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Stages of Baby Development

Knowing when your child is most ready to learn key skills can help you play an important role in her development.

by: Nancy Ripton

In This Article
    

W

hile it's fun to track the stages of baby development (see baby development chart at end of this article), you shouldn't obsess if your child is a week or two late in getting to one. "A baby development chart is based on averages and should be used as a general guide," says Pam Schiller, an early childhood consultant. Baby milestones are there to raise awareness about your baby's development. The most important thin in monitoring your baby's development are "windows of opportunity," which are the periods of time when your child is most ready to acquire certain skills.

Developmental Windows of Opportunity

"These ‘windows' are neurological wiring timetables," says Schiller. Windows of opportunity for learning open even before you see any signs of your child reaching a developmental milestone, so it's important to know when they occur because that is when your child is most primed for learning.

The first few years of your child's life are crucial when it comes to her emotional, social and intellectual development. "As a parent, you're laying the foundation for a lifetime of learning," says Schiller. "Wiring outside a window will not result in optimal learning opportunities," she says.

For example, your child is primed to learn reading skills and vocabulary from birth, so if you wait until she is able to talk to start a relationship with books, you've missed much of the ideal time to create a strong foundation in reading and learning. Here are some other key windows of opportunity you can use to help your child reach her full potential:

 Window Wiring Opportunity
 What to try in the first few months.

Emotional Intelligence

Trust

Impulse Control

Social Development

Attachment

Independence

Cooperation

0-48 months

0-14 months

16-48 months

0-48 months

0-12 months

18-36 months

24-48 months

Don’t let your baby “cry it out.”

Meeting your baby’s needs is the

best way to establish early trust.

Thinking Skills

Cause and Effect

Problem Solving

0-48 months

0-16 months

16-48 months

Make a game out of turning

the light switch on and off

to show cause and effect.

Motor Development

Vision

0-24 months

0-24 months

Scatter toys on a mat to

encourage your baby to

reach and grab for them.

Reading Skills*

Early Sounds

Vocabulary

0-24 months

4-8 months

0-24 months

Board books are ideal for

the first year.


*The two most reliable predictors of reading success are sound discrimination and the size of the child's vocabulary.

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Baby Development Chart >>