Toddler and Baby Development Stages

The Toddler and Baby Development Stages section gives information on the usual age developmental milestones are reached in the first five years of life.

A baby develops from a helpless being at birth and over the first five years he will gain independence in mobility, speech and language and he will develop his own personality.

Although every child is different, there is a pattern of developmental progress that they all will follow within a fairly narrow time frame.

If you have a specific question on infant and toddler development, you can click on the link in the list below to go directly there, otherwise read on for an overview.

To read about primitive reflexes that babies display, click here


What are the 4 stages of development?

There are 4 main areas of toddler and baby development stages:

  • motor development - this is about body posture and large movements of the limbs and the developmental road to walking
  • fine motor development and vision - this is about manipulative skills leading eventually to being able to do complicated manual tasks. To do this children need to be able to see
  • speech and language development and hearing - this is about language development, which is a key human characteristic. To read more about normal speech and language development and causes of slow speech, click here
  • personal and social development - this is about the development of self and interactions with others

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Do all children reach milestones at the same time?

No. Every child is an individual and, as such, your child will reach milestones at his pace. Try not to compare your child with other children. Baby development stages are given as a guide - some babies attain one milestone early and another late. That's not a concern in most cases.

Don't be concerned if a baby of 13 months is walking while your 13 month old is not or if a 2 year old is using sentences when your 2 year old is not.

On the pages that give milestone progress for each age band, there is a section on when to be concerned. Unless your child is demonstrating these characteristics, there is no need to worry. To check out what toddler and baby development stage is expected at what age, click here.

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What does it mean if a baby's development is slow?

If a baby is not developing normally (so is slow to attain milestones), it may be an indication that something is wrong. If a child is not reaching motor milestones, there may be something wrong with his neuro-muscular system. For example, he could have cerebral palsy.

A problem with speech and language development may indicate a problem with hearing or may be a manifestation of a communication disorder like autistic spectrum disorder.

In either case, the earlier the developmental problem is picked up the better so appropriate intervention can begin. Of course, sometimes babies are just slow to develop without there being a major problem and they just catch up a bit later.

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How will I know if my baby is not developing normally?

Mothers (and fathers) are very good at picking up some developmental problems and most countries have some type of well child checks where development is tested. You can also check the pages below for the milestones to expect at different ages.

See your doctor is you are concerned that your toddler or baby development stages are not appropriate, and, in particular, if you are concerned your baby does not see or hear.

Babies also exhibit primitive reflexes which are present from birth or shortly after and last weeks or months. If primitive reflexes persist, it can be an indication that there is a problem with the brain.

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What can I do to help my baby's development?

The most important thing you can do as a parent for your baby is to provide a loving environment with adequate food and warmth for your baby.

Studies have shown that babies who have tummy time while they are awake reach motor milestones earlier than babies who do not have tummy time. So, make sure your baby has supervised tummy time while he is awake. Remember that the safest sleeping position is on his back.

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What are the Toddler and Baby Development Stages?

To check on normal toddler and baby development stages, click on the appropriate age band:

To read about normal communication and speech development throughout the age range, Back to list


  • Majnemer A, Barr R. Association between sleep position and early motor development. J Pediatr 2006;149:623-9
  • Martin Bellman and John Cash. Schedule of Growing Skills. NEFR-Nelson. ISBN 0 7005 1161 X
  • Mary Sheridan. From birth to five years. NFER-Nelson. ISBN 0 85633 074 4

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To go to the top of the Toddler and Baby Development Stages page, click here

For infants from birth to six months, click here

For infants from 6 to 12 months of age, click here

For toddlers from 1 to 2 years of age, click here

For toddlers from 2 to 3 years of age, click here

For toddlers from 3 to 4 years of age, click here

For children from 4 to 5 years of age, click here

To read about Primitive Baby Reflexes, click here

To read about normal communication and speech development, click here

To return to the Home page, click here

Last reviewed 29 May 2011

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.

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