As any guardian or parent-to-be knows, the early years of a child’s life are critical for their future. Their brains are hardwired to adapt, analyze and seek out patterns that facilitate their growth and help them move through life with ease.
However, there are subtle (and not so subtle) events between the ages of 0 and 5 that parents should familiarize themselves with before their baby’s arrival. Although this period may overwhelm some individuals and cause their anxiety to mount, planning ahead is the best way to keep your mind and body at ease! If your child is not showcasing these developmental milestones listed below, seeking guidance from a pediatrician is advised. Here’s what to expect!
Newborn Through Age 2
Did you know a newborn’s brain develops to nearly 85% of its capacity within the first five years of their life? That means, in a loose sense, their behavioral patterns and mannerisms can be pushed in a positive direction from day one by understanding what’s appropriate and what needs to be addressed by medical professionals.
Within the first six months, parents should notice signs of emotional intelligence beginning to show. Behaviors like smiling, laughing, lifting their head unassisted, rolling over and reacting to sounds are good indicators their brain is developing in a productive way.
Once you’ve passed the 6-month mark, their emotional intelligence should be in an area where they understand basic commands such as telling them ‘no,’ reacting to their name, assisted standing, newfound interest in toys and verbalizing consonants.
This moment is precious for parents as it’s the first time their child can interact with them in a rudimentary way. From this point forward, your child’s personality will expand weekly!
Now that you’re in the 9-to-18 month range, your child is soaring to new heights and taking their environment by storm! Actions like playing little games, interacting with other newborns, walking a few steps, attempting to repeat phrases and saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ are commonplace. Once your child reaches the 18-month mark, things start becoming exciting!
At this stage, your child may develop habits and behaviors that need gentle correcting. Throwing tantrums, tossing their food onto the floor, yelling for no reason and fake-crying to get their way should be addressed by parents. However, behaviors like clinging to family members, drawing, holding utensils and speaking a handful of words are tell-tale signs that your child is healthy and growing!
This part of a child’s life is a beautiful blend of socializing, independent behavior and understanding how the world around them functions at a basic level. At this stage, parents should expect their children to socialize with friends, family members and other kids around their age.
In conjunction with their increasing social acuity, children around 2-years old will begin demonstrating their ability to think logically and express their creativity. If your child can play make-believe with an adult and point to their favorite cartoon characters on television or in a book, they’re on the right path!
As their brain forms neural connections and develops pattern recognition, make-believe stories and fantasies captivate their thought process. Your pediatrician will also look for signs of improved motor-skill function, such as the ability to throw an object, kick a ball accurately and run unassisted.
Now that your child is developing a social circle and interacting with others, demonstrating the ability to show compassion and understanding is imperative. Actions like helping other toddlers achieve a task, reacting to another child in distress, repeating their name and their friend’s name and speaking in small sentences should happen organically.
From here, parents should take note of their child’s physical abilities. Can your toddler use staircases without your aide? Can they use a bicycle with ease when training wheels are attached to the bike’s frame? Do they have the ability to jog and sprint? While each child has varying degrees of athleticism, the ability to use a building’s architecture and perform physically demanding tasks is crucial.
At the 4-year mark, signs of their unique personality will start to surface in front of your eyes. Now that they’re interacting with other toddlers and understanding the subtleties of human interaction and emotion, they create their own personalities to stand out from the crowd. Although this may sound confusing, here’s what parents should expect to see:
- Coherent storytelling and imagination expression
- Make-believe is becoming more life-like
- Can identify colors and numerical values
- Has interests, hobbies and dislikes
- Catches objects out of the air at varying velocities
As your child moves out of toddler-dom and transitions into school for the first time, parents must look for signs of independent behavior and mildly-complex language formation. We know this age can be somewhat tricky, so we put together a brief checklist of mannerisms your child should master before they venture off on their own for the first time:
- Attempts to fit in with newfound friends
- Can clearly distinguish between fantasy and reality
- Speaks in coherent and logical sentences when required
- Run, jump, climb, throw, balance and move without conscious effort
- Ability to judge time and understand past, present and future tense
If you have any questions or reservations about how your child is progressing through their milestones, please give us a call.