Child development stages

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Child development stages are the theoretical milestones of child development, some of which are asserted in nativist theories. This article discusses the most widely accepted developmental stages in children. There exists a wide variation in terms of what is considered "normal," caused by variation in genetic, cognitive, physical, family, cultural, nutritional, educational, and environmental factors. Many children reach some or most of these milestones at different times from the norm. [1]

Contents

Holistic development sees the child in the round, as a whole person - physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, morally, culturally and spiritually. Learning about child development involves studying patterns of growth and development, from which guidelines for 'normal' development are construed. Developmental norms are sometimes called milestones - they define the recognised pattern of development that children are expected to follow. Each child develops in a unique way; however, using norms helps in understanding these general patterns of development while recognising the wide variation between individuals. This page focuses mostly on linguistic development.

One way to identify pervasive developmental disorders is if infants fail to meet the development milestones in time or at all. [2]

Table of milestones

Developmental milestones [3] [4]
AgeMotorSpeechVision and hearingSocial
1–1.5 monthsWhen held upright, holds head erect and steady.Cooes and babbles at parents and people they knowFocuses on parents.
  • Loves looking at new faces
  • Starts to smile at parents
  • Startled by sudden noises
1.6–2 monthsWhen prone, lifts self by arms; rolls from side to back.
  • Vocalizes
  • Cooes (makes vowel-like noises) or babbles.
Focuses on objects as well as adults
  • Loves looking at new faces
  • Smiles at parent
  • Starting to smile [6]
2.1–2.5 months
  • Rolls from tummy to side
  • Rests on elbows, lifts head 90 degrees
  • Sits propped up with hands, head steady for short time
  • Changes sounds while verbalizing, "eee-ahhh"
  • Verbalizes to engage someone in interaction
  • Blows bubbles, plays with tongue
  • Deep belly laughs
  • Hand regard: following the hand with the eyes [7]
  • Color vision adult-like.
Serves to practice emerging visual skills. [8] Also observed in blind children. [7]
3 monthsMakes vowel noises
  • Follows dangling toy from side to side
  • Turns head around to sound. Follows adults' gaze (joint attention)
  • Sensitivity to binocular cues emerges.
  • Squeals with delight appropriately
  • Discriminates smile. Smiles often
  • Laughs at simple things.
  • Reaches out for objects.
5 months
  • Holds head steady
  • Goes for objects and gets them
  • Objects taken to mouth
Enjoys vocal play
  • Able to reach hanging objects and grab them
  • Noticing colors

  • Adjusts hand shape to shape of toy before picking up
6 months
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other
  • Pulls self up to sit and sits erect with supports
  • Rolls over from tummy to back
  • Palmar grasp of cube hand to hand eye coordination [6]
  • Double syllable sounds such as 'mumum' and 'dada'
  • Babbles (consonant-vowel combinations)
  • Localises sound 45 cm (18 in) lateral to either ear
  • Visual acuity adult-like (20/20)
  • Sensitivity to pictorial depth cues (those used by artists to indicate depth) emerges
May show stranger anxiety
9–10 monthsBabbles tunefullyLooks for toys droppedApprehensive about strangers
1 year
  • Stands holding furniture
  • Stands alone for a second or two, then collapses with a bump
Babbles 2 or 3 words repeatedlyDrops toys, and watches where they go
  • Cooperates with dressing
  • Waves goodbye
  • Understands simple commands
18 months
  • Can walk alone
  • Picks up toy without falling over
  • Gets up/down stairs holding onto rail
  • Begins to jump with both feet
  • Can build a tower of 3 or 4 cubes and throw a ball
  • Supinate grasping position usually seen as first grasping position utilized.
'Jargon': Many intelligible wordsBe able to recognise their favourite songs, and will try to join in.
  • Demands constant mothering
  • Drinks from a cup with both hands
  • Feeds self with a spoon
2 years
  • Able to run
  • Walks up and down stairs using two footsteps per stair step
  • Builds tower of 6 cubes
  • Joins 2–3 words in sentences
  • Able to repeat words that they hear.
  • Gradually build their vocabulary. [9]
  • Able to recognize words [10]
3 years
  • Goes up stairs one footstep per stair step and downstairs two footsteps per stair step
  • Copies circle, imitates hand motions and draws man on request
  • Builds tower of 9 cubes
  • Pronate method of grasping develops
  • Constantly asks questions
  • Speaks in sentences
4 years
  • Goes both up and down stairs using one footstep per stair step
  • Postural capacity needed to control balance in walking not attained yet
  • Skips on one foot
  • Imitates gate with cubes
  • Copies a cross
  • Between 4 and 6 years, the classic tripod grip develops and is made more efficient.
  • Questioning at its height
  • Many infantile substitutions in speech
  • Dresses and undresses with assistance
  • Attends to own toilet needs
5 years
  • Skips on both feet and hops.
  • Begins to be able to control balance not attained at 3–4 years of age
  • Begins to be able to control gravitational forces in walking
  • Draws a stick figure and copies a hexagonal based pyramid using graphing paper
  • Gives age
Fluent speech with few infantile substitutions in speechDresses and undresses alone
6 years
  • At this age, until age 7, adult muscle activation pattern in walking is complete.
  • Leads to head control and trunk coordination while walking, by at least age 8.
  • Mechanical energy transfer exists
  • Copies a diamond
  • Knows right from left and number of fingers
Fluent speech

Physical specifications

AgeAverage length/heightLength growthAverage weightWeight gainRespiration rate
(per minute)
Normal body temperature Heart rate (pulse)
(per minute) [11]
Visual acuity
(Snellen chart)
1–4
months
50–70 cm (20–28 in)2.5 cm (0.98 in) per month4–8 kg (8.8–17.6 lb)100–200 g per week30 to 4035.7–37.5 °C (96.3–99.5 °F)80 to 160
4–8
months
70–75 cm (28–30 in)1.3 cm (0.51 in) per monthDoubling birth weight500 g per month25 to 50Body temperature80 to 160
8–12
months
Approx. 1.5 times birth length by first birthday9.6 kg (21 lb) Nearly triple the birth weight by first birthday500 g per month20 to 45Body temperature80 to 16020/100
12–24
months
80–90 cm (31–35 in)5–8 cm (2.0–3.1 in) per year9–13 kg (20–29 lb)130–250 g per month22 to 40Body temperature80 to 13020/60
2 years85–95 cm (33–37 in)7–13 cm (2.8–5.1 in) per year12–15 kg (26–33 lb) about 4 times birth weight1 kg per year20 to 35Body temperature80 to 120

[5]

Milestones by age [12]

1–4 months

Physical

Motor development [14]

4–8 months

Physical

Motor development

8–12 months

Physical

Motor development

Toddler (12–24 months)

Physical

Motor development

Cognitive development

English language

Social [17]

Walking development [18]

Two-year-old

Physical

Motor development

Cognitive

English language

Social and emotional

[21]

Three-year-old

Physical

Motor development

Cognitive development

[22] [23]

Four-year-old

Physical development

Motor development

Cognitive

English language

Social development

[25]

Five-year-old

Physical

Motor development

Cognitive

English language development

Social development

Six-year-old

Physical

Motor development

English language

Social and emotional

Seven-year-old

Motor development

Writing grips

English language

Social and emotional

Eight-year-old

Motor development

The first grader reads a certificate that he has already read the ABC book, Russia, 2021 First grader reads a certificate ABC book read.jpg
The first grader reads a certificate that he has already read the ABC book, Russia, 2021

English skills

Social and emotional

Nine-year-old

Motor skills

English skills

Social skills

Ten-year-old

Motor skills

English skills

Social skills

Eleven-year-old

Motor skills

English skills

Social and emotional development

Twelve-year-old

Motor skills

English skills

Social skills

Thirteen-year-old

Fourteen-year-old

Fifteen-year-old

Sixteen-year-old

See also

Related Research Articles

Developmental psychology Scientific study of psychological changes in humans over the course of their lives

Developmental psychology is the scientific study of how and why human beings change over the course of their life. Originally concerned with infants and children, the field has expanded to include adolescence, adult development, aging, and the entire lifespan. Developmental psychologists aim to explain how thinking, feeling, and behaviors change throughout life. This field examines change across three major dimensions: physical development, cognitive development, and social emotional development. Within these three dimensions are a broad range of topics including motor skills, executive functions, moral understanding, language acquisition, social change, personality, emotional development, self-concept, and identity formation.

Toddler Child 12 to 36 months old

A toddler is a child approximately 12 to 36 months old, though definitions vary. The toddler years are a time of great cognitive, emotional and social development. The word is derived from "to toddle", which means to walk unsteadily, like a child of this age.

Baby sign language is the use of manual signing allowing infants and toddlers to communicate emotions, desires, and objects prior to spoken language development. With guidance and encouragement signing develops from a natural stage in infants development known as gesture. These gestures are taught in conjunction with speech to hearing children, and are not the same as a sign language. Some common benefits that have been found through the use of baby sign programs include an increased parent-child bond and communication, decreased frustration, and improved self-esteem for both the parent and child. Researchers have found that baby sign neither benefits nor harms the language development of infants. Promotional products and ease of information access have increased the attention that baby sign receives, making it pertinent that caregivers become educated before making the decision to use baby sign.

Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or otherwise sensed. This is a fundamental concept studied in the field of developmental psychology, the subfield of psychology that addresses the development of young children's social and mental capacities. There is not yet scientific consensus on when the understanding of object permanence emerges in human development.

Hypotonia

Hypotonia is a state of low muscle tone, often involving reduced muscle strength. Hypotonia is not a specific medical disorder, but a potential manifestation of many different diseases and disorders that affect motor nerve control by the brain or muscle strength. Hypotonia is a lack of resistance to passive movement, whereas muscle weakness results in impaired active movement. Central hypotonia originates from the central nervous system, while peripheral hypotonia is related to problems within the spinal cord, peripheral nerves and/or skeletal muscles. Severe hypotonia in infancy is commonly known as floppy baby syndrome. Recognizing hypotonia, even in early infancy, is usually relatively straightforward, but diagnosing the underlying cause can be difficult and often unsuccessful. The long-term effects of hypotonia on a child's development and later life depend primarily on the severity of the muscle weakness and the nature of the cause. Some disorders have a specific treatment but the principal treatment for most hypotonia of idiopathic or neurologic cause is physical therapy and/or occupational therapy for remediation.

Childhood development of fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements which occur e.g., in the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes. In application to motor skills of hands the term dexterity is commonly used.

Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience and psychology focusing on a child's development in terms of information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other aspects of the developed adult brain and cognitive psychology. Qualitative differences between how a child processes their waking experience and how an adult processes their waking experience are acknowledged. Cognitive development is defined as the emergence of the ability to consciously cognize, understand, and articulate their understanding in adult terms. Cognitive development is how a person perceives, thinks, and gains understanding of their world through the relations of genetic and learning factors. There are four stages to cognitive information development. They are, reasoning, intelligence, language, and memory. These stages start when the baby is about 18 months old, they play with toys, listen to their parents speak, they watch tv, anything that catches their attention helps build their cognitive development.

Vocabulary development Process of learning words

Vocabulary development is a process by which people acquire words. Babbling shifts towards meaningful speech as infants grow and produce their first words around the age of one year. In early word learning, infants build their vocabulary slowly. By the age of 18 months, infants can typically produce about 50 words and begin to make word combinations.

Visual learning is a learning style in the Fleming VAK/VARK model where a learner needs to see information in order to process it. Visual Learners can utilize graphs, charts, maps, diagrams, and other forms of visual stimulation to effectively interpret information. The Fleming VAK/VARK model also includes kinesthetic learning and auditory learning.

Language development in humans is a process starting early in life. Infants start without knowing a language, yet by 10 months, babies can distinguish speech sounds and engage in babbling. Some research has shown that the earliest learning begins in utero when the fetus starts to recognize the sounds and speech patterns of its mother's voice and differentiate them from other sounds after birth.

Early childhood is a stage in human development. It generally includes toddlerhood and some time afterwards. Play age is an unspecific designation approximately within the scope of early childhood.

Gross motor skill

Gross motor skills are the abilities usually acquired during childhood as part of a child's motor learning. By the time they reach two years of age, almost all children are able to stand up, walk and run, walk up stairs, etc. These skills are built upon, improved and better controlled throughout early childhood, and continue in refinement throughout most of the individual's years of development into adulthood. These gross movements come from large muscle groups and whole body movement. These skills develop in a head-to-toe order. The children will typically learn head control, trunk stability, and then standing up and walking. It is shown that children exposed to outdoor play time activities will develop better gross motor skills.

Child development

Child development involves the biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in human beings between birth and the conclusion of adolescence. Childhood is divided into 3 stages of life include early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. Early childhood typically ranges from infancy to the age of 6 years old. During this period, development is significant, as many of life's milestones happen during this time period such as first words, learning to crawl, and learning to walk. There is speculation that middle childhood, or ages 6–13 are the most crucial years of a child's life, ranging from the starts of some sorts of formal schooling to the beginning of puberty, and this is also the period where many children start to gain a more sense of self. Adolescence, is the stage of life that typically starts around the time puberty hits, all the way up until legal adulthood. In the course of development, the individual human progresses from dependency to increasing autonomy. It is a continuous process with a predictable sequence, yet has a unique course for every child. It does not progress at the same rate and each stage is affected by the preceding developmental experiences. Because genetic factors and events during prenatal life may strongly influence developmental changes, genetics and prenatal development usually form a part of the study of child development. Related terms include developmental psychology, referring to development throughout the lifespan, and pediatrics, the branch of medicine relating to the care of children.

Educational toy

Educational toys are objects of play, generally designed for children, which are expected to stimulate learning. They are often intended to meet an educational purpose such as helping a child develop a particular skill or teaching a child about a particular subject. They often simplify, miniaturize, or model activities and objects used by adults.

Play (activity) voluntary, intrinsically motivated recreation

Play is a range of intrinsically motivated activities done for recreational pleasure and enjoyment. Play is commonly associated with children and juvenile-level activities, but play occurs at any life stage, and among other higher-functioning animals as well, most notably mammals and birds.

Infant cognitive development is the first stage of human cognitive development, in the youngest children. The academic field of infant cognitive development studies of how psychological processes involved in thinking and knowing develop in young children. Information is acquired in a number of ways including through sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and language, all of which require processing by our cognitive system.

Fine motor skill Coordination of small muscles, particularly of the hands and fingers, with the eyes

Fine motor skill is the coordination of small muscles, in movements—usually involving the synchronisation of hands and fingers—with the eyes. The complex levels of manual dexterity that humans exhibit can be attributed to and demonstrated in tasks controlled by the nervous system. Fine motor skills aid in the growth of intelligence and develop continuously throughout the stages of human development.

In the framework of the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) the leading activity is the activity, or cooperative human action, which plays the most essential role in child development during a given developmental period. Although many activities may play a role in a child's development at any given time, the leading activity is theorized to be the type of social interaction that is most beneficial in terms of producing major developmental accomplishments, and preparing the child for the next period of development. Through engaging in leading activities, a child develops a wide range of capabilities, including emotional connection with others, motivation to engage in more complex social activities, the creation of new cognitive abilities, and the restructuring of old ones.

When adults come into contact with infants, it is unlikely that they would be able to have a proper conversation, as the infant would not know enough about pop culture or general knowledge to create a stimulating conversation for the adult. Also, the adult may not understand baby-language and cannot relate to their situation properly. Therefore, the adult often changes their persona in order to try to elicit a reaction from the infant, to teach them life lessons, or to physically stimulate them. They may simplify their speech to concise sentences or words for them to repeat, or speak in nonsensical phrases. They may make simple movements with their finger on objects for them to copy, or point to brand names/logos or people in family photos to see if they identify them. They may also choose to play one of various games, many of which are old favourites. While the parents or carers may or may not choose to do this on when alone with the child, when in the presence of guests the conversation tends to either divert completely to this type of interaction or at least have these forms of interaction take place as asides in the conversation. Sometimes the interaction is onesided, with the adult taking satisfaction with their attempts, even though the infant does not react, or react without really understanding it. At other times, the interaction is two-sided, and both parties derive pleasure or other emotions from it. Some adults do not change at all when in the presence of other families' infants.

Social emotional development represents a specific domain of child development. It is a gradual, integrative process through which children acquire the capacity to understand, experience, express, and manage emotions and to develop meaningful relationships with others. As such, social emotional development encompasses a large range of skills and constructs, including, but not limited to: self-awareness, joint attention, play, theory of mind, self-esteem, emotion regulation, friendships, and identity development.

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Further reading