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Raising Children

Child Development

Find out what you can expect throughout the growth of your child.

Stages of Child Development

Understanding your child’s changing and emerging growth and development is an important part of parenting. Each child is individual and may develop at slightly different rates but we can still help guide you through the stages of child development from newborn, right through to adolescence.

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

In the first month of life, babies usually catch up and surpass their birth weight, then steadily continue to gain weight. A weight loss up to about 10% of birthweight is normal in the first 2 to 3 days after birth. However, the baby should have gained this back and be at his or her birthweight by about 2 weeks.

  • Weight: after the first 2 weeks, your baby should gain about 1 ounce each day.
  • Average length at birth:
    • 20 inches for boys
    • 19 3/4 inches for girls
  • Average length at 1 month:
    • 21 1/2 inches for boys
    • 21 inches for girls
  • Head size: increases to slightly less than 1 inch more than birth measurement by the end of the first month.
Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

Although a newborn spends about 16 hours a day sleeping, the time a baby is awake can be busy. Much of a newborn’s movements and activity are reflexes or involuntary. As the nervous system begins to mature, these reflexes give way to purposeful behaviors.

Reflexes in newborns include the following:

  • Root reflex – Happens when the corner of the baby’s mouth is stroked or touched which triggers them to move their head towards finding the breast or bottle.
  • Suck reflex – When the roof of the baby’s mouth is touched with the breast or bottle nipple, the baby will begin to suck. This reflex begins at 32nd week of pregnancy and is not fully developed until about 36 weeks. Premature babies may have a weak or immature sucking ability.
  • Moro reflex – Often called a startle reflex as it usually happens when a baby is startled by a loud sound or movement. In response, the baby throws back his or her head, throws out his or her arms and legs, cries, then pulls his or her arms and legs back in. The Moro reflex lasts until the baby is about 5 to 6 months old.
  • Tonic neck reflex – When a baby’s head is turned to one side, the arm on that side stretches out and the opposite arm bends up at the elbow. This is often called the “fencing” position. The tonic neck reflex lasts until the baby is about 6 to 7 months old.
  • Grasp reflex – With the grasp reflex, stroking the palm of a baby’s hand causes the baby to close his or her fingers in a grasp. The grasp reflex lasts only a couple of months and is stronger in premature babies.
  • Babinski reflex – With the Babinski reflex, when the sole of the foot is firmly stroked, the big toe bends back toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out. This is a normal reflex until the child is about 2 years old.
  • Step reflex – This reflex is also called the walking or dance reflex because a baby appears to take steps or dance when held upright with his or her feet touching a solid surface.
Speech

What can my baby say?

At this early age, crying is a baby’s only form of communication. At first, all of a baby’s cries sound similar, but parents soon recognize different types of cries for hunger, discomfort, frustration, fatigue, and even loneliness. Other times, the cause of the crying can be a mystery and crying stops as quickly as it begins.

Regardless of the cause, responding to your baby’s cries with a comforting touch and words are essential in helping your baby learn to trust you and rely on you for love and security. You may also use warmth and rocking movements to comfort your baby.

Knowledge

What does my baby understand?

You may find that your baby responds in many ways, such as reacting to noises, smiling or looking at faces and pictures.

Development

How to help increase your baby’s development and emotional security

Young babies need the security of a parent’s arms. They understand the reassurance and comfort of your voice, tone, and emotions. Talking in a soothing voice, singing to your baby, holding them face to face and rocking them in a gentle rhythm will help them feel secure and loved.

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

While all babies may grow at a different rate, the following indicates the average for boys and girls 1 to 3 months of age:

  • Weight: average gain of about 1½ to 2 pounds each month
  • Height: average growth of over 1 inch each month
  • Head size: average growth of about ½ inch each month
Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

While babies may progress at different rates, there are some common milestones that they will go through. The changes are largely related to movement as babies this age begin to relax the tight muscle tone of newborns and begin extending their arms and legs more.

You’ll see them do things such as holding objects, opening and closing hands, reacting to sound and having more active head and leg movements.

Speech

What can my baby say?

It is very exciting for parents to watch their babies become social beings that can interact with others. For instance, they will begin to imitate sounds and words and have more purposeful cries for when they are tired, hungry or need attention.

Knowledge

What does my baby understand?

A baby’s understanding and awareness of the world around him or her increases during this time. They will start to recognise familiar voices, such as those of their parents, smile in response, respond to social contact and physically react to voices.

Development

How to help increase your baby’s development and emotional security

Young babies need the security of a parent’s arms, and they understand the reassurance and comfort of your voice, tone, and emotions. Making eye contact, talking to them with animated, fun voices, singing to them, showing them different sounds, holding them during feeding and keeping them safely stimulated will all contribute towards good development and emotional security.

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

  • Weight: average gain of 1 to 1¼ pounds each month; by 4 to 5 months has doubled birth weight.
  • Height: average growth of ½ to 1 inch each month.
  • Head size: average growth of about ½ inch each month.
Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

This age is very social and babies begin moving in much more purposeful ways. The newborn reflexes will gradually disappear, and they will be able to better physically support the weight of their heads.

They will also become more mobile, often rolling and reaching for objects and begin to support their body when held in a standing position. Your baby will begin drooling and nap more during the day, as well as sleeping longer at night.

Speech

What can my baby say?

It is very exciting for parents to watch their babies become social beings that can interact with others. They will begin to communicate with coos and gurgles and imitate sounds around them. By six months they will make single syllable sounds (da, ma, ba) and laugh.

Knowledge

What does my baby understand?

A baby’s awareness of people and surroundings increases during this time and he or she may begin to interact with people other than parents.

They will also recognize familiar objects, hold out their arms to get picked up and show displeasure when an object is taken away. They may also begin to recognize their own name, and connect cause and effect in small, everyday things such as the sound a toy makes when dropped.

Development

How to help increase your baby’s development and emotional security

Laughing, talking and making gentle, playful sounds to your baby will help increase their development and emotional security. Place safe toys near them to encourage reaching and grasping and hold and comfort them when they’re unhappy. Play peek-a-boo games to help develop object permanence (the understanding that objects are still present even though they cannot be seen.)

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

  • Weight: average gain of 1 pound each month; boys usually weigh about ½ pound more than girls; 2 times the birthweight by 4 to 5 months and 3 times the birthweight by 1 year.
  • Height: average growth of about ½ inch each month.
  • Head size: average growth of about ¼ inch each month.
Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

Babies are rapidly developing their physical abilities at this age. They become mobile for the first time and safety in the home becomes an important issue. As well as being able to sit unsupported, they will crawl forwards and pull on things to help them sit or stand up. Their hands will also become more dexterous and they will be able to hold and handle larger objects such as their bottle. Teething will also begin which means they may begin to awaken during the night and cry.

Speech

What can my baby say?

Babies are rapidly developing their physical abilities at this age. They become mobile for the first time and safety in the home becomes an important issue. As well as being able to sit unsupported, they will crawl forwards and pull on things to help them sit or stand up. Their hands will also become more dexterous and they will be able to hold and handle larger objects such as their bottle. Teething will also begin which means they may begin to awaken during the night and cry.

Knowledge

What does my baby understand?

A baby’s awareness of people and surroundings increases during this time. They will respond to their own name, pay more attention to conversations around them and even understand what some words may mean (such as “eat”).

They will also show distrust of strangers, recognize their mother, show preferences to certain foods and be able to convey their desires with simple hand signs, such as “Get the ball”.

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

  • Weight: average gain of about 13 ounces each month, birth weight is doubled at approximately 4 to 5 months and tripled at 1 year.
  • Height: average growth of just over 1/2 inch each month with most infants growing 10 inches in the first year.
  • Head size: average growth of about 1/2 inch each month.
Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

As your baby continues to grow, you will notice new and exciting abilities that develop. From sitting back down to being able to walk around by holding on to furniture, their mobility will greatly increase.

They are now able to finger-feed themselves foods and can drink from cups with a spout. They will also begin to grow new teeth and may wake up during the night looking for their

Speech

What can my baby say?

Speech development is very exciting for parents as they watch their babies become social beings that can interact with others. They will know who “ma-ma” and “da-da” are and imitate certain sounds and speech. Simple gestures such as nodding and shaking the head will begin to occur and they may say simple words such as “uh oh”.

Knowledge

What does my baby understand?

Babies at this age become much more aware of others as well as themselves. They are not yet confident that mother will return when she leaves. As well as recognizing familiar objects and pictures, they will grow preferences to toys and people, and will be curious to explore and touch things. They will point and gesture at things they want and will even start dancing to music.

Interaction

How does my baby interact with others?

Separation anxiety and fear of strangers are common at this age. Separation anxiety is anxiousness and fearfulness of being separated from a parent, whether or not the parent is actually leaving the presence of the child. However, this is an important part of the relationship with the parent. They may cling to parents or cry when they leave. They will cry and show emotion when told “no”.

Social

How to help increase your baby’s learning and emotional security

Walk away for short periods when your baby plays in a safe area. This will help to teach him or her that you come back each time. Gradually introduce your baby to new people and things and read stories and stimulate their learning center.

Encourage them to finger-feed themselves and when they ask for something by pointing, tell them what the object is called. And of course, cuddle and show love! Continue a bedtime routine and respond to them when they cry at night.

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

After a baby’s first birthday, the rate of growth begins to slow down. The baby is now a toddler and is very active.

Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

As your baby continues to grow, you will notice new and exciting abilities that develop. They will be able to walk alone by 15 months and even begin to run. They will also start feeding themselves with a spoon and play with more advanced toys, such as building towers and simple puzzles. Your girl or boy will also be able to help with dressing themselves with simple garments and reduce their afternoon naps to just one.

Speech

What can my baby say?

After one, your child will be able to say 4-6 simple words, which will gradually grow to more as they get older. They will also be able to raise simple questions and use negative language when they won’t want something.

Knowledge

What can my baby say?

After one, your child will be able to say 4-6 simple words, which will gradually grow to more as they get older. They will also be able to raise simple questions and use negative language when they won’t want something.

Interaction

How does my child interact with others?

As children begin to walk, they may begin to show independence and will try to walk further away from the parent, but will return. Separation anxiety and fear of strangers may lessen, then return at about 18 months.

They will also exercise their new power to say ‘No’ to things, have temper tantrums and use security blankets or stuffed toys in place of the parent when they are feeling anxious.

Social

How to help increase your child’s learning and emotional security

Foster their intellectual growth by giving toys that are interactive and can be manipulated. Encourage them to help with household tasks and include them in your daily life as much as possible.

Give them crayons to scribble with and talk to them with clear, simple language. Read to them often and when they do talk, simply and kindly correct them. Provide consistent, firm, discipline without yelling, hitting or any other abuse.

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

After a child’s second birthday, the rate of growth continues to slow. Two-year-olds are very active and begin to lose the appearance of a baby. While all children may grow at a different rate, the following indicates the average for 2-year-old boys and girls:

  • Weigh: average gain of about 4 to 6 pounds per year
  • Height: average growth of about 2 to 3 inches each year
Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

As your child continues to grow, you will notice new and exciting abilities that develop. They will be able to walk and run well, and even jump, and carry out other physical activities such as climbing and riding a tricycle.

As well as being able to handle objects better, they will also develop left-or right-handedness by the time they are three. Bladder and bowel control will be improved, and their sleep may only include one afternoon before night time.

Speech

What can my baby say?

Speech at this age is becoming clearer and the child begins to form sentences, saying around 200-300 words. They will also be able name some body parts and put names to pictures and objects.

Knowledge

What does my child understand?

No understanding possession (“mine), they will also know if they are a boy or a girl, their age and will be able to count and solve simple problems.

Interaction

How does my child interact with others?

Showing more independence from parents, they will still act as if other children are just objects and toys and therefore won’t understand sharing. They will say “No” often and continue to have tantrums. They will be more able to help get themselves dressed and undressed.

Social

How to help increase your child’s learning and emotional security

Let your child make more choices for themselves, for example when choosing a piece of fruit. Include them in household chores and help them learn how to wash their hands.

Sing songs and use educational toys and encourage creativity and imagination. Count things out loud to them to help them learn about numbers and give them a doll or teddy bear to look after. Provide out-oh-home social experiences and limit television.

Growth

How much will my baby grow?

In 3-year-olds, growth is still slow compared to the first year. Most children have become slimmer and lost the rounded tummy of a toddler.

  • Weight: average gain of about 4 to 6 pounds per year.
  • Height: average growth of about 2 to 3 inches per year.
  • After age 2, children of the same age can noticeably vary in height and weight. As long as the child is maintaining his or her own rate of growth, there should be no reason to worry. A discussion with the child’s pediatrician is recommended if there is cause for concern.
Activities

What can my baby do at this age?

As well as being to run and jump properly, your child will be able to climb up stairs and ride a tricycle with ease. They will also be able to dress and undress themselves better and eat using a spoon.

Concentration on tasks is also enhanced and they will be able to draw circles and lines. All 20 primary (baby) teeth are grown and their vision is nearing 20/20. They are now potty/toilet trained.

Speech

What can my baby say?

After one, your child will be able to say 4-6 simple words, which will gradually grow to more as they get older. They will also be able to raise simple questions and use negative language when they won’t want something.

Knowledge

What does my baby understand?

Long sentences, size differences and the concept of things being in the past, they can now say their own name and age and understand pronouns. They will also question everything with ‘Why” and have fears of things such as the dark. They can also correctly point to things when asked what they are and sole simple problems.

Interaction

How does my child interact with others?

Your child will not begin to share and enjoy playing with other children, taking turns with toys. There will be fewer tantrums and he or she will be able to express feelings in socially acceptable ways.

Social

How to help increase your child’s learning and emotional security

Spend time to allow your child to talk to you and correct simple mistakes. Explain how things work to them and encourage them to explore creative and critical thinking.

Make sure to socialise them with other children and let them do as much for themselves as possible, such as dressing, eating and washing hands. Sing songs and nursery rhymes and give them the tools to draw and scribble.

Practice counting and naming through fun games, and encourage physical activities such as throwing or kicking a ball.

Growth

What can my child do at these ages?

As your child grows, you’ll notice him or her developing new and exciting abilities. A child age 4 they will be able to sing songs, catch and throw balls, walk down stairs alone and understand the difference between fantasy and reality. At age 5, they will be able to jump rope, walk backwards, balance on one foot, tie shoelaces, dress themselves and know the alphabet.

Speech

What can my child say?

A child age 4 they can put 4-5 sentences together and ask questions. They will be able to identify colours and tell stories. At 5, sentences now extend to 6-8 and they will know more than four colours. They will know which day of the week it is and can understand commands with multiple instructions. Verbal skills will be developing, so expect lots of talking!

Knowledge

What does my child understand?

Children at this age begin to understand concepts and can compare abstract ideas. At 4 they will begin to understand time and become more aware of people around him or her. They may obey rules but not yet understand right and wrong. At 5 they will be more curious about real world facts and may compare rules of parents with that of friends.

Interaction

How does my child interact with others?

An important part of growing up is learning to interact and socialize with others. This can be a frustrating transition for the parent.

At 4 they will be independent, selfish and reluctant so share. They will have mood swings and become aggressive. Imaginary playmates are fears will develop and may fight with siblings, although they will enjoy playing with others in groups.

At 5, they become more cooperative and responsible and be eager to please others. They can now completely dress themselves and enjoy playing sports and being active. They may become more attached to a parent after attending school.

Social

How can I encourage my child’s social abilities

Rewarding good behaviour and achievements is very helpful, as is encouraging them to talk to you about their feelings. Spend quality time with them, reading, singing and learning, and use creative tools to help develop their minds. Arrange social time with other children and physical activity. Use time-outs for bad behaviour and teach them to express anger in a more appropriate manner. Limit TV time.

Growth

What can my child do at these ages?

A child age 6 to 7 will not enjoy many different activities and likes to keep busy. Creative skills such as painting and drawing may emerge and they will natural practice these. They can now ride a bike.

As they progress to 8 and 9, they become more graceful with their movements and abilities, as well as dressing themselves well and using tools (supervised) such as hammers and screwdrivers.

At 10-12 they will like to sew and paint and they will move onto activities such as sewing and painting.

Knowledge

What does my child understand?

A child age 6 to 7 understands the concept of numbers, can tell time and copy complex shapes. When they reach 8-9 they will be able to count backwards, know what the date is and understand fractions and basic mathematics. They will enjoy collecting objects. By the time they are 10-12 they will like to write stories and letters and enjoy a higher level of reading.

Interaction

How will my child interact with others?

An important part of growing up is learning to interact and socialize with others. During the school-age years, you’ll see a change in your child. He or she will move from playing alone to having multiple friends and social groups. Friendships become more important. But your child is still fond of you as parents, and likes being part of a family. Below are some of the common traits that your child may show at these ages.

A child aged 6-7 will be able to share possessions, but also be jealous. They will like to play alone but also enjoy company of friends. Temper tantrums may still occur.

Aged 8-9, competition and games will become important and friend groups may become more diverse. Modest about their body, they will become more interested in relationships between genders.

At 10-12 they form closer friendships and have a best friend, as well as having more interest towards the opposite gender. They will respect their parents more and enjoy talking to others.

Social

How can I encourage my child's social abilities

Set limits, boundaries and expectations, rewarding good behaviour and having consequences for bad behaviour. Help them choose and nurture activities they enjoy and encourage them to be open with their feelings. Teach them self-discipline and to respect authority figures. Limit television and video game time.

Growth

How much will my adolescent grow?

The teenage years are also called adolescence. Adolescence is a time for growth spurts and puberty changes. An adolescent may grow several inches in several months followed by a period of very slow growth, then have another growth spurt. Changes with puberty (sexual maturation) may happen gradually or several signs may become visible at the same time.

Puberty

What changes will happen during puberty?

Sexual and other physical maturation that happens during puberty is a result of hormonal changes. In boys, it is difficult to know exactly when puberty is coming. There are changes that happen, but they happen gradually and over a period of time, rather than as a single event. While each male adolescent is different, the following are average ages when puberty changes may happen:

  • Beginning of puberty: 9.5 to 14 years old
  • First pubertal change: enlargement of the penis and testicles
  • Appearance of pubic hair: 13.5 years old
  • Nocturnal emissions (or “wet dreams”): 14 years old
  • Hair under the arms and on the face, voice change, and acne: 15 years old

Girls also experience puberty as a sequence of events, but their pubertal changes usually begin before boys of the same age. Each girl is different and may progress through these changes differently. The following are average ages when puberty changes may happen:

  • Beginning of puberty: 8 to 13 years.
  • First pubertal change: breast and pubic hair development.
  • Pubic hair development: shortly after breast development.
  • Hair under the arms: 12 years old.
  • Menstrual periods: 10 to 16.5 years old.

There are specific stages of development that both boys and girls go through when developing secondary sexual characteristics. These are the physical characteristics of males and females that are not involved in reproduction, such as voice changes, body shape, pubic hair distribution, and facial hair.

Knowledge

What does my adolescent understand?

The teenage years bring many changes, not only physically, but also mentally and socially. During these years, adolescents increase their ability to think abstractly and eventually make plans and set long-term goals, as well as comparing themselves to peers.

As your adolescent begins to struggle for independence and control, many changes may happen. The following are some of the issues that may be involved with your adolescent during these years:

  • Wants independence from parents.
  • Peer influence and acceptance becomes very important.
  • Romantic and sexual relationships become important.
  • May be in love.
  • Has long-term commitment in relationship.
Social

How to assist your adolescent in developing socially

Encourage your adolescent to take on new challenges but talk to them about losing sight of themselves. Discuss ways to handle and manage stress, and provide consistent, loving discipline and rewards. Find ways to spend time together.

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ChristianaCare Pediatrics Associates at Newark
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ChristianaCare Pediatric Associates - Newark,
DE, Newark,
Delaware 19713, USA

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