How your child develops

6min read

Babies and toddlers develop very quickly, during this time it can be hard not to compare your child to others around them and wonder if they are developing at the same pace, however babies and toddlers all develop and meet milestones in their own time. Remember that babies and toddlers don’t need to be bought expensive items to help them develop, having you around them and encouraging them is enough.

Key Points:

  • Each phase brings new developments, whether this is sitting up, starting on solids or being on the move
  • Every child develops at their own pace, so remember that there are rough guides, but your child is individual
  • If you are ever concerned and would like to speak to a medical profession, please do reach out to the health visitor or GP

0-6 months

Your new baby has arrived, and as much as it feels that life is a cycle of feeding, nappies and naps, your baby is taking in much more than you think! He or she is listening to your voice and watching you move, by singing lots of songs, and even reading lots of books cuddled up, you are making your baby feel secure and loved.

6-12 months

Your baby may start sitting up now, and even start shuffling around or crawling. Clapping, waving, and babbling are all fun things during this stage; you can imitate and perhaps your baby will start to copy you. During this stage you will be introducing your baby onto solid food, remember, your baby is experiencing all of this for the very first time, so tastes and textures will be new, some he or she may like more than others! Your baby may enjoy holding onto small toys so why not make some music with some objects he or she can bang together or play some simple games together such as “peekaboo”.

12-24 months

You baby is developing into a toddler during this stage. He or she may start walking and start saying their first words. Remember, babies develop at different paces, so if your little one isn’t doing these things, try not to worry. During this stage, your toddler might be wanting to get into everything around the house, so do make sure that all hazardous things are out of reach, and child locks are put onto cupboards. Your child may still not like you going out of their sight, but this is to be expected; they are learning about the world around them and that you will come back for them. Simple games like puzzles, building blocks, and using chunky crayons are great for this stage, and for their development.

2-3 years

This phase is sometimes referred to as the “terrible twos”, however it doesn’t have to be negative. Very young children are learning a lot of new things and going through a lot of different emotions. Your toddler may be wanting to be more independent now, by starting to do things themselves such as getting dressed or putting on their shoes (so you may need to factor in some more time before leaving the house!) Toilet training may also be a factor now, again it is different for all children; try and make this a positive experience for your child, they will start showing signs when they are ready, and you can take their lead.

3-4 years

Your child’s confidence may be increasing during this stage, in all different areas of their life. Socially your child may have started mixing with other children, if they go to any sort of childcare setting or perhaps a playgroup with you, this is great for their development and in preparation for them starting school. Your child will be learning a lot through their play now. Whether this is on their own or with others. Role play can be popular in this age group, which is fantastic for your child’s imagination and learning skills.

Our top tips

You can help your child’s development by engaging with them and showing your interest in what they are doing.

When you are going through a tricky time with your baby or toddler, remember it is just a phase and won’t be forever.

If you have any concerns, do reach out for help. Your GP or the health visitor is a good starting point if you would like to talk to a professional, or there are forums available online for parents who would like to talk.

Further resources

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. 

Advice from the NHS on starting your baby on solid foods

Visit ERIC for ideas and tips on potty training

Read our advice article on play ideas and games

Watch our video and look at ways to support your toddler's development, helping them to be more resilient and emotionally aware - playing games and getting out and about for valuable social and learning experiences.

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