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The Stages of Pediatric Development Explained

The Stages of Pediatric Development Explained

by Malvika Sampath, PT, DPT1 Comment

Welcome to parenthood! Your baby is finally here, now what are all the things you need to know? One big worry for many parents is if their child is developing normally. The stages of pediatric development are fluid and vary from child to child. Continue reading as I discuss some major motor milestones for children. Be sure to enjoy each of these moments with your children because they will go by fast!

0-3 months

The most important take away at this age is tummy time, or the period during the day your baby spends awake and on their stomach. It is important that your baby performs various forms of tummy time. An easy rule to follow is that your baby should have tummy time during every awake period. This time can be tough for some parents because your child may not enjoy tummy time and will fuss about being in the position. There are various ways to perform tummy time, including laying the baby over a bolster/pillow on the floor, holding them up by their belly, and laying them on your chest. All of these allow your baby to utilize their head and neck muscles to lift up and take pressure off the back of their head to prevent potential flat spots. During this time, your child will develop ability to:

  • Hold up head while on tummy
  • Push up to elbows
  • Tracks objects with head and eyes

4-6 months

At this age your baby is going to be moving into a lot of different positions! Your baby will need some assistance to roll. As your baby starts to roll, they will need help to get their arms out from under them and roll the lower half of their body. This will allow the baby to initiate the rolling and allow you to help them finish as they continue to develop stronger muscles. Similar to rolling, it is important that you place your baby in sitting positions while giving them support as they develop stronger muscles to sit up by themselves. During this time, your child will develop ability to:

  • Rolling
  • On tummy, reaching for toys
  • Supported sitting to unsupported sitting

7-9 months

Baby is on the move at this age – time to put up the gates and cover the outlets! It is important that you engage with your child in this stage. Utilize their ability to get into different positions to talk and play with them. This will allow for them to develop strength in all positions and move their extremities to engage with you and toys. While your child begins to crawl, use toys to entice your child to move! During this time, your child will develop ability to:

  • Sitting and reaching for toys
  • Controlled transitions
  • Creeping and crawling

10-12 months

This stage is all about being upright. The view looks different up there! Depending on what you have around your home, your child will have more or less to pull themselves up onto. There are many toys that facilitate upright movement, such as push toys that help your child keep their balance while they are beginning to walk. This is a great way to get your child moving! During this time, your child will develop ability to:

  • Pull to stand/stand alone
  • Cruise on furniture
  • May start to take independent steps

12-18 months

Walking! Your baby is going to be on the move. There will be some falls, but your baby is strong and will get right back up. You may see a mix between crawling and walking depending on how comfortable the child is and how eager they are to get somewhere.

Two Years and Beyond

At two years old, your child will start to climb stairs and will progress to a reciprocal pattern (how adults use stairs) around 3 years. During the second and third year, there will be higher level motor development including climbing and kicking a ball. During years four and five, your child will exhibit improved ability to hop, jump, and balance. As your child grows, motor development will not only allow your child movement, but allow them to interact with the people around them.

How Pediatric Physical Therapy Can Help

As a reminder, these stages will vary for each child and the months in which they progress may not be exact as they read in this blog. If you are concerned about your child’s motor development, an Athletico pediatric physical therapist can help screen for and prevent issues with motor development.

Find a Pediatric Therapist Near You!

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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1 Comment

  1. Merlyn

    Thank you for sharing! Your article is very informative. I am a first-time mom and it helps me a lot.

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