Prenatal development and genetic factors are part of child development. Normally child development refers to infancy through adolescence. There are 6 main stages of child development:
- Newborn 0-3 months old
- Infant 3-12 months old
- Toddler 1-3 years old
- Preschooler 4-6 years old
- School-aged children 6-13 years old
- Adolescent 13-18 years old
Newborn 0-3 Months
Newborn babies are completely dependent upon their parents, they do not quite understand that their parents are there to feed them and take care of them. Newborn babies also think they are a part of their parents; they have no idea that they are their own person. They only understand that they feel safe and comfortable when they are with their parents. Crying is their only form of communication and they understand that when they cry, their needs are met by their parents. Newborn babies will look at everything around them; they are only able to decipher objects close to them, which means they will look at your face a lot. They will be able to recognize the sound of your voice as they grow older.
Babies can cry for several reasons, they are hungry, tired, wet, or they just need to cry. Some babies cry because they are over-stimulated by their environment. Do not take them to loud environments and avoid taking them to large gatherings until they are ready. They will become attracted to lights, colors, shapes, and dots and they are able to recognize the human face. Babies in this stage cannot understand that they make their bodies move. They may start to work on lifting their head from the ground when they are lying down and they will start to understand by the third month that their hands belong to them. They enjoy sitting with support and seeing the world from a different angle than their back.
Infant 3-12 Months
Infant 3-12 months
Infants are understanding things and growing at a rapid pace. They are able to understand what things mean; like that milk comes from their mother or from a bottle. They are able to make cooing noises and begin exploring their vocal cords. At the end of the infant stage, they can probably say a few words and are able to make some constant sounds like high-pitched screaming and babbling. Infants will learn how to sit up on their own, crawl, and walk. Initially they perform simple tasks like rolling over and lifting their head. They will play with their feet and hands and put them in their mouth. Some babies will scoot along the floor by pushing with their arms and pushing with their legs.
Infants perform physical actions without thinking about the consequences. Everything they grab will initially go to their mouth because they are testing the objects. Their lips and mouth are sensitive and give them information about taste, size, and texture. They will search for things that are in their direct line of vision.
Several infants will suffer from separation anxiety. A simple test you can do is hand them to a person they do not see often, if they turn their head and look back to you, this is a small form of separation anxiety. They are looking for their mom and dad to reassure them that it is ok to be held by this person.
They have a perception of depth and may be afraid of falling. They will turn their head to noises and will respond to their name. If they hear you talk from another room, they will turn their head and look for you. They are able to see further and can focus on smaller objects because their eye muscles are stronger.
Infants will be able to understand some simple words like "mama" and "dada". They will be able to point to things and say the name of the object like "ball". These simple words help them grow their vocabulary. Towards the end of infancy, babies will start to mimic the behavior of others, like clapping. They can start searching for objects that have been hidden from their site and they will be able to pull themselves up to standing, some even start walking before their first birthday.
Some simple activities to do with your infant are to talk to them, and read stories to them. Point to objects in the home and say the name of the object. Singing to your infant will soothe and comfort them. Spend time playing with them and do things that make them laugh.
Toddler 1-3 Years Old
Toddlers are very busy and very curious. They want to explore and experiment with their limitations. Some toddlers can suffer from separation anxiety and they have difficulty being with other people besides their parents. Toddlers can walk on their own and they will be able to understand certain words like `yes' and `no'. They only think about their own feelings and cannot control their impulses. They will be easily distracted and energetic about new things.
Toddlers are afraid of separation and they are unable to think about the future. Sharing is difficult for them because they cannot understand that they will get a turn with a toy or with other things. Toddlers enjoy playing games, especially games that are repetitive. They like to imitate others and pretend to do things that their parents are doing, like talking on the phone or making cookies. Toddlers like to demonstrate independence and have a desire to do things on their own. They will try to dress themselves and they will want to feed themselves and choose their own food.
Their memory skills are improving and they will be able to do puzzles, color, and remember past events. Toddlers become social and like spending time with other adults and children. They can create imaginary friends and will pretend to talk to them. By the time they are 24 months old, they can run without bumping into things. They will be able to understand what items they can play with and what items are not to be touched. Toddlers can turn door knobs and can push buttons. They also start walking up and down stairs instead of crawling up and down them.
Toddlers like to play hide and go seek and play dress-up games. They can respond to questions and they like to play by themselves sometimes. Toddlers are constantly expanding their vocabulary so you may have a difficult time keeping them quiet. Teach them how to use a `quiet' voice and a `loud' voice. By the time they are 3, they can complete sentences. They are also prone to temper tantrums because they may be unable to express what they are feeling. Toddlers love to identify simple things, like animals and they like to mimic the noise the animal makes like `bark' for a dog.
Toddlers develop a sense of humor around 36 months to 48 months. They will repeat things that are funny to them and they love to laugh. If they have younger siblings, they will try to teach the infant things. They will even be able to watch the infant and keep them from touching things or doing things that may harm them. Toddlers like to be given responsibility, so try asking them to do things like cleaning off the table or helping with the garden.
Preschooler 4-6 years old
Once a child reaches the preschool years, they are able to control themselves more. They will be completely potty trained and they will be able to express their feelings to other people. They can understand that everyone has feelings and they will show empathy. They also like being with other children their age. They may have fears of things they cannot understand like darkness, noises, animals, and monsters. Some children still cling to something that gives them comfort, like a stuffed animal or a toy. They can understand the difference between a boy and a girl.
Often preschoolers can be caught lying because they are struggling with things that are real and things that are pretend. They have always assumed that their parents understand what they are thinking, so it is difficult for them to transition into the new world of being accountable for things. They enjoy physical activity and want to play outside. They will learn how to draw people and they can even start cutting with scissors. During this age, they will become cooperative with other children and they will take turns. It is important to give them activities that involve painting and drawing, because these are new skills for them that they enjoy doing.
School-aged children 6-13 years old
In the beginning school-aged children are working on their hand-eye coordination and struggle with their physical abilities. Some children will develop faster than others and this may cause some children to become frustrated. School aged children will have a short attention span in the beginning, but it grows to over an hour by the time they reach 12. Constructive activities like sports and music lessons can help them focus and release stress and tension.