Whether you just brought home your first newborn infant or have a couple little ones already running around the house, looking into the developmental stages your children should reach is always a worthy pursuit. Gaining knowledge on this topic will allow you to recognize signs of delayed or advanced development and respond accordingly. In the sections below, we will discuss the milestones a child should be reaching at each age between birth and six years of age.
For more information on how to ensure that your child develops correctly and obtains the tools necessary to lead a fulfilling life, check out this course on how to lead your children to success!
Birth to Three Months
Birth to three months is an exciting and distressing time for both parents and baby, since both parties are getting used to a brand new life flourishing beneath their roof. This time period is vastly important for the infant’s motor development since most of the major reflexes, such as rooting and sucking, appear during this stage. However, in addition to major reflexes, there are quite a few other developmental signals you should be on the look out for.
By the end of this three-month period, infants should be able to:
- Look at the mother or father’s face.
- Follow noiseless objects with its eyes.
- Be startled by sudden loud noises.
- Hold its head up when lying on its stomach.
Three to Six Months
Three to six months of age is a highly interactive learning age for infants. During this time, they are learning to recognize a wide variety of language cues, as well as enhancing motor development. Motor development skills are necessary to develop during this stage because if they are delayed, all of the other stages may be delayed as well. See your doctor if, by six months of age, your infant is not able to perform the items listed below.
By the age of six months, babies should be able to:
- Reach for toys presented to the infants just out of arm’s reach.
- Grasp toys placed within arm’s reach.
- Lift head without wobbling.
- Roll over.
Six to Nine Months
Once an infant reaches six months of age, they enter the stage in which language begins to become highly specialized and infants start to develop a preference for their parents’ native language. When an infant is born, he or she can distinguish sounds derived from every language in existence, but once the infant reaches nine months of age, he or she is only able to recognize and distinguish between sounds produced in their own language. In addition to language development, motor development continues to advance and infants reach the major milestones of sitting and standing during this age.
By the end of this period, your young one should be able to:
- Produce sounds, primarily babbling.
- Pass toys from one hand to the other.
- Feed him or herself a small item of food, such as a cracker.
- Lift small objects with the entire hand.
- Sit without support. (Typically appears closer to six months.)
- Stand with support, such as holding on to a piece of furniture. (Typically appears closer to nine months.)
Nine to Twelve Months
Between nine and twelve months, infants produce their first words, typically “mama” or “dada”, by accident. Many parents mistakenly deem this the infant’s first word, but the infant has not made the connection between the word and the object it represents, such as pointing at its mother and saying, “Mama!” Crawling and walking with support come to play during this term, as well.
By one year of age, tots should be able to:
- Play pat-a-cake.
- Slam small toys together to produce noise.
- Link the words “Dada” and “Mama” with the father and mother.
- Raise self into seated position.
- Walk with support, such as a couch or end table.
- Crawl on hands and knees.
Twelve to Eighteen Months
During this stage, motor development continues to develop, eventually leading to the ability to walk without support. In addition to this, many other minor motor development skills also present themselves during this age.
By the age of a year and a half, toddlers should be able to:
- Drink from a cup without help.
- Lift miniscule objects with the thumb and forefinger.
- Pronounce three words in addition to those that reference the infant’s parents.
- Walk without support.
- Stoop down to grab a toy while standing.
Eighteen to Twenty-Four Months
Once a toddler reaches a year and a half to two years of age, simple sentences and further motor development began to appear and children become more interactive with their environment and the people in it.
By the age of two, small children should be able to:
- Assist with simple household tasks, such as picking up his or her room.
- Undress on his or her own.
- Stack two to four blocks.
- Form simple verb-direct object sentences, such as “Want milk.”
- When prompted, point to one body part, such as eye, ear, nose, or mouth.
- Toss a ball overhand.
- Walk up the stairs without assistance.
To learn more on how to give your child the best possible life outcome, take a look at this awesome course on the optimistic child!
Two to Three Years
The development during two to three years of age focuses more on furthering motor development than language, allowing children to begin running and jumping, as well as working with minor motor development skills, such as gripping and stacking items.
By the end of this period, your child should be able to:
- Dress his or herself, with some slight assistance.
- Wash and dry his or her own hands.
- Stack several blocks (at least six).
- Use plurals*
- Follow simple directions.
- Jump up and down.
- Peddle a three-wheeler.
- Stand on one foot for a second.
*At this age, children begin to use overregularization when referring to the plural form of irregular verbs. For example, instead of saying, “he ran to school”, a two year old may say, “he runned to school.” The proper way to correct this is by repeating the statement back to the toddler correctly. Child: “I goed to the park.” Parent: “Oh, you went to the park?”
Three to Four Years
As opposed to the previous age of two to three years of age, when a child reaches three to four years, their development begins to focus on verbal and linguistic aspects. Longer sentences become more narrative in length and children begin to ask many questions.
By four years old, children should be able to:
- Use four-word sentences.
- Ask questions and know a few of the answers (this is typically when children enter the “why?” phase).
- Tell a narrative story (usually in the form of one long run-on sentence).
- Hop on one foot.
- Put shoes on, with assistance.
- Dress his or herself without help.
Four to Five Years
Once children reach four years of age, they typically begin attending preschool and interact more with other children in their age range. In addition to this, simply being in school allows children to further their linguistic and socialization development through learning directly and by observation.
By the time a child turns five years old, he or she should be able to:
- Sing simple songs.
- Count to five aloud.
- Look through picture books.
- Dress and undress without assistance.
- Understand the majority of what parents or other adults say.
- Draw a square.
- Wash face and hands without assistance.
- Play simple games and follow rules.
Five to Six Years
Between the ages of five and six, most of a child’s major motor development is complete, which allows him or her to begin playing team games, such as soccer and baseball. In addition to this, kindergarten helps enhance the minor motor development skills of these children through writing and drawing.
When a child turns six years old, he or she should be able to:
- Understand the difference between left and right.
- Name a penny, nickel, and dime.
- Count to ten.
- Blow nose without assistance.
- Bathe his or herself without help.
- Print his or her first name.
If, during this stage, you’re thinking of entering your child into an organized sport, check out this course on how to help your child in the world of soccer!
One of the most important things to remember when reading the milestones listed above is that different children develop at different times and reaching a particular milestone sooner than another child does not necessarily mean the second child is delayed. To discover more about the various aspects of parenting, take a look at this course on managing stress in children and this blog post on how to be a good parent!