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Six Stages of Child Development

author image Ngozi Oguejiofo
Ngozi Oguejiofo has been writing on a freelance basis since 2009 and most of her writings are focused on health. She is currently a registered nurse. She is interested in teaching, and writes articles focused on student nurses for various online publications.
Six Stages of Child Development
Three children in the kitchen with their mother. Photo Credit Buccina Studios/Photodisc/Getty Images


Although different authorities stress a different number of developmental stages, According to How Kids Develop, child development refers to a child's ability to learn and master skills called milestones as she gets older. A milestone in child development is a skill that a child learns at a specific stage of development. The acquisition of milestones occurs in a certain sequence in the areas of physical, emotional, and mental abilities. A child graduates from one stage of development to the next after reaching certain milestones. For instance, a child learns to crawl before walking and running. The six stages of child development begin at birth.

Newborn Development

Between the time of birth and one month, the newborn child exhibits movements that are automatic in in response to external stimuli, according to "Child Development: An Illustrated Guide." Some milestones include the rooting reflex, where a newborn opens his mouth and turns his head toward your hand when you stroke his cheek; the grasp reflex, which is when the newborn involuntarily grasps at any object put in his hands such as your finger; and the startle reflex, where a child stiffens, extends his arms and legs and then quickly brings his arms together in front of his chest in response to sudden noises or position changes. At this stage, a newborn is able to see objects that are close to his eyes such as his parents' faces, recognize certain smells, move his head from side to side, smile and cries to indicate his needs.

Infant Development

Between one and 12 months, infants displays new developmental abilities. A three-to-six-month-old child is able to control her head movements and play with her hands together. An infant is able to sit without support, respond to her name and babble between six and nine months old. Between nine and twelve months, a baby can crawl, stand with support and pick up objects with her index finger and thumb or a pincer grasp.

Toddler Development

Children between one and three years old are toddlers. At this age, they display ritualistic behavior, such as a bedtime routine, which gives them a sense of reliability and comfort. Although toddlers are clumsy, they can walk without help, go up a staircase, jump in place, hold a crayon, draw a circle, build a tower of two blocks, follow simple directions and use short sentences.

Preschooler Development

Preschool development occurs between the ages of three and five years. This stage of child development is characterized by increased refinement of fine motor skills, according to the book "Maternity and Pediatric Nursing." The preschooler can throw a ball over his head, skip, hop, stand on one foot for 10 seconds or longer, draw a person with features, take care of his toileting needs and dress himself. He can also have long conversations.

School-Age Development

The school-age developmental stage is between six and 12 years old. Children at this stage are more capable, independent and responsible, according to the book "The Developing Person through Childhood and Adolescence." The school-age child has greater motor skills and begins to develop secondary sexual characteristics. Peer relationships become important here and are typically with members of the same sex.

Adolescent Development

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the adolescent years, physical, mental, cognitive and sexual changes occur. Girls are physically mature while boys might still be maturing. Teenagers develop their identity and opinions. They have concerns about their looks. Eating disorders may occur at this time. Adolescents develop interest in members of the opposite sex and spend more time with their friends and less time with their parents.

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