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Child Development Stages:
From Birth to 6 Years

As your child grows and matures he follows along a certain sequence of child development stages.

child development stages

Although your child learns at his own pace and he may reach his developmental stages sooner than others, he learns to conquer one stage and then move on to the next stage.

These child development stages are sometimes referred to as developmental milestones.

If you are aware of your child's development stages you will have realistic expectations as to what your child can and cannot do.

Knowledge in developmental stages of your child can also take some of the guesswork and frustration out of parenting.

It is also fun to watch your child conquer child development stages and move on to the next phase in his growth and development.

Stages of child development in terms of your baby's physical development can follow this sequence of events;

  • He learns to lift his head when lying on his belly
  • Eventually he can bear weight on his outstretched arms
  • One day he rolls over on his back
  • Then he can roll into a sitting position
  • He then is strong enough to roll into a squatting position
  • From that squatting position he eventually begins to crawl... and so on.

Your baby typically follow this sequence of developmental stages, but not all babies will crawl at the same age, but babies typically won't learn to crawl until after they have learned to sit.

You can support your infant’s physical development by allowing him enough 'tummy time' to allow him to develop the muscles in his neck that will give him the ability to lift his head.

If your baby spends the majority of his time in car seats, baby seats, swings or bassinets, he won't have opportunities to work on these important physical development stages.

Your baby's language development also follows a sequence of child development stages. He learn to coo in response to your voice or someone else's' voice.

Eventually that cooing develops into an attempt at imitating sounds he hears. He then begin to say words meaningfully such as 'da-da'. And then he begins to combine words together.

You can encourage your child's language development by speaking in simple direct terms to him... but avoiding baby talk.

You should also model polite speech so that he will naturally copy saying please, thank you and excuse me.

And read to him often. He may not understand everything on the page, but he can still enjoy the story and it is an excellent way to spend time with him and build his vocabulary.

His language comprehension develops at an incredible rate by the time he is two years. And the more he is spoken to the more he understands and eventually, the more he will learn to say.

The vocabulary of your average two-year-old is up to 200 words.

Child Development Stages Chart

Each child's progress is individual to them and that different children develop at different rates. A child does not suddenly move from one phase to another, and they do not make progress in all areas at the same time.

However, there are some important 'steps' for each child to take along their own developmental pathway. Below are typical child development stages of children from birth to 6 years.

Remember that the child development stages chart below are averages and some children may reach various child development stages earlier or later than others. Please use this information to help you understand what to expect from your child and any questions about your child's development should be discussed with your child's doctor.

Child Development Stages:
Birth to 6 Years

Birth - 12 Months
During this period, young children's physical development is very rapid and they gain increasing control of their muscles. They also develop skills in moving their hands, feet, limbs and head, quickly becoming mobile and able to handle and manipulate objects.

They are learning from the moment of birth. Even before their first words they find out a lot about language by hearing people talking, and are especially interested when it involves themselves and their daily lives.

Sensitive caregiving, which responds to children's growing understanding and emotional needs, helps to build secure attachments to special people such as parents, family members or carers.

Regular, though flexible, routines help young children to gain a sense of order in the world and to anticipate events. A wide variety of experience, which involves all the senses, encourages learning and an interest in the environment.

1 - 2 Years
As children become mobile new opportunities for exploration and exercise open up. A safe and interesting environment, with age-appropriate resources, helps children to develop curiosity, coordination and physical abilities.

This is a time when children can start to learn the beginnings of self-control and how to relate to other people. In this period children can be encouraged to develop their social and mental skills by people to whom they have a positive attachment.

Building on their communication skills, children now begin to develop a sense of self and are more able to express their needs and feelings.

Alongside non-verbal communication children learn a few simple words for everyday things and people. With encouragement and plenty of interaction with carers, children's communication skills grow and their vocabulary expands very rapidly during this period.

2 - 3 Years
Children in this phase are usually full of energy and need careful support to use it well. Growing physical strengths and skills mean that children need active times for exercise, and quiet times for calmer activities.

Playing with other children is an important new area for learning. This helps children to better understand other people's thoughts and feelings, and to learn how to cooperate with others.

Exploration and simple self-help builds a sense of self-confidence. Children are also learning about boundaries and how to handle frustration.

Play with toys that come apart and fit together encourages problem solving and simple planning. Pretend play helps children to learn about a range of possibilities. Adults are an important source of security and comfort.

3 - 4 Years
Children's fine motor skills continue to develop and they enjoy making marks, using a variety of materials, looking at picture books and listening to stories, important steps in literacy.

Self-help and independence soon emerge if adults support and encourage children in areas such as eating, dressing and toileting. Praise for new achievements helps to build their self-esteem. In this phase, children's language is developing rapidly and many are beginning to put sentences together.

Joining in conversations with children is an important way for children to learn new things and to begin to think about past, present and future.

Developing physical skills mean that children can now usually walk, climb and run, and join in active play with other children. This is an important time for learning about dangers and safe limits.

4 - 5 Years
An increased interest in joint play such as make-believe, construction and games helps children to learn the important social skills of sharing and cooperating.

Children also learn more about helping adults in everyday activities and finding a balance between independence and complying with the wishes of others. Children still need the comfort and security of special people.

Close, warm relationships with carers form the basis for much learning, such as encouraging children to make healthy choices in food and exercise.

At this stage children are becoming more aware of their place in a community. Literacy and numeracy can develop rapidly with the support of a wide range of interesting materials and activities.

Children's language is now much more complex, as many become adept at using longer sentences. Conversations with adults become a more important source of information, guidance and reassurance.

5 - 6 Years
During this period children are now building a stronger sense of their own identity and their place in a wider world.

Children are learning to recognise the importance of social rules and customs, to show understanding and tolerance of others, and to learn how to be more controlled in their own behaviour.

Learning and playing in small groups helps to foster the development of social skills. Children now become better able to plan and undertake more challenging activities with a wider range of materials for making and doing.

In this phase children learn effectively in shared activities with more able peers and adults. Literacy and problem solving, reasoning and numeracy skills continue to develop.

Children's developing understanding of cause and effect is encouraged by the introduction of a wider variety of equipment, media and technologies.

Click here to learn more about developmental stages of a child.

See Also Child Development Milestone Related Articles...

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