Child development stages

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Child development stages describe the milestones of child development. Although infancy strictly is a distinct stage, it may describe the milestones of the whole infant and child development

Table illustrating infant and child development stages

Developmental Milestones[1]
Age Motor Speech Vision and hearing Social development
4-6 weeks Smiles at parent
6-8 weeks Vocalises
3 months Prone:head held up for prolonged periods. No grasp reflex Makes vowel noises Follows dangling toy from side to side. Turns head round to sound Squeals with pleasure appropriately. Discriminates smile
5 months Holds head steady. Goes for objects and gets them. Objects taken to mouth Enjoys vocal play Smiles at mirror image
6 months Transfers objects from one hand to the other. Pulls self up to sit and sits erect with supports. Rolls over prone to supine. Palmer grasp of cube Double syllable sounds such as 'mumum' and 'dada' Localises sound 45cm lateral to either ear May show 'stranger shyness'
9-10 months Wiggles and crawls. Sits unsupported. Picks up objects with pincer grasp Babbles tunefully Looks for toys dropped Apprehensive about strangers
1 year Stands holding furniture. Stands alone for a second or two, then collapses with a bump Babbles 2 or 3 words repeatedly Drops toys, and watches where they go Cooperates with dressing, waves goodbye, understands simple commands
18 months Can walk alone. Picks up toy without falling over. Gets up/down stairs holding onto rail. Begins to jump with both feet. Can build a tower of 3 or 4 cubes and throw a ball 'Jargon'. Many intelligible words Demands constant mothering. Drinks from a cup with both hands. Feeds self with a spoon
2 years Able to run. Walks up and down stairs 2 feet per step. Builds tower of 6 cubes Joins 2-3 words in sentences Parallel play. Dry by day
3 years Goes up stairs 1 foot per step and downstairs 2 feet per step. Copies circle, imitates cross and draws man on request. Builds tower of 9 cubes Constantly asks questions. Speaks in sentences Cooperative play. Undresses with assistance. Imaginary companions
4 years Goes down stairs one foot per step, skips on one foot. Imitates gate with cubes, copies a cross Questioning at its height. Many infantile substitutions in speech Dresses and undresses with assistance. Attends to own toilet needs
5 years Skips on both feet and hops. Draws a man and copies a triangle. Gives age Fluent speech with few infantile substitutions in speech Dresses and undresses alone
6 years Copies a diamond. Knows right from left and number of fingers Fluent speech

Cognitive and creative

Creative development could very well be seen as how the child learns in its environment through experimenting in different ways of doing everything.

6-8 months

  • Looks for fallen objects by 7 months
  • Plays ‘peek-a-boo’ games
  • Cannot understand “no” or “Danger”

8-12 months

  • Watches people, objects, and activities in the immediate environment.
  • Shows awareness of distant objects (4 m to 6 m (15 to 20 feet) away) by pointing at them.
  • Responds to hearing tests (voice localization); however, loses interest quickly and, therefore, may be difficult to test informally.
  • Follows simple instructions.
  • Reaches for toys that are out of reach but visible
  • Recognizes objects in reverse
  • Drops thing intentionally and repeats and watches object
  • Imitates activities like playing drum

1-4 months

A baby's first smile usually occurs four to six weeks after birth.


  • Average length is 50 cm to 70 cm grows approximately 2.5 cm per month.
  • Weighs an average of 4 kg to 8 kg.
  • Gains approximately 100 g to 200 g per week.
  • Respiration rate is approximately thirty to forty breaths per minute.
  • Normal body temperature ranges from 35.7 °C to 37.5 °C.
  • Head and chest circumference are nearly equal.
  • Head circumference increases approximately 2 cm per month until two months, then increases 1.5 cm per month until four months. Increases are an important indication of continued brain growth.
  • Continues to breathe using abdominal muscles.
  • Posterior fontanel closes by the second month.
  • Anterior fontanel closes to approximately 1.3 cm.
  • Skin remains sensitive and easily irritated.
  • Legs may appear slightly bowed.
  • Cries with tears.
  • Eyes begin moving together in unison (binocular vision).

Motor development

  • Rooting and sucking reflexes are well developed.
  • Swallowing reflex and tongue movements are still immature; continued drooling and inability to move food to the back of the mouth.
  • Grasp reflex gradually disappears.
  • Landau reflex appears near the middle of this period; when baby is held in a prone (face down) position, the head is held upright and legs are fully extended.
  • Grasps with entire hand; strength insufficient to hold items. Holds hands in an open or semi-open position.
  • Muscle strength and control improving; early movements are large and jerky; gradually become smoother and more purposeful.
  • Raises head and upper body on arms when in a prone position.
  • Turns head side to side when in a supine (face up) position; near the end of this period can hold head up and in line with the body.
  • Upper body parts are more active: clasps hands above face, waves arms about, reaches for objects.

4-8 months


  • Puts on 500 g per month in weight, doubling birth weight
  • Grows about 1.3 cm in length per month; average length is 70 cm to 75 cm.
  • Head and chest circumferences are basically equal.
  • Head circumference increases approximately 1 cm per month until six to seven months, then 0.5 cm per month; head circumference should continue to increase steadily, indicating healthy, ongoing brain growth.
  • Breathing is abdominal; ranges from twenty-five to fifty breaths per minute, depending on activity; rate and patterns vary from infant to infant.
  • Teeth begin to appear, with upper and lower incisors coming in first. Gums may become red and swollen, accompanied by increased drooling, chewing, biting, and mouthing of objects.
  • Legs may appear bowed; bowing gradually disappears as infant grows older.
  • Fat rolls ("Baby Fat") appear on thighs, upper arms and neck.
  • True eye color is established.

Motor development

  • Reflexive behaviors are changing:
  • Blinking reflex is well established
  • Sucking reflex becomes voluntary
  • Moro reflex disappears
  • When lowered suddenly, infant throws out arms as a protective measure.
  • Swallowing reflex appears and allows infant to move solid foods from front of mouth to the back for swallowing.
  • Picks up objects using finger and thumb (pincer grip).
  • Reaches for objects with both arms simultaneously; later reaches with one hand or the other.
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other; grasps object using entire hand (palmar grasp).
  • Handles, shakes, and pounds objects; puts everything in mouth.
  • Able to hold bottle.
  • Sits alone without support, holding head erect, back straightened, and arms propped forward for support
  • Pulls self into a crawling position by raising up on arms and drawing knees up beneath the body; rocks back and forth, but generally does not move forward.
  • Lifts head when placed on back.
  • Can roll over from back or stomach position.
  • May accidentally begin scooting backwards when placed on stomach; soon will begin to crawl forward.

8-12 Months


  • Infants reach approximately 1.5 times their birth length by first birthday
  • Weight increases by approximately 500 g per month; birth weight nearly triples by one year of age: infants weigh an average of 9.6 kg.
  • Respiration rates vary with activity: typically, twenty to forty-five breaths per minute.
  • Body temperature ranges from 35.7 °C to 37.5 °C (96.4 °F to 99.6 °F); environmental conditions, weather, activity, and clothing still affect variations in temperature.
  • Head and chest circumference remain equal.
  • Continues to use abdominal muscles for breathing.
  • Anterior fontanel begins to close.
  • Approximately four upper and four lower incisors and two lower molars erupt.
  • Arm and hands are more developed than feet and legs (cephalocaudal development); hands appear large in proportion to other body parts.
  • Legs may continue to appear bowed.
  • "Baby Fat" continues to appear on thighs, upper arms and neck.
  • Feet appear flat as arch has not yet fully developed.
  • Visual acuity is approximately 20/100.
  • Both eyes work in unison (true binocular coordination).
  • Can see distant objects (4 m to 6 m (15 to 20 feet) away) and points at them.

Motor development

  • Reaches with one hand leading to grasp an offered object or toy.
  • Manipulates objects, transferring them from one hand to the other.
  • Explores new objects by poking with one finger.
  • Uses deliberate pincer grasp to pick up small objects, toys, and finger foods.
  • Stacks objects; also places objects inside one another.
  • Releases objects or toys by dropping or throwing; cannot intentionally put an object down.
  • Beginning to pull self to a standing position.
  • Beginning to stand alone, leaning on furniture for support; moves around obstacles by side-stepping.
  • Has good balance when sitting; can shift positions without falling.
  • Creeps on hands and knees; crawls up and down stairs.
  • Walks with adult support, holding onto adult's hand; may begin to walk alone.

Psychological development

Trust versus Mistrust (Erik Erikson)

Toddlers (12-24 months)


  • Rate of growth slows
  • Height increases approximately 5 cm to 8 cm with an average height of 80 cm to 90 cm.
  • Weighs 9 kg 13 kg; gains 130 g to 250 g per month; weight is now approximately 3 times the child's birth weight.
  • Respiration rate is typically twenty-two to thirty breaths per minute; varies with emotional state and activity.
  • Heart rate (pulse) is approximately 80 to 110 per minute.
  • Head size increases slowly; grows approximately 1.3 cm every six months; anterior fontanelle is nearly closed at eighteen months as bones of the skull thicken.
  • Chest circumference is larger than head circumference.
  • Rapid eruption of teeth; six to ten new teeth will appear.
  • Legs may still appear bowed.
  • Toddler will begin to lose the "Baby Fat" once he/she begins walking.
  • Body shape changes; takes on more adult-like appearance; still appears top-heavy; abdomen protrudes, back is swayed.
  • Visual acuity is approximately 20/60.

Motor development

  • Crawls skillfully and quickly.
  • Stands alone with feet spread apart, legs stiffened, and arms extended for support.
  • Gets to feet unaided.
  • Most children walk unassisted near the end of this period; falls often; not always able to maneuver around obstacles, such as furniture or toys.
  • Uses furniture to lower self to floor; collapses backwards into a sitting position or falls forward on hands and then sits.
  • Enjoys pushing or pulling toys while walking.
  • Repeatedly picks up objects and throws them; direction becomes more deliberate.
  • Attempts to run; has difficulty stopping and usually just drops to the floor.
  • Crawls up stairs on all fours; goes down stairs in same position.
  • Sits in a small chair.
  • Carries toys from place to place.
  • Enjoys crayons and markers for scribbling; uses whole-arm movement.
  • Helps feed self; enjoys holding spoon (often upside down) and drinking from a glass or cup; not always accurate in getting utensils into mouth; frequent spills should be expected.
  • Helps turn pages in book.
  • Stacks two to six objects per day.

Cognitive development

  • Enjoys object-hiding activities
  • Early in this period, the child always searches in the same location for a hidden object (if the child has watched the hiding of an object). Later, the child will search in several locations.
  • Passes toy to other hand when offered a second object (referred to as "crossing the midline"-an important neurological development).
  • Manages three to four objects by setting an object aside (on lap or floor) when presented with a new toy.
  • Puts toys in mouth less often.
  • Enjoys looking at picture books.
  • Demonstrates understanding of functional relationships (objects that belong together): Puts spoon in bowl and then uses spoon as if eating; places teacup on saucer and sips from cup; tries to make doll stand up.
  • Shows or offers toy to another person to look at.
  • Names many everyday objects.
  • Shows increasing understanding of spatial and form discrimination: puts all pegs in a pegboard; places three geometric shapes in large formboard or puzzle.
  • Places several small items (blocks, clothespins, cereal pieces) in a container or bottle and then dumps them out.
  • Tries to make mechanical objects work after watching someone else do so.
  • Responds with some facial movement, but cannot truly imitate facial expression.


  • Produces considerable "jargon": puts words and sounds together into speech-like (inflected) patterns.
  • Holophrastic speech: uses one word to convey an entire thought; meaning depends on the inflection ("me" may be used to request more cookies or a desire to feed self). Later; produces two-word phrases to express a complete thought (telegraphic speech): "More cookie," "Daddy bye-bye."
  • Follows simple directions, "Give Daddy the cup."
  • When asked, will point to familiar persons, animals, and toys.
  • Identifies three body parts if someone names them: "Show me your nose (toe, ear)."
  • Indicates a few desired objects and activities by name: "Bye-bye," "cookie"; verbal request is often accompanied by an insistent gesture.
  • Responds to simple questions with "yes" or "no" and appropriate head movement.
  • Speech is 25 to 50 percent intelligible during this period.
  • Locates familiar objects on request (if child knows location of objects).
  • Acquires and uses five to fifty words; typically these are words that refer to animals, food, and toys.
  • Uses gestures, such as pointing or pulling, to direct adult attention.
  • Enjoys rhymes and songs; tries to join in.
  • Seems aware of reciprocal (back and forth) aspects of conversational exchanges; some turn-taking in other kinds of vocal exchanges, such as making and imitating sounds.


  • Usually friendly toward others; less wary of strangers.
  • Helps pick up and put away toys.
  • Plays by themselves for short periods
  • Enjoys being held and read to.
  • Often imitates adult actions in play.
  • Enjoys adult attention; likes to know that an adult is near; gives hugs and kisses.
  • Recognizes self in mirror.
  • Enjoys the companionship of other children, but does not play cooperatively.
  • Beginning to assert independence; often refuses to cooperate with daily routines that once were enjoyable; resists getting dressed, putting on shoes, eating, taking a bath; wants to try doing things without help.
  • May have a tantrum when things go wrong or if overly tired or frustrated.
  • Exceedingly curious about people and surroundings; toddlers need to be watched carefully to prevent them from getting into unsafe situations.


Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (will)

(J. Chasse, 2008) Psychosocial stimulation is vital during the toddler years. Play begins to become interactive. Toddlers begin to learn and exhibit independence, but ironically they enjoy sharing this discovery with others. Another important advancement is active social play with adults including mirroring and repeating. Songs, rhymes, and finger plays (eg. itsy bitsy spider, little teapot, etc.) are a great way to encourage and stimulate this area of development.

Two year old


  • Weight gain averages 1 kg per year; weighs approximately 12 kg to 15 kg or about 4 times the weight at birth.
  • Grows approximately 7 cm to 13 cm per year; average height is 85 cm to 95 cm.
  • Posture is more erect; abdomen still large and protruding, back swayed, because abdominal muscles are not yet fully developed.
  • Respirations are slow and regular (approximately twenty to thirty-five breaths per minute).
  • Body temperature continues to fluctuate with activity, emotional state, and environment.
  • Brain reaches about 80 percent of its adult size.
  • 20 baby teeth almost finished growing out

Motor development

  • Can walk around obstacles and walk more erect
  • Squats for long periods while playing.
  • Climbs stairs unassisted (but not with alternating feet).
  • Balances on one foot (for a few moments), jumps up and down, but may fall.
  • Often achieves toilet training during this year (depending on child's physical and neurological development) although accidents should still be expected; the child will indicate readiness for toilet training.
  • Throws large ball underhand without losing balance. Holds cup or glass (be sure it is unbreakable) in one hand. Unbuttons large buttons; unzips large zippers.
  • Opens doors by turning doorknobs.
  • Grasps large crayon with fist; scribbles enthusiastically on large paper.
  • Climbs up on chair, turns around and sits down.
  • Enjoys pouring and filling activities-sand, water, styrofoam peanuts.
  • Stacks four to six objects on top of one another.
  • Uses feet to propel wheeled riding toys.


  • Eye-hand movements better coordinated; can put objects together, take them apart; fit large pegs into pegboard.
  • Begins to use objects for purposes other than intended (may push a block around as a boat).
  • Does simple classification tasks based on one dimension (separates toy dinosaurs from toy cars).
  • Stares for long moments; seems fascinated by, or engrossed in, figuring out a situation: where the tennis ball has rolled, where the dog has gone, what has caused a particular noise.
  • Attends to self-selected activities for longer periods of time. Discovering cause and effect: squeezing the cat makes her scratch.
  • Knows where familiar persons should be; notes their absence; finds a hidden object by looking in last hiding place first.
  • Names objects in picture books; may pretend to pick something off the page and taste or smell it.
  • Recognizes and expresses pain and its location.


  • Enjoys being read to if allowed to participate by pointing, making relevant noises, turning pages.
  • Realizes that Language is effective for getting others to respond to needs and preferences.
  • Uses fifty to three hundred different words; vocabulary continuously increasing.
  • Has broken the linguistic code; in other words, much of a two-year-old's talk has meaning to him or her.
  • Receptive Language is more developed than expressive Language ; most two-year olds understand significantly more than they can talk about.
  • Utters three- and four-word statements; uses conventional word order to form more complete sentences.
  • Refers to self as "me" or sometimes "I" rather than by name: "Me go bye-bye"; has no trouble verbalizing "mine."
  • Expresses negative statements by tacking on a negative word such as "no" or "not": "Not more milk."
  • Repeatedly asks, "What's that?"
  • Uses some plurals; tells about objects and events not immediately present (this is both a cognitive and linguistic advance).
  • Some stammering and other dysfluencies are common.
  • Speech is as much as 65 to 70 percent intelligible.

Social and emotional

  • Shows signs of empathy and caring: comforts another child if hurt or frightened; appears to sometimes be overly affectionate in offering hugs and kisses to children
  • Continues to use physical aggression if frustrated or angry (for some children, this is more exaggerated than for others); Physical aggression usually lessens as verbal skills improve.
  • Temper tantrums likely to peak during this year; cannot be reasoned with while tantrum is in progress.
  • Impatient; finds it difficult to wait or take turns.
  • Enjoys "helping" with household chores; imitates everyday activities: may try to toilet a stuffed animal, feed a doll.
  • "Bossy" with parents and caregivers; orders them around, makes demands, expects immediate compliance from adults.
  • Watches and imitates the play of other children, but seldom joins in; content to play alone.
  • Offers toys to other children, but is usually possessive of playthings; still tends to hoard toys.
  • Making choices is difficult; wants it both ways.
  • Often defiant; shouting "no" becomes automatic.
  • Ritualistic; wants everything "just so"; routines carried out exactly as before; belongings placed "where they belong."

Three year old


  • Growth is steady though slower than in first two years.
  • Height increases 5 cm to 8 cm per year ; average height is 95 cm to 100 cm, nearly double the child’s birth length
  • Adult height can be predicted from measurements of height at three years of age; males are approximately 53% of their adult height and females, 57%.
  • Weight gains 1.4 kg to 2.3 kg per year; weight 13 kg to 17 kg.
  • Heart rate is 90 to 110 beats per minute.
  • Respiratory rate is twenty to thirty breaths per minute.
  • Temperature 35 °C to 37 °C
  • Legs grow faster than arms,
  • Circumference of head and chest is equal; head size is in better proportion to the body.
  • "Baby fat" disappears as neck appears.
  • Posture is more erect; abdomen no longer protrudes.
  • Slightly knock-kneed.
  • "baby" teeth stage over .
  • Needs to consume approximately 6,300 J (1,500 calories) daily.
  • Visual sight is about 20/40.

Motor development

  • Walks up and down stairs unassisted, using alternating feet; may jump from bottom step, landing on both feet.
  • Can walk on one foot, balance momentarily.
  • Can kick big ball-shaped objects.
  • Needs minimal assistance eating.
  • Jumps on the spot.
  • Pedals a small tricycle.
  • Throws a ball overhand; aim and distance are limited.
  • Catches a large bounced ball with both arms extended.
  • Enjoys swinging on a swing (not too high or too fast).
  • Shows improved control of crayons or markers; uses vertical, horizontal and circular strokes.
  • Holds crayon or marker between first two fingers and thumb (tripod grasp), not in a fist as earlier.
  • Can turn pages of a book one at a time.
Three-year-olds are capable of stacking blocks.
  • Enjoys building with blocks.
  • Builds a tower of eight or more blocks.
  • Enjoys playing with clay; pounds, rolls, and squeezes it.
  • May begin to show hand dominance.
  • Carries a container of liquid, such as a cup of milk or bowl of water, without much spilling; pours liquid from pitcher into another container.
  • Manipulates large buttons and zippers on clothing.
  • Washes and dries hands; brushes own teeth, but not thoroughly.
  • Usually achieves complete bladder control during this time.

Cognitive development

  • Listens attentively to age-appropriate stories.
  • Makes relevant comments during stories, especially those that relate to home and family events.
  • Likes to look at books and may pretend to "read" to others or explain pictures.
  • Enjoys stories with riddles, guessing, and "suspense."
  • Speech is understandable most of the time.
  • Produces expanded noun phrases: "big, brown dog."
  • Produces verbs with "ing" endings; uses "-s" to indicate more than one; often puts "-s" on already pluralized forms: geeses, mices.
  • Indicates negatives by inserting "no" or "not" before a simple noun or verb phrase: "Not baby."
  • Answers "What are you doing?", "What is this?", and "Where?" questions dealing with familiar objects and events.

Social development

  • Stacks objects in sized order and can make a pyramid
  • Seems to understand taking turns, but not always willing to do so.
  • Friendly; laughs frequently; is eager to please.
  • Has occasional nightmares and fears the dark, monsters, or fire.
  • Joins in simple games and group activities, sometimes hesitantly.
  • Often talks to self.
  • Uses objects symbolically in play: block of wood may be a truck, a ramp, a bat.
  • Observes other children playing; may join in for a short time; often plays parallel to other children.
  • Defends toys and possessions; may become aggressive at times by grabbing a toy, hitting another child, hiding toys.
  • Engages in make-believe play alone and with other children.
  • Shows affection toward children who are younger or children who get hurt.
  • Sits and listens to stories up to ten minutes at a time; does not bother other children listening to story and resents being bothered.
  • May continue to have a special blanket, stuffed animal, or toy for comfort.

Four year old

Physical Development

  • Gains approximately 1.8-2.3kg per year, weighs an average of 14.5kg to 114cm
  • Grows 5com-6.5cm in height per year; is approximately 101.6- 114cms tall
  • Heart rate averages 90 to 110 bpm
  • Respiratory rate ranges from twenty to thirty, varying with activity and emotional state.
  • Body temperature ranges from 36.6-37.4°C.
  • Head circumference is usually not measured after age three.
  • Requires approximately 1,700 calories daily.
  • Hearing acuity can be assessed by child's correct usage of sounds and *Language also, by the child's appropriate responses to questions and instructions.
  • Visual acuity is 20/30 as measured on the Snellen E chart.

Motor Development

  • Walks a straight line (tape or chalk line on the floor).
  • Hops on one foot.
  • Pedals and steers a wheeled toy with confidence; turns corners, avoids obstacles and oncoming "traffic."
  • Climbs ladders, trees, playground equipment.
  • Jumps over objects 12 cm to 15 cm (5 or 6 inches) high; lands with both feet together.
  • Runs, starts, stops, and moves around obstacles with ease.
  • Throws a ball overhand; distance and aim improving.
  • Builds a tower with ten or more blocks.
  • Forms shapes and objects out of clay: cookies, snakes, simple animals.
  • Reproduces some shapes and letters.
  • Holds a crayon or marker using a tripod grasp.
  • Paints and draws with purpose; may have an idea in mind, but often has problems implementing it so calls the creation something else.
  • Becomes more accurate at hitting nails and pegs with hammer.
  • Threads small wooden beads on a string.
  • Can run in a circle


  • Can recognize that certain words sound similar
  • Names eighteen to twenty uppercase letters. Writes several letters and sometimes their name. `
  • A few children are beginning to read simple books, such as alphabet books with only a few words per page and many pictures.
  • Likes stories about how things grow and how things operate.
  • Delights in wordplay, creating silly Language.
  • Understands the concepts of "tallest," "biggest," "same," and "more"; selects the picture that has the "most houses" or the "biggest dogs."
  • Rote counts to 20 or more.
  • Understands the sequence of daily events: "When we get up in the morning, we get dressed, have breakfast, brush our teeth, and go to school."
  • When looking at pictures, can recognize and identify missing puzzle parts (of person, car, animal).


  • Uses the prepositions "on," "in," and "under."
  • Uses possessives consistently: "hers," "theirs," "baby's."
  • Answers "Whose?", "Who?", "Why?", and "How many?"
  • Produces elaborate sentence structures: "The cat ran under the house before I could see what color it was."
  • Speech is almost entirely intelligible.
  • Begins to correctly use the past tense of verbs: "Mommy closed the door," "Daddy went to work."
  • Refers to activities, events, objects, and people that are not present.
  • Changes tone of voice and sentence structure to adapt to listener's level of under-standing: To baby brother, "Milk gone?" To Mother, "Did the baby drink all of his milk?"
  • States first and last name, gender, siblings' names, and sometimes own telephone number.
  • Answers appropriately when asked what to do if tired, cold, or hungry. Recites and sings simple songs and rhymes.

Social development

  • Outgoing; friendly; overly enthusiastic at times.
  • Moods change rapidly and unpredictably; laughing one minute, crying the next; may throw tantrum over minor frustrations (a block structure that will not balance); sulk over being left out.
  • Imaginary playmates or companions are common; holds conversations and shares strong emotions with this invisible friend.
  • Boasts, exaggerates, and "bends" the truth with made-up stories or claims of boldness; tests the limits with "bathroom" talk.
  • Cooperates with others; participates in group activities.
  • Shows pride in accomplishments; seeks frequent adult approval.
  • Often appears selfish; not always able to take turns or to understand taking turns under some conditions; tattles on other children.
  • Insists on trying to do things independently, but may get so frustrated as to verge on tantrums when problems arise: paint that drips, paper airplane that will not fold right.
  • Enjoys role-playing and make-believe activities.
  • Relies (most of the time) on verbal rather than Physical aggression; may yell angrily rather than hit to make a point; threatens: "You can't come to my birthday party"
  • Name-calling and taunting are often used as ways of excluding other children.
  • Establishes close relationships with playmates; beginning to have "best" friends.


Initiative Vs. Guilt. During this third stage, the "play age," or the later preschool years (from about 3½ to, in the United States culture, entry into formal school). During it, the healthily developing child learns: (1) to imagine, to broaden his skills through active play of all sorts, including fantasy (2) to cooperate with others (3) to lead as well as to follow. Immobilized by guilt, he is: (1) fearful (2) hangs on the fringes of groups (3) continues to depend unduly on adults and (4) is restricted both in the development of play skills and in imagination.

Five year old


  • Gains 1.8 kg to 2.3 kg per year; weighs an average of 17 kg to 21 kg.
  • Grows an average of 5 cm to 6.5 cm per year; is approximately 105 cm to 115 cm tall.
  • 90 to 110 heart beats per minute.
  • Respiratory rate ranges from 20-30 minute.
  • Head size is approximately that of an adult's.
  • May begin to lose "baby" (deciduous) teeth.
  • Body is adult-like in proportion.
  • Requires approximately 7,500 J (1,800 calories) daily
  • Visual acuity is 20/20 using the Snellen E chart.
  • Visual tracking and binocular vision are well developed.
File:Child with pencil.jpg
Most five-year-old children are able to use a pencil to trace letters and numbers

Motor development

  • Walks backwards, toe to heel.
  • Walks unassisted up and down stairs, alternating feet.
  • May learn to turn somersaults (should be taught the right way in order to avoid injury).
  • Can touch toes without flexing knees.
  • Walks a balance beam.
  • Learns to skip using alternative feet.
  • Catches a ball thrown from 1 m (3 feet) away.
  • Rides a tricycle or wheeled toy with speed and skillful steering; some children learning to ride bicycles, usually with training wheels.
  • Jumps or hops forward ten times in a row without falling.
  • Balances on either foot with good control for ten seconds.
  • Builds three-dimensional structures with small cubes by copying from a picture or model.
  • Reproduces many shapes and letters: square, triangle, A, I, O, U, C, H, L, T.
  • Demonstrates fair control of pencil or marker; may begin to colour within the lines.
  • Cuts on the line with scissors (not perfectly).
  • Hand dominance is fairly well established.


  • Forms rectangle from two triangular cuts.
  • Builds steps with set of small blocks.
  • Understands concept of same shape, same size.
  • Sorts objects on the basis of two dimensions, such as color and form.
  • Sorts a variety of objects so that all things in the group have a single common feature (classification skill: all are food items or boats or animals).
  • Understands the concepts of smallest and shortest; places objects in order from shortest to tallest, smallest to largest.
  • Identifies objects with specified serial position: first, second, last.
  • Rote counts to 20 and above; many children count to 100.
  • Recognizes numerals from 1 to 10.
  • Understands the concepts of less than: "Which bowl has less water?"
  • Understands the terms dark, light, and early: "I got up early, before anyone else. It was still dark."
  • Relates clock time to daily schedule: "Time to turn on TV when the little hand points to 5."
  • Some children can tell time on the hour: five o'clock, two o'clock.
  • Knows what a calendar is for.
  • Recognizes and identifies coins; beginning to count and save money.
  • Many children know the alphabet and names of upper- and lowercase letters.
  • Understands the concept of half; can say how many pieces an object has when it's been cut in half.
  • Asks innumerable questions: Why? What? Where? When?
  • Eager to learn new things.

Language development

  • Vocabulary of 1,500 words plus.
  • Tells a familiar story while looking at pictures in a book.
  • 9 Defines simple words by function: a ball is to bounce; a bed is to sleep in.
  • Identifies and names four to eight colours.
  • Recognizes the humor in simple jokes; makes up jokes and riddles.
  • Produces sentences with five to seven words; much longer sentences are not unusual.
  • States the name of own city or town, birthday, and parents' names.
  • Answers telephone appropriately; calls person to phone or takes a brief message
  • Speech is almost entirely intelligible.
  • Uses "would" and "could" appropriately.
  • Uses past tense of irregular verbs consistently: "went," "caught," "swam."
  • Uses past-tense inflection (-ed) appropriately to mark regular verbs: "jumped," "rained," "washed."

Social development

  • Enjoys and often has one or two focus friendships.
  • Plays cooperatively (can lapse), is generous, takes turns, shares toys.
  • Participates in group play and shared activities with other children; suggests imaginative and elaborate play ideas.
  • Shows affection and caring towards others especially those “below” them or in pain
  • Generally subservient to parent or caregiver requests.
  • Needs comfort and reassurance from adults but is less open to comfort.
  • Has better self-control over swings of emotions.
  • Likes entertaining people and making them laugh.
  • Boasts about accomplishments.

5 years or more


  • Height increases 5 cm to 7 cm a year to a height of 105 cm to 120 cm.
  • 2 kg a year weight increases: weight is about 17 kg to 22 kg.
  • Weight gains reflect significant increases in muscle mass.
  • Heart rate and respiratory rates are close to adults.
  • Body may appear lanky as through period of rapid growth.
  • Baby teeth beginning to be replaced by permanent ones, starting with the two upper front teeth
  • 20/20 eyesight; if below 20/40 should see a professional.
  • Its not uncommon for the children to be farsighted
  • Uses 6,700 J to 7,100 J (1,600 to 1,700 calories) a day.

Motor development

  • Gains greater control over large and fine motor skills; movements are more precise and deliberate, though some clumsiness persists.
  • Enjoys vigorous running, jumping, climbing, and throwing est.
  • Has trouble staying still.
  • Span of attention increases; works at tasks for longer periods of time, though
  • Can concentrate effort but not always consistently.
  • Understands time (today, tomorrow, yesterday) and simple motion (things go faster than others).
  • Recognizes seasons and major activities done in the times.
  • Has fun with problem solving and sorting activities like stacking, puzzles and mazes
  • Enjoys the challenge of puzzles, counting and sorting activities, paper-and-pencil mazes, and games that involve matching letters and words with pictures.
  • Recognizes some words by sight; attempts to sound out words
  • In some cases the child may be reading well.
  • functioning which facilitates learning to ride a bicycle, swim, swing a bat, or kick a ball.
  • Making things is enjoyed.
  • Reverses or confuse certain letters: b/d, p/g, g/q, t/f.
  • Able to trace objects.
  • Folds and cuts paper into simple shapes.
  • Can Tie Laces, string (like shoes).


  • Can identify right and left hands fairly consistently.
  • Holds onto positive beliefs involving the unexplainable (magic or fantasy)
  • Arrives at some understanding about death and dying; expresses fear that parents may die.
  • Talks a lot.
  • Loves telling jokes and riddles; often, the humor is far from subtle.
  • Experiments with slang and profanity and finds it funny.
  • Enthusiastic and inquisitive about surroundings and everyday events.
  • Able to carry on adult-like conversations; asks many questions.
  • Learns 5 to 10 words a day; vocabulary of 10,000-14,000.
  • Uses appropriate verb tenses, word order, and sentence structure.
  • Uses Language rather than tantrums or Physical aggression to express displeasure: "That's mine! Give it back, you dummy."
  • Talks self through steps required in simple problem-solving situations (though the "logic" may be unclear to adults).
  • Has mood swings towards primary caregiver depending on the day
  • Friendship with parent is less depended on but still needs closeness and nurturing.
  • Anxious to please; needs and seeks adult approval, reassurance, and praise; may complain excessively about minor hurts to gain more attention.
  • Often can't view the world from another’s point of view
  • Self-perceived failure can make the child easily disappointed and frustrated.
  • Can't handle things not going their own way
  • Does not understand ethical behavior or moral standards especially when doing things that have not been given rules
  • Understands when he or she has been thought to be "bad"; values are based on others enforced values.
  • May be increasingly fearful of the unknown like things in the dark, noises, and animals.

See also


  1. Seminars in child and adolescent psychiatry (second edition) Ed. Simon G. Gowers. Royal College of Psychiatrists (2005) ISBN 1-904671-13-6

External links