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Child Care Aware of Eastern Washington

Stages of Development

The following is an overview of the stages of development your child will go through from birth to five years old. Remember that children grow and develop at their own pace.

Birth to six months

  • Sleeps an average of 15 hours per day
  • Able to track objects by sight and sound
  • Begins to smile, later laughs out loud
  • Loves bright and contrasting colors
  • Able to lift head; later able to support head on own
  • Rolls over on own
  • Primary source of nutrition is breast milk or formula
  • Reaches and touches things
  • Makes babbling or gurgling sounds

Six to nine months

  • May sleep through the night
  • Sits up on own
  • Begins on solid foods
  • Begins to crawl
  • Enjoys interactive games, such as peekaboo
  • Puts things in mouth a lot
  • Teething may begin
  • Loves finger games and songs
  • Enjoys playing with and mouthing soft toys

Nine months to one year

  • May get onto a more regular sleep schedule, with one morning and one afternoon nap
  • Begins to drink from a cup, and is able to feed self with finger foods
  • Pulls self up from sitting to standing position
  • Begins to "cruise" (walking while holding onto things)
  • Likes to be around other children, beginning to be more social
  • Laughs out loud frequently
  • Claps hands together, responds to music by "dancing"
  • May have a special blanket or toy
  • Realizes when he is separate from parent
  • May develop "stranger anxiety," a fear of new people

One year to two years

  • Still napping during the day
  • Begins to acquire more body control, becomes aware of own body and self
  • Stands up on own, and begins to take steps
  • Able to feed self on more regular basis
  • May develop picky eating habits
  • Watches and imitates behavior of others
  • Speech and language development are very important -- first in single words, later in simple sentences
  • May develop "irrational" fears and anxieties
  • Learns to run and jump
  • May begin toilet-training
  • Learns self-help skills
  • Testing of limits that are set around behavior or safety -- says "no" a lot
  • Wants control over surroundings
  • Loves routines and consistency
  • Relatively short attention span, goes from one activity to another quickly
  • May show frustration through temper tantrums
  • Engages in "parallel play" with peers (side-by-side play)
  • Transitions in the day can be very hard
  • Begins to learn concept of cause and effect
  • Begins to demonstrate empathy for others (e.g., if another child is upset)
  • May show aggressive behavior through biting, hitting, and pushing
  • Develops gender identity

Two years nine months to five years

  • May still nap during the day (for shorter periods of time)
  • Gains much more body control; becomes fully toilet trained
  • Better able to express himself through words
  • Able to play cooperatively with other children
  • Starts to have more self-control over behavior
  • Develops close attachments or "best friends"
  • Still not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality
  • Acts out a lot of fears and anxieties; nightmares may occur
  • Still needs control, may have set ideas of what to wear or eat
  • Transitions can still be hard
  • May experiment with lying or telling tales
  • Develops awareness of death
  • Loves to engage in dramatic or fantasy play


The American Academy of Pediatrics. Shelow, Steven, ed. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child. New York: Bantam Books, 1991.

Schor, Edward L., ed. Caring for Your School-Age Child. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.

Brazelton, T. Berry. Touchpoints. Addison Wesley, 1992.

Eisenberg, Arlene, Murkoff, Heidi E., and Sandee E. Hathaway, (eds.) What to Expect the First Year. Workman Publishing Co., 1989.

Leach, Penelope. Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1989.