Ages and Stages- What to Expect From Your Child From Infancy to Three Years of Age
Young children do not mature or learn at the same level. Some are able to grasp things much quicker, and others take their time in learning to read, write, or achieving basic motor skills. Early childhood education teachings should not dwell on the age of the child, but rather their ability. We all progress at our own pace and children are no different. Here are some general milestones to look for as your child matures. These milestones act as guides in order to reveal any underlying issues that can be addressed early on.
The infant age group is broken into several different milestones according to how many months old the child is. For example, a baby that is two months of age should be moving their legs and arms. By the four-month mark, they should be lifting their head and starting to push up on their elbows. By six months, infants should be able to sit up, hand objects from one hand to the other, and be able to roll over. Other skills include being able to touch books or pictures, help turn pages, and make sounds, and respond to sounds. Again, these are basic, foundational skills to look for in your child as they begin to acknowledge their world.
As a one-year-old, infants have matured to a stage where their motor and learning skills have enhanced significantly. By this age, they are aware of ongoings around them and love to grab and throw things, which is perfectly normal. They should be able to hold their own cups and be able to stand- either with or without some assistance. At this age, some children are able to take a few steps with some help.
As one-year old’s they should be able to recognize things they like, such as their favorite toy or book. This also includes people. Children in this age group can recognize influential figures in their lives, such as parents or grandparents, especially if they have been seen repeatedly. They may be able to say a word or two like “mommy” or “daddy,” or a word from a book they have heard repeatedly. At this age, they may also hand you things or make noises or cry to get your attention.
The “terrible twos” are infamous throughout the realm of parenting. Children at this age have become more independent. Communication will have increased and with that some defiance. Children two years of age or older may imitate what they see their parents or other children doing, and basic concepts of playing pretend are seen. As parents, your two-year-old may not play with children, but rather alongside them instead, and that is perfectly normal for this age group.
Two-year-olds should be able to walk/run, hold their own objects such as a crayon, a utensil, a toothbrush, etc. Their mobility will have increased by this age, and they can climb up and down stairs and throw things, much to every parent’s delight.
By the age of three, your child should be mobile. The should be able to jump using both feet, draw or scribble, turn door handles, and configure simple puzzles. Children at this age know which way to hold a book and begin to match sounds to their corresponding letters. Children three years of age or more know that reading goes from left to right, and can recognize some letters of the alphabet, along with familiar pictures, signs, labels, etc. Recognition at this age increases, and you may see your child reach and play for their favorite things, and can readily recognize people, faces, and their favorite things.
What Do I Do if My Child Isn’t Reaching Their Milestones?
If young children aren’t reaching their milestones, there may be several reasons. Some children are simply late bloomers. Others may have older siblings that might respond to your child instead of them conveying their own needs. For example, if the child wants something, the sibling may simply hand it to them or have it readily available. If your child seems to be struggling with certain physical milestones, they could possibly have underdeveloped muscles that prevent them from crawling or standing. Another reason is that the child may be a bit shy or reserved around certain people or just in general. Keep these things in mind when observing your child as they play and grow.
If you are concerned about missing any of these general milestones, you can ask your doctor. Make a list of items you are concerned about and bring it up at the next visit. Your doctor can offer suggestions as to what solutions are available. Physical therapy can help with underdeveloped muscles, and child development screenings can offer suggestions on what areas to improve, such as emotional, social, or intellectual development and how to achieve milestones in each. There is no reason to panic or worry if you are concerned. Write down your concerns and make them heard. It is better to be on the safe side and mention specific milestones that are lacking because then a safe and effective solution can be created to help your child.
Michelle Dell’Aquila, M.A.
Director of the CDA program
Michelle Dell’Aquila, M.A. is a licensed child therapist who is currently the director of CDA, a program geared for infants to 5-year-old providing developmental assessments, advice to parents at home and for teachers in schools.