- The 4 Developmental Stages of Young Children
- Newborn: 0-2 months
- Infant: 3-12 months
- Toddler: 1-3 years
- Preschool: 3-5 years
- Are you worried about your child’s development?
As a parent, understanding the basics of children’s developmental stages is very important. Not only will it help you to have appropriate expectations for what your child can and cannot do at certain points in their life, but it will also help you to recognize if your child isn’t progressing at the rate they should be.
It’s important to identify any issues in children’s development early so that they can be given any extra support they may need.
The 4 developmental stages of young children
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the four distinct developmental stages in early childhood: newborn, infant, toddler, and pre-school.
In each of these stages, we’ll list the most significant physical, cognitive, speech, and miscellaneous milestones that your child should be hitting during this time.
Newborn: 0-2 months 🤱
Physical: Newborns should be working towards being able to support the weight of their head by developing their neck muscles.
Cognitive: Newborns should be able to briefly focus on one thing for a short moment.
Speech: Newborns cry or fuss as the primary form of communication.
Miscellaneous: So much development of all kinds is going on from months 0-2, but a lot of it isn’t visible to the eye. Your baby should be meeting with their pediatrician a few times over this period, so they can ensure that everything internal is right on track.
Infant: 3-12 months 👶
Physical: Apart from obvious physical progressions like increases in height and weight, an infant will go through steady mobility development, including:
- Rolling: 4-6 months old
- Crawling: 6-12 months old
- Walking: 10-18 months old
Cognitive: Infants will begin to engage in play, recognize faces and sounds, respond to their own name, develop their memory, and begin to understand the concept of “cause and effect”.
Speech: Infants will communicate through crying and gestures, and they’ll begin to imitate sounds and words. By one year, your infant might be able to say a few simple words, such as mama, dada, no, or go.
Miscellaneous: Your infant’s personality will start to shine during this time, and you will start to get a feel for their temperament, likes and dislikes, and even interests.
Toddler: 1-3 years 🧒
Physical: Your toddler will become increasingly mobile during this time. They’ll develop gross motor skills including the ability to walk, run, jump, climb, and balance. Fine motor skills include using buttons, picking up small toys, holding a pencil, or brushing teeth. These skills will develop significantly during this time – practice makes perfect!
Cognitive: Toddlers thrive on routine, as it allows a safe space for their curious minds to explore. Developing minds are notorious for asking a lot of questions, so be prepared!
Speech: Toddlers’ speech skills will skyrocket during this developmental stage, typically knowing 150-200 words by age 3. They may be forming 2-word sentences and will be able to follow simple instructions.
Miscellaneous: Some children experience feelings of separation anxiety throughout these years. This is a normal and common part of development, and as a parent, your role is to continue to love, nurture, and support your child through these difficult times.
Preschool: 3-5 years 👧
Physical: Your preschooler will begin to seek independence when it comes to completing physical tasks such as getting dressed, using buttons and zippers, skipping, throwing, and catching.
Cognitive: Your preschooler will continue to ask tons of questions throughout each day, but their curiosity is likely to have shifted from asking about facts to questioning concepts like “why is the sky blue?”, or “where did I come from?”.
Speech: As their speech continues to advance, your child should be able to form sentences that can be understood by both family members and strangers. They should be able to express themselves verbally to varying degrees.
Miscellaneous: Your preschooler will be going through significant emotional development at this time, as they start to be able to recognize emotion in others, and distinguish between different emotions within themselves.
Parenting through children’s different developmental stages can be challenging. To set you up for success, why not check out our guide to different parenting styles or an overview of age-appropriate discipline for kids?
Are you worried about your child’s development?
Keep in mind that the guidelines we’ve set forth here are just that – guidelines. Every child is different, and young children develop in different ways and at different rates – so if your child doesn’t fall perfectly within the bounds of the age categories and milestones listed above, there’s no need to worry.
Up until the age of 2, your baby is eligible for health visitor checks which will be reassuring for parents worrying that their child may be experiencing delayed development. However, if you’re concerned that your child’s development may be significantly delayed compared to other children, it’s best to raise your worries with your child’s paediatrician. They will be able to advise you and refer you to any support services that can help you and your child. 👆