What Are the 5 Stages of Child Development?

Medically Reviewed on 7/2/2021

Children undergo various changes in terms of physical, speech, intellectual and cognitive development gradually until adolescence. The five stages of child development include the newborn, infant, toddler, preschool and school-age stages.
Children undergo various changes in terms of physical, speech, intellectual and cognitive development gradually until adolescence. The five stages of child development include the newborn, infant, toddler, preschool and school-age stages.

Children undergo various changes in terms of physical, speech, intellectual and cognitive development gradually until adolescence. Specific changes occur at specific ages of life. Known as developmental milestones, these changes can help you track whether your child is developing at the correct pace. Failure to reach these milestones may indicate developmental disorders or genetic conditions.

Experts differ in their division of child development into different stages. Some have described children's development in four stages, some in five stages and others in six stages. Although the number of stages differs, what remains essentially the same are the changes that take place at a particular age or age range. Because most developmental disorders are diagnosed by the time a child reaches adolescence, child development can be described in the five stages below.

1. Newborn:

During the first two months of life, newborns react automatically to external stimuli. Newborns can move their head from side to side, see close-up objects, turn towards sounds and cry to indicate a need. By the third month of life, newborns start to smile at people.

2. Infant:

A lot of new abilities develop quickly by the time a child turns one year old.

At three to six months of age, infants can recognize familiar faces, begin to babble, control their head movements and bring their hands together.

By six to nine months of age, infants start sitting without support, may bounce when held in a standing position and respond to people calling their name. Infants start communicating with gestures.

Between nine and 12 months old, children can point at things, pick up objects, crawl and even stand with support. Children can imitate sound and gestures.

3. Toddler:

When children are between one and three years of age, they can stand alone, learn to walk without help, begin to run and climb stairs with short steps. Children can wave bye-bye, hold a pencil or crayon, draw a circle, learn to say several words and even short sentences and even follow simple instructions.

4. Preschool:

Between three and five years of age, children’s motor skills become refined. Children can throw and catch a ball, skip and hop, learn to dress themselves and draw proper structures such as a flower. They can speak a complete, long sentence and even two to three sentences in a stretch easily. With toilet training, they begin to go to the toilet in the bathroom and use the facility all by themselves by the age of four years olds.

5. School-age:

School-age is the age between six to 17 years old. During this age, children learn to become independent and form their own opinions. Learning, speaking and writing become well established. Children develop various emotions such as jealousy, love and many more and can express them through words and gestures. They develop friendships and usually make best friends at this stage. Sexual development around and after puberty makes children interested in dating.

If you are concerned that your child is lagging in a certain stage of life, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to discuss it. The pediatrician may perform a developmental screening test that can help you know whether your child is normal or has some developmental disorder.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/2/2021
References
Cleveland Clinic: "Ages & Stages." https://my.clevelandclinic.org/pediatrics/health/stages#overview-tab

CHOC: "Child Development Guide: Ages and Stages." https://www.choc.org/primary-care/ages-stages/