Early Childhood Development - What Are The Physical Stages?

Watching your baby grow stronger, more capable and more independent every day is one of the joys for parents of early childhood development. Babies grow at different rates - one may start crawling months before the other kids in her playgroup, but may not be able to feed herself until a long time after they do. Parents often compare their own baby's physical development to that of other children, or to developmental norms, and they may worry if their own baby doesn't seem to "measure up." This is the wrong approach. Parents should try to relax and enjoy the new daily adventures of these early days. Of course, it's important to be aware of the normal physical development stages in early childhood, but as long as you are well informed, and you regularly bring your baby to her pediatrician appointments, any developmental issues she may have will be spotted.

Early Childhood Development Stages

To learn about the stages of early child hood development, parents can consult early childhood development articles available online or in parenting books. The experience of seasoned Moms and Dads can also be a useful source of information. To help you out, here's a quick summary of the milestones of early childhood physical development.

0 to 4 months - from birth, all being well, a baby can usually suck, swallow, grasp and yawn. At this stage she is completely and utterly dependent on her parents for survival - the skills she's born with are the ones she needs simply to begin existing outside the womb. As the months and weeks go by, she'll become more active, but still only really able to kick and move her limbs while lying on her back. By four months, she should be able to support her own head and may begin rolling over by herself.

4 to 8 months - during the next four months, a baby's strength increases significantly. She becomes more independent regarding the essential skills for life and can even hold her own bottle in her hand to feed herself. She begins sitting up by herself and can get into a crawling position, but probably won't start moving in a crawl until the 8th month or later.

8 to 12 months - this is the time when parents really need their wits about them around the house - baby is on the move! She'll start crawling on her hands and knees and will figure out how to pull herself up into a standing position (probably by holding on to the furniture). This is the time when she'll probably take her first steps. At first she'll have to support herself on the furniture or by having an adult hold on to her.

12 to 24 months - between the ages of 1 and 2, a baby will learn to walk unaided. Her motor skills will improve. She'll start drawing (pretty badly, but you'll be so proud you won't notice), feeding herself with a spoon and doing other things that require precise movements of the hands.

24 to 36 months - during this year, your baby becomes a toddler. She'll learn to climb stairs alone, and her fine motor skills (hand movements) will include unzipping and unbuttoning her own clothes.

36 to 48 months - by the time your child is 4 years old, she can handle going up and down stairs with alternating feet. She'll be able to balance standing on one leg and to kick a large ball and catch it without falling over.

Early Childhood Education

At age 4, your child is getting ready for early childhood education - namely preschool or kindergarten. Depending on where you live in the United States, preschool education may be compulsory from age 5 or from age 7. Kindergarten teaching is very important for consolidating the basic development milestones your child needs to have achieved, both physically and mentally, before she is ready to attend elementary school. It's also the time when she begins to learn to socialize and compromise with other children.

Parent Education On Early Childhood Development

Many parents can benefit from taking a parenting class on infant development. Sometimes early childhood development courses are run at local community centers, health centers or even online. Taking a course like this teaches you how to support your child's development, and even how to tackle potential health problems or accidents in the home.

Early Childhood Development Careers

Those interested in a career in child development will need to take an early childhood development degree of some kind. There are many different career paths to choose from: developmental psychology, child psychology, and preschool teaching are some of them. The common requirement of all these professions is patience, and a desire to help children and their families.

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