Physical Development: Infancy through Preschool
Physical development takes place quickly in the lives of children. The infant who was once immobile turns into the toddler who seems to be always on the move. Children differ in how quickly they develop large motor skills. This development occurs in stages, each one building upon the previous ones. The rate of this development is less important than the sequence. An environment that encourages physical development through exploration is important for children of all ages.
Children need to visit a doctor regularly because the doctor will monitor their growth and development. Parents who have concerns about their children's development should consult with a doctor.
What are some developmental milestones in physical growth during the first five years of a child's life?
- First year:
- Birth-2 months: babies focus on your face when you talk; arm and leg movements appear to be uncoordinated; weak neck muscles mean that babies cannot control their head movements.
- 3-4 months: babies begin to develop head control and can lift their chests when placed on their stomachs. While you should let your baby have some supervised play time on her stomach, ALWAYS place your child on her back to sleep.
- 4-5 months: babies roll from side to back and/or from back to side.
- 6-7 months: babies can turn completely over (front to back and/or back to front).
- 7 months: babies can pull themselves up to stand but have trouble sitting down again.
- 7-8 months: babies can sit up steadily with the support of their arms.
- 8-10 months: babies can creep on their stomachs or begin to crawl on their hands and knees. (Some babies do not learn to crawl until after they learn to stand.)
- 9-11 months: babies can walk when led by the hands or "cruise" holding onto furniture.
- 12-15 months: babies can stand without holding on to anything and begin walking.
- 1-3 years:
- 18 months: toddlers are walking well, both forward and backwards; they can creep down stairs and get on and off a low chair; they can throw a ball without losing balance.
- 24 months: children are able to run and climb.
- 36 months: children are refining large motor skills; they can alternate feet while climbing stairs, ride a tricycle, jump and balance on one foot. They can throw a ball overhand.
- 36-48 months: children can run and skip well, play simple ball games, and are skilled tricycle riders.
- 48-60 months: children can hop, skip, run, play with a ball, and climb.
Reprinted with the permission of the University of Missouri. © 2008 — Curators of the University of Missouri
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