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Stages of Child Development (Birth to 5 Years)


This page presents an overview of child development from birth to five years of age. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range. This information is presented to help parents understand what to expect from their child. Any questions you may have about your child's development should be shared with his or her doctor.

  Physical and Language Emotional Social
1 month
Feedings: 5-8 per day

Sleep: 20 hrs per day

Sensory Capacities: makes basic distinctions in vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch, temperature, and perception of pain 
Generalized Tension Helpless
Fed by mother
2 -3  months Sensory Capacities: color perception, visual exploration, oral exploration.

Sounds: cries, coos, grunts

Motor Ability: control of eye muscles, lifts head when on stomach. Delight
Distress Smiles at a Face Visually fixates at a face, smiles at a face, may be soothed by rocking.
4  - 6 months Sensory Capacities: localizes sounds

Sounds: babbling, makes most vowels and about half of the consonants

Feedings: 3-5 per day
Motor Ability: control of head and arm movements, purposive grasping, rolls over.
Enjoys being cuddled  Recognizes his mother. Distinguishes between familiar persons and strangers, no longer smiles indiscriminately.

Expects feeding, dressing, and bathing.
7  - 9 months Motor Ability: control of trunk and hands, sits without support, crawls about. Specific emotional attachment to mother. Protests separation from mother. Enjoys "peek-a-boo"
10 months
12 months
Motor Ability: control of legs and feet, stands, creeps, apposition of thumb and fore-finger.

Language: says one or two words, imitates sounds, responds to simple commands.

Feedings: 3 meals, 2 snacks

Sleep: 12 hours, 2 naps Anger

Fear of strangers

Curiosity, exploration
 Responsive to own name.

Wave bye-bye.

Plays pat-a-cake, understands "no-no!"

Gives and takes objects.
1 - 1 ½ yrs  Motor Ability: creeps up stairs, walks (10-20 min), makes lines on paper with crayon. Dependent Behavior
Very upset when separated
from mother

Fear of Bath
Obeys limited commands.

Repeats a few words.

Interested in his mirror image.

Feeds himself.
1 ½  -
2 yrs
Motor Ability: runs, kicks a ball, builds 6 cube tower (2yrs) Capable of bowel and bladder control.

Language: vocabulary of more than 200 words

Sleep: 12 hours at night, 1-2 hr nap
Temper tantrums
Resentment of new baby Does opposite of what he is told (18 months).
2 - 3 yrs Motor Ability: jumps off a step, rides a tricycle, uses crayons, builds a 9-10 cube tower.

Language: starts to use short sentences controls and explores world with language, stuttering may appear briefly. Fear of separation

Negativistic (2 ½ yrs)

Violent emotions, anger

Differentiates facial expressions of anger, sorrow, and joy.

Sense of humor (Plays tricks)
Talks, uses "I" "me" "you"

Copies parents' actions.

Dependent, clinging, possessive about toys, enjoys playing alongside another child.

Negativism (2 ½ yrs).

Resists parental demands.

Gives orders.

Rigid insistence on sameness of routine. Inability to make decisions.
3 - 4 yrs Motor Ability: Stands on one leg, jumps up and down, draws a circle and a cross (4 yrs)
Self-sufficient in many routines of home life. Affectionate toward parents.

Pleasure in genital manipulation

Romantic attachment to parent of opposite sex
(3 to 5 yrs)

Jealousy of same-sex parent.

Imaginary fears of dark, injury, etc. (3 to 5 years)
Likes to share, uses "we"

Cooperative play with other children, nursery school. Imitates parents.

Beginning of identification with same-sex parent, practices sex-role activities. Intense curiosity & interest in other children's bodies.

Imaginary friend.
4  - 5 yrs Motor ability: mature motor control, skips, broad jumps, dresses himself, copies a square and a triangle.

Language: talks clearly, uses adult speech sounds, has mastered basic grammar, relates a story, knows over 2,000 words
(5 yrs)
Responsibility and guilt

Feels pride in accomplishment
Prefers to play with other children, becomes competitive prefers sex-appropriate activities