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Categories > Newborn and Infant Care > Child development

The wonder years: Watching your child grow

Have you wondered about all the changes your child will go through after birth? When you should expect your child to begin walking, eating solid food and—before you know it—mastering e-mail and going to the mall—without you?

Though many developmental milestones are reached at fixed times, it’s important to remember that each child may not acquire skill sets at exactly the same time. Becoming familiar with when children are expected to learn how to do something will help you to enjoy your child during these stages—as well as gauge if something seems to be off track.

The first year of your child’s life is filled with wonder. During this time, most babies should:

  • Begin smiling, cooing and moving limbs, sucking toes and, by 10 months, standing with support.
  • Coordinate thoughts with hand movements and put their favorite toys in their mouth.
  • Develop hand and finger skills needed to self-feed.
  • Roll after 7 months and sit, crawl and pull themselves into a standing position by 12 months.
  • Point, clap to music and reach for your hand between 10 and 12 months.
  • Double birth weight by 5 months and in one year triple it.

Between the first and second year of your child’s life, the early drama and drive of toddlerhood begins. Most children should:

  • Increase cognitive development such as recalling events; understanding symbols; and imitating, imagining and pretending.
  • Develop emotionally and socially, including becoming attached to parents at around 15 months.
  • Develop language skills. By 24 months, a typical toddler has a 50-to-100-word vocabulary.
  • Gain the control and coordination needed to become steady walkers.

During the second year of your child’s life, significant changes will take place. Most children should:

  • Lose baby fat.
  • Gain a more erect posture.
  • Refine gross motor skills, including smoother walking, kicking and climbing stairs without help.
  • Hone fine motor skills, including recognition of shapes and colors and the ability to dress with assistance.

By age 3, your child will begin to show—and enjoy—independence. During this stage, most children should:

  • Begin the notion of “make believe” and take interest in making friends.
  • Begin to share toys.
  • Start having nightmares and fears.
  • Become curious about their bodies.

When your child reaches age 4, he or she will likely have a playtime regimen. Most children should:

  • Begin to understand the rules of social interaction, which will aid when playing with others and coping with a parent’s absence.
  • Increase the ability to memorize. They should be able to memorize their name, address and phone number.

Independence reaches new heights by age 5, when your child will begin to think for him or herself. Most children should:

  • Possess a vocabulary of up to 14,000 words.
  • Become good at running and skipping.
  • Tie shoelaces and wash and comb hair.
  • Draw pictures that tell uncomplicated stories.
  • Count and sort.

Your 6- to 7-year-old will enjoy many activities and like to stay busy. Most children should:

  • Lose a first tooth.
  • Have a desire to practice and increase skills.
  • Jump rope and ride a bike successfully.
  • Understand the concept of numbers and time telling.
  • Decipher right and left hands.
  • Copy complex shapes, such as diamonds.
  • Read age-appropriate books.
  • Become jealous of others, including siblings, and may have temper tantrums.
  • Become modest about his or her body.

Between ages 8 and 9, your child’s movements will become more graceful and precise. Most children should:

  • Jump, skip and chase skillfully.
  • Enjoy competition.
  • Dress and groom themselves completely.
  • Count backwards.
  • Know the date and be able to recite successive months and days of the week.
  • Understand fractions.
  • Read more for pleasure.
  • Enjoy collecting objects.
  • Become interested in the opposite gender, although they likely won’t admit it.

Preteen years from 10 to 12 are a time of change, growth and personal expression. Most children should:

  • Develop remaining adult teeth.
  • Move away from relationships with parents and move toward friends.
  • Show more interest in the opposite sex.
  • Begin puberty changes and become moody.
  • Become more modest and seek more privacy.