Keeping your child healthy and ensuring that he gets good nutrition are two of the most important jobs of parenting. Below you will find resources on a range of health issues that will help you nurture your child’s overall growth and development. Please note that ZERO TO THREE does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your child’s health and nutrition, we encourage you to discuss them with your health care provider.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPEMENT
During the first three years of life, humans transition from complete physical dependence to independence with a majority of basic self-help and mobility skills. While the exact timeline differs from child to child, there is a general order and window of time in which motor milestones are achieved. If you have any concerns about a child in your life, discuss them with the child's physician.
Birth to 3 Months
Motor control develops from the head, moves down through the arms and the trunk and then to the legs and feet, according to an item on early development on the online magazine Parenting. Initial movements are reflexive in nature, such as turning the head to the side when the cheek is stroked, which aids in feeding. As the initial survival reflexes fade, motor skills are related to the growing ability to observe and interact with the environment. According to the Healthy Children, the parenting website from the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby turns its head from side to side when lying on the back or belly and brings both hands together at the chest or mouth at 1 month of age.
3 to 6 Months
At 3 months of age, an infant progresses to lifting the head and chest up when lying in its belly and may press up with its arms. A 3-month-old kicks its legs when lying on the belly or back, and bats at and briefly grasps toys, according to Healthy Children. The Hawaii Early Learning Profile indicates that between 3 and 4 months, he begins rolling with belly to back first, and back to belly closer to 6 months.
6 to 12 Months
The following average ages of motor milestone achievement come from a 1996 study by the World Health Organization. The average age at which infants sat without support was 6 months. The average age for standing with support was 7.6 months. Infants in the study crawled on hands and knees at 8.5 months. Walking with assistance occurred at 9.2 months. The average age of an infant who achieved standing alone was 11 months.
12 to 24 Months
The World Health Oranization study notes that a young toddler takes two to three steps alone around 12 months. The Hawaii Early Learning Profile indicates he walks unsupported across a room with stopping or changing direction between 13 and 15 months. Around 18 months, kicking and throwing balls, running, climbing stairs with assistance, and propelling scoot toys join the toddler's set of mobility and play skills.
24 to 36 Months
Between the ages of 2 and 3, balance improves and the toddler walks with a smoother pattern. During this period she learns to stand briefly on one foot, walk backwards, and walk on tiptoes. Ages of achievement of the following motor tasks come from the Hawaii Early Learning Profile. A child jumps in place around 24 months and progresses to jumping over a small obstacle by 36 months. At 24 months she climbs a small ladder and goes down a small slide, then maneuvers on a variety of playground equipment around 35 months. Between 30 and 34 months, toddlers begin to walk up stairs alternating feet without a hand held or use of a railing. Other play skills expected within a few months of the third birthday are catching a playground ball that has been tossed to the child and pedaling a tricycle.
UNDERSTANDING AND SKILLS
Children learn through play. They’re naturals. It’s us adults that sometimes need help! We’ve forgotten how. Plus it’s difficult to know how much babies and toddlers understand anyway.
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