Stages of Child Development by Age

Do you often worry if your child’s development is on track? As first-time parents, I often turn to research to check if my children are on the right track of development according to their age. This helps me know what to expect, how to support them through the changes, and when to be worried. In this article, I will be sharing some of the research I have done and tricks I have learned along the way.

What are the stages of child development? From infancy to adolescence, our child goes through growth and development that doesn’t only pertain to the physical changes. Intellectual, verbal and social-emotional changes also take place. 

Here is an overview of the developmental stages that you can observe in your child’s growth.

Stages of child development by age

Milestones at 1 year old

What physical changes can I expect at this age?

Your baby is now a toddler. His body’s growth slows down at this age, as he is becoming more active. His first molar tooth may appear soon. As his knees and legs grow stronger, he begins to stand upright and walk. He may also start climbing onto low furniture and stairs. 

At this age, his grip improves and he can now pick up small objects and scribble on paper. Mealtime gets easier because he is now capable of feeding himself using his hands or a spoon, and drinking from a cup. 

From multiple naps a day, his naptime goes down to one long snooze in the afternoon. He can sleep for 10-12 hours at night. 

What intellectual changes can I expect?

Reasoning with your child may become easier as he begins to understand cause-and-effect. He can also catch on simple questions and commands (for example, “Where’s the car?”). At this stage, he becomes more curious about his environment and often gets into things. It’s easier for him to recognize family members now.

What can my child say at this age?

It is easier for your child to copy animal sounds and noises. He can have a vocabulary of up to 50 words and start to use simple phrases or two-word sentences.

What social-emotional changes will my child go through?

Your developing child may start having tantrums as he figures out his emotions and tests out boundaries. He can be better at playing alone for short periods of time now. When you are not around, he can find security in a stuffed animal or a blanket.

How can you help your child through these changes?

At this stage, your child may still lack coordination and balance but he is becoming more active. That is why it is very important to keep a close eye on him while enabling him to explore and become more independent. You can give him educational toys for his age to stimulate his imagination and creativity. Expand your child’s vocabulary by reading books to him before bedtime.

Milestones at 2 years old

What physical changes can I expect at this age?

Around your child’s second birthday, his growth continues to slow down, and he starts to lose his baby appearance. He can walk and run more steadily as he gains more balance. You may observe him jumping awkwardly. His legs are also strong enough to ride baby tricycles. He has more control of his hands and he can now turn book pages, hold crayons for scribbling, turn knobs and lids.

At this age, your child begins to develop bladder and bowel control. You may also notice a decrease in his appetite. Your child may show independence. This will show up in his playtime with more imagination and interactivity. 

He still takes one long afternoon nap and sleeps for up to 10 hours at night.

What intellectual changes can I expect?

Your child begins to recognize his own possessions. He is also very likely to imitate what adults are doing and saying. Because his brain is developing, counting and problem-solving are very interesting activities for him.

What can my child say at this age?

By now, your child’s vocabulary has expanded to 200-300 words. He will use more words in his sentences. He can name pictures, objects and body parts a lot easier. At this time, you can teach him basic responses like, “thank you,” “welcome,” and “please”.

What social-emotional changes will my child go through?

He may start to show independence from parents. With this sense of independence, you may observe some tantrums. You may hear the word “no” frequently. In this period, your child still doesn’t understand the concept of sharing. 

How can you help your child through these changes?

Children are retentive at this stage so it is very important to establish routines and habits. It may be a good time to introduce them to simple chores around the house and tasks like washing hands and putting clothes on. You can also start potty training at this age. One tip for  reducing tantrums by giving your child choices (for example, what color of shirt to wear).

Milestones at 3 years old

What physical changes can I expect at this age?

By now, your child’s body becomes slimmer and he starts to lose the rounded tummy of a toddler. Twenty of his baby teeth may have already appeared and his vision is nearing 20/20. He can now run, jump and walk upstairs easily and without assistance. 

Hygiene habits can be developed at this age as he becomes more capable of brushing his teeth, washing his hands, bathing and using the potty. He also has better concentration on play and tasks.

Nap times may be gone at this age as he starts to resist it. Night sleep can last up to 13 hours at this point. 

What intellectual changes can I expect?

Size differences are easier for you child to distinguish by now. He can understand past tense (for example – “yesterday”), preposition (for example – “on, under, beside”), pronouns (for example – “he, us, I”) as well. The question “why” may be a frequent sound in your household at this stage. Your child has a better memory now.

What can my child say at this age?

By this time, your child knows about 500-900 words. His speech is more understandable as he becomes more talkative and expressive. He can also remember simple rhymes and lyrics from nursery songs. He may also use his name to refer to himself a lot.

What social-emotional changes will my child go through?

As you child learns to express and handle his emotions, tantrums may occur less. Although, he may still whine or cry requesting reassurance of love. By now, he has already learned to share and take turns. In spite of that, he may show feelings of jealousy towards his siblings.

It is very important for him to feel included in everything. Adult’s approval is also very important for him and he may seem very sensitive to disapproval. He may project guilt feelings when he has done something wrong.

At this stage, his imagination grows a lot and may begin to have fears and night terrors. Nevertheless, tasks and chores get a little bit easier as he learns to cooperate and take up more responsibilities.

How can you help your child through these changes?

Your child is going through a lot of emotional changes. Throughout this change, he needs your love and reassurance. Always respond positively, as much as possible, and extend your patience. This may be a great time to explain what basic things are and how they function. You could also encourage their independence and creativity.

Milestones at preschool years (4-5 years old)

What physical changes can I expect at this age?

By the time your child is in his preschool years, his body has great coordination and balance. He can now skip and hop on one foot, and catch objects better. As he starts school, tools like pens, scissors and glue are easier for him to handle. He has no difficulties in dressing himself. In addition, he will be able to learn how to tie his own shoes.

What intellectual changes can I expect?

During these years, your child is able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. The concept of time, days and months is familiar to him as well. He will be more curious about the basic facts about the world. Your child may also be better at following your rules now. 

What can my child say at this age?

He can compose longer sentences with 4-8 words now. This is the point where your child asks questions constantly, talks frequently and likes to tell stories. By now, he may be able to name colors, shapes and the alphabet. He can also understand commands with multiple instructions.

What social-emotional changes will my child go through?

At this age, expect your child to be very independent, bossy, self-assertive and a little boastful. He may change moods quickly. He likes playing pretend but he can also play well with others and some imaginary playmates. His manners may be well developed and established by now.

How can you help your child through these changes?

During this important stage, encouraging your child to talk and express his feelings are very important. Give him compliments for good behaviors and achievements. Teach your child to express his negative emotions in a calm manner. Always encourage him to explore and be creative.

Milestones at Grade School years (6-12 years old)

What physical changes can I expect at this age?

Now that your child is in grade school, he may start losing his baby teeth. His movements are more graceful and controlled. He is at the point where he enjoys many activities and stays busy most of the time. He is showing more creativity through his drawings and paintings. 

He can now groom and dress himself completely on his own.

What intellectual changes can I expect?

He can understand many concepts like time, numbers, letters and money at this age. He can also tell the difference between nighttime and daytime. He may be getting better at reading and writing. Explaining certain objects and their uses is not hard for him now.

What social-emotional changes will my child go through?

Copying adults is very common in this stage in your child’s life. You may see him playing alone or enjoy playing with other children as well. He will like joining clubs and groups, and entering competitions and games. He may converse with others a lot.

Parents gain respect and love from their child at this stage.


Every child is different. They may develop and grow on a different rate and timeline. As such, parents should be very careful not to put pressure on their children to achieve certain milestones when they are not ready for them. Nevertheless, it is important to note that when your child seems too late on a certain stage, it is best to consult a pediatrician for further checking.

Going through changes may be challenging for your child and it is very important for him to feel your support and guidance. 

Related questions

What are the effects of technology to a child’s development? According to some experts, usage of gadgets within limits is advisable. Generally, a slightly higher usage may lead to health and behavioral problems. Hence, children should be engaged in other activities and should be interacted with constantly.

Are toys necessary for development? Educational toys can help develop some important skills like problem-solving. It also teaches children about sharing, helps develop their fine and gross motor skills and nurtures their creativity and imagination.


child, child care, Child development, Children, Parenting, young children


Casual writer on engaging education topics.

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