motor
    –Fine Motor
    –Perceptual Motor
  5. Cognitive
    –Attention and Memory
    –Reasoning and Academic Skills
    –Perception and Concepts
battelle developmental inventory

Diving Into the Battelle Developmental Inventory Domains

As you can see, the BDI-2 domains cover almost everything that children do on a daily basis. While a 90 minute assessment can’t highlight every single detail about strengths and weaknesses, it gives a great big picture view of how someone is doing. 

Let’s dive into each domain briefly to see what each of them cover and how they come together into a holistic picture. 

Adaptive: BDI-2 Domain

The Adaptive domain mainly addresses skills and information that are needed to function independently. As you’ll see, many of the tasks are things that we expect kids to develop more and more autonomy and agency with as they get older. 


  • taking shoes on or off
  • choosing the right utensil to eat with

Personal Responsibility

  • knowing that “hot” is dangerous
  • moves around the house with caution
  • initiates play

Personal-Social: BDI-2 Domain

The Personal-Social domain examines how children interact with others, as well as how they develop their own sense of self. A lot of this domain deals with emotional awareness, recognition, and management.

Adult Interaction

  • helps an adult with a simple task
  • is aware of familiar people and can identify them

Peer Interaction

  • can share toys
  • plays well with peers

Self Concept and Social Role

  • has pride for one's own accomplishments
  • shows ability to handle emotions

Communication: BDI-2 Domain

The Communication domain is, surprisingly, about communication. In this domain, we’re concerned about how a child receives and express communication, both verbally and non-verbally.


  • recognizes the difference between “soft” and “loud”
  • associating pictures and words with objects
  • responding to questions


  • can relate to others by communicating verbally or nonverbally
  • can speak familiar words

Motor: BDI-2 Domain

The Motor domain aims to understand if a kiddo is developmentally on track with their abilities to control and use the large and small muscles of their bodies.

Gross Motor

  • using large muscles like legs, trunk, and arms
  • walking, jumping, running
  • coordinated movements like throwing and navigating stairs

Fine Motor

  • using small muscles like hands and fingers
  • cutting with scissors, tying knots

Perceptual Motor

  • combining motor skills with the senses
  • stacking blocks
  • copies letters and numbers

Cognitive: BDI-2 Domain

The Cognitive domain measures the how kids use their intellectual abilities to complete tasks. 

Attention and Memory

  • can recite songs or stories
  • finding hidden objects or pictures

Reasoning and Academic Skills

  • can match and name colors, numbers, and letters
  • simple logic like addition and subtraction

Perception and Concepts

  • understanding differences and similarities
  • understand the constancy of objects and how they relate to time and space

Administering the Battelle Developmental Inventory

Anyone who wants to perform the BDI-2 should be formally trained. It’s also required to buy the official test kit, which cost between $1,000-$2,000 at the time of writing this. When you buy the kit, you’ll have everything you need to complete the assessment from start to finish. There are a lot of play-based activities for which all the materials are provided. 

The BDI-2 can be a great assessment option depending on the population you work with. For therapists and professionals who work with younger school-aged children, this assessment can give valuable information about development and whether kids are meeting their appropriate milestones. 

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Diana Fitts is a certified and licensed Occupational Therapist who specializes in sensory processing disorders and autism. Check out my About page to read my story and get a free therapy journal page to record your kiddo’s sessions!