Developmental Milestones: The First Two Years
The first two years of a child’s life are chock-full of colossal physical growth and truly astounding cognitive development. By age two, the majority of children have more than likely quadrupled their birth weight and are approximately half as tall as their predicted height in adulthood. Keeping in mind that all babies and infants develop at differing rates, it is a good idea to perform your own parent-led developmental checks from time to time, reporting any concerns to your paediatrician.
Your baby has made their way safely into the world and is busy adjusting to his or her new surroundings outside the womb.
You will notice that he/she is doing some or all of the following:
- Bringing hands toward eyes and mouth with jerking and or quivering motions.
- Is able to move his/her head from side to side.
Can focus eyes anywhere from 8 to 12 inches (20.3cm to 30.4cm) away.
- Will often keep hands clutched into tightly
- Has strong reflex movements, will startle easily, feet and hands will make grabbing motions if stimulated in the palm/arch areas.
- May recognise some familiar sounds, turning head and or eyes to investigate.
- A four week old baby can tell the difference between the sound of ‘ma’ and ‘na’.
- Has a heightened sense of smell and will recognise the scent of primary caregivers.
- Holds head up briefly when lying on tummy or being held by you. May also be able to turn head from side to side.
At three months of age, your baby has made some very impressive developments and is no longer a passive recipient of information from his/her surroundings. Babies at this age are losing some of their newborn reflexes and taking a more active role in controlling their physical movements, especially with their hands and eyes.
By this age your baby will be demonstrating many of the following abilities:
- Opens and closes fists, bringing his/her hands to mouth.
- Inserts items into the mouth.
- Shows interest in faces and objects.
- Follows objects with eyes and may even recognise familiar objects.
- Makes attempts to grab at objects or toys of interest.
- Begins using basic hand-eye coordination while grasping, shaking and moving small objects and toys.
- Is able to raise their head and makes attempts to use his/her arms to support themselves during tummy time.
- Begins to smile, babble and attempts to communicate with verbal utterances other than crying.
- Startles at loud noises and turns head to investigate sound.
More likely than not, you have been noticing some very big changes in your baby’s increasing physical abilities. His/her coordination has come a long way in these last few months and if you haven’t yet, you soon will see signs of early crawling as well as many of the following skills emerge:
- Greater control of hand-eye coordination and more precise movements.
- Reaches for and grabbing smaller items, transferring items from one hand to the other.
- Greater ability to roll about, moving from front to back and back to front.
- Makes attempts to pull themselves along on bottom or belly.
- Is able to sit, although may still need assistance to remain upright.
- Greater ability to accurately track moving objects with his/her eyes.
- Recognises his/her name and turns head in response.
- Becomes more vocal verbally to express likes and dislikes.
- Babbles lengthy chains of utterances.
- May shake head to show “no”.
- Enjoys playful interactions with others.
- Smiles and makes eye contact during interactions
Your baby is most certainly on the move now. Whether that be dragging him/herself about on the belly or bottom, crawling in the proper sense of the word or full on walking–you officially have a mover! By this stage, your wee one will be exhibiting some or all of the following skills:
- Crawls forward, somewhat dragging oneself on the stomach using arms to pull and legs to push.
- Crawls on hands and knees.
- Can get to a seated position from laying down (on front or back).
- Can get to a laying down position from seated.
- Is able to pull self to stand and remain there briefly, with support.
- Walks for short periods using furniture/wall for support.
- May take several steps in a row, independently.
- Able to use thumb and pointer finger as pinchers to pick up smaller items or to feed him/herself.
- Points at items of interest.
- Can put items in and take them out of a box or container.
- Smashes and bangs items together during play.
- Demonstrates an increasing understanding of speech and may indicate some understanding; nodding head for “yes” or shaking head for “no”.
- Begins to imitate adult actions and behaviours.
By this stage, your baby has turned into a busy little bee. Chasing them from one room to the other will most certainly get you into the mindset of properly baby-proofing your home for their safety and your sanity! They will be demonstrating many of the following abilities by this age:
- Walk unassisted, maybe a little unstable, but well on the way to walking independently.
- Recognises their name and responds by turning his/her head.
- Indicates interest in items by pointing and making sounds.
- Points to objects looking for you to give them/it a name or an explanation of the item.
- Turns head toward where you point.
- Points to simple and common objects, familiar toys, animals, family members or body parts.
- Can detect where a sound is coming from.
- Babble in response when spoken to and may even be able to say a few simple words.
- Has an understanding of the word “no”.
- Looks for and is able to locate where a sound is coming from.
- Waves hello/goodbye and claps.
- Pays greater attention during book reading, points to familiar items when you give their patiently for you to read each page.
From walking to running, baby talk to babbling sentences at full speed; you have a chatty child at this age. Prattling along with intention and intonation, some of which you may even be able to understand! Don’t expect anyone else to be able to make much out though, you will be playing interpreter for a while to come yet. Your baby will now be doing much of the following:
- Walks and runs independently.
- Carries/pulls/pushes toys or other items while walking.
- Sorts and organises objects during play, lining items up in rows, according to size, colour and shape.
- Is able to follow simple one step directions from an adult.
- Locates and brings a few familiar objects/toys when asked to.
- Names/recognises simple items from books and pictures.
- Says several words (between 50-100- not necessarily clearly) and will continue to learn new words at an impressive rate.
- Is beginning to say simple two word sentences such as: “Me do”, “Not Yours”, “Cookie Mine”.
- Repeats words overheard in conversation.
- Mimics actions of others, both adults and children.
- Can stand on tip-toes to reach desired items.
What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2012) Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics)