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Development - Coos, Phonics, and Everything in Between

— St. Louis Children's Hospital
Updated on Oct 22, 2010

You come home from the hospital with a tiny new baby, but before you know it he’s crawling and walking. Now he’s running and getting into everything. While you try to catch your breath during this whirlwind of parenthood, read Kids Today for some of the most commonly asked questions about the development of children from birth to age 6.

At what age should my child...be sleeping through the night? Experts say: “Generally around 6 months many infants are able to sleep for about six to eight hours without being fed during the night,” says Mary Michaeleen Cradock, PhD, pediatric psychologist on staff at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Younger infants tend to sleep for a few hours at a time and gradually learn to sleep longer at night. Parents can help their child by establishing a bedtime routine and planning how to handle nighttime awakenings.”

...Move from a crib to a bed? Experts say: If your child is continually trying to crawl out of the crib, it may be a good time to try a youth or regular bed.

“Usually between 2 and 3 years old most kids are making the transition into a bed,” says Rose Rudert, manager of St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s ChildDevelopmentCenter. “Talk to your child about it. If he or she is excited, then it’s probably a good time. But don’t be surprised if the transition takes several nights or the child wants to go back to the crib.”

...Start walking? Experts say: A lot of parents have the idea that their children should be walking by their first birthday, but that’s not always the case, says Dr. Cradock. Most babies crawl until 8 to 10 months. Walking is accomplished between 12 and 15 months.

...Begin talking? Experts say: Hearing that first word is a moment all parents long for.

“As a general milestone, babies will say their first word like ‘mama’ or ‘bye-bye’ around 12 months,” Dr. Cradock says. “Before that time, babies will babble, making a range of sounds. Parents help to shape those sounds into words by responding to the babbles. Then by 12 months, babies may recognize some words for familiar objects. A few months later, they’ll be able to respond to simple questions, like ‘Where’s your shoe?’”

If you’re concerned about your child’s speech development, talk to your doctor. There’s a lot of variability between children -- even within the same family. For instance, sometimes a child with an older sibling is slower to talk because the sibling does the talking for him or her.

...Be toilet trained? Experts say: Girls tend to start learning to use the toilet independently between 2 and 2 1/2 years old and boys between 2 1/2 and 3 years old, says Rudert. The main things to watch for are if your child shows interest in it, is aware of his or her body functions, stays dry for several hours at a time and has the motor skills to sit on the potty.

...Stop throwing temper tantrums? Experts say: “Around age 1 to 1 1/2, children begin developing the ability to assert their independence and want to control their environment,” explains Dr. Cradock. “It’s an expected and important stage that can persist into their third year.”

These tantrums are a way for your child to express his or her independence. As the parent, it’s important to react and discipline your toddler in a calm way so that you don’t reinforce the child’s behavior. The tantrums will disappear as your child learns other ways to react to frustration.

...Be writing and reading? Experts say: Anywhere between the ages of 3 and 5 children become fascinated with the process of written communication. Parents with a 3- or 4-year-old can practice with the child to write his or her name, encourages Rudert. During kindergarten, kids focus on recognizing the letters of the alphabet and the corresponding sounds. Then, typically around age 6, most kids learn to read.

Talk It Out “No matter what your questions as a parent, the best thing to do is talk to someone,” says Rudert. “There are a lot of resources available to help, like your child’s pediatrician, but it’s also important to remember that all children develop at different stages and that’s perfectly natural. Your child will let you know what’s best for him or her.”

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