Child Development

Your baby’s growth is more than just physical. Children grow, develop, and learn throughout their lives.

From birth to 5 years, your baby will develop new skills that include playing, learning, and speaking. Smiling for the first time, making eye contact, and pointing are a few of the milestones along the way.

Because children usually develop in a certain way within certain periods of time, you can predict when your baby will start to do new things. However, all babies develop at their own pace, so there is no exact timetable for learning a skill. For example, babies learn to walk between 9 and 15 months, so don’t worry if your baby is not walking by 12 months.

Developmental milestones are just some of the things you should be looking for as your child grows. Use the list below as a guide, and if you have any concerns, talk with your child’s health care provider.

By the end of 3 months, many children are able to:
  • smile back at another person
  • mimic some movements and facial expressions
  • grasp and shake small toys
  • follow moving objects.
By the end of 7 months, many children are able to:
  • turn their head when their name is called
  • respond to sound with their own sounds
  • play peek-a-boo or other social games
  • babble chains of sounds.
By the end of 12 months, many children are able to:
  • use simple gestures (waving “bye-bye”)
  • make sounds such as “ma” and “da”
  • mimic actions when they are playing (clap when you clap)
  • respond when told “no.”
By the end of 18 months, many children are able to:
  • do simple pretend play (“talk” on a toy phone)
  • point to interesting objects
  • look at an object when you point and tell them to “look!”
  • use several single words unprompted.

Questions to Ask Your Child’s Health Care Provider

  • What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s progress?
  • Where can I get more information?

It’s normal to measure your child’s growth in terms of height and weight. But don’t forget to look at all the other ways your child is growing, too.

From birth to 5 years, there are milestones your child should reach in terms of how he or she plays, learns, speaks and acts. A delay in any of these areas may signal a developmental problem or autism. The good news is that the earlier it’s recognized, the more you can do to help your child reach his or her full potential. Talk with your child’s health care provider about overall development.

To Learn More…

Public Health Agency of Canada: www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

From Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 by Steven Shelov, Robert E. Hannermann, (c) 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Used by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Baird, G., Charman, T., Baron-Cohen, S., Cox, A., Swettenham, J., Wheelwright, S., and Drew, A. (2000), A Screening Instrument for Autism at 18 Months of Age: A 6-Year Follow-up Study. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 39:694-702.