Without a doubt, the early years—ages birth through five—are the most extraordinary period of growth and development in a child's lifetime. Infants begin life totally dependent on adults and then develop into children who walk, talk, write, express themselves, and communicate with the world around them. During this period of growth in children's lives, it is essential to embrace and nurture all aspects of a child's development: social/emotional, cognitive, physical, and language.
While it is important for those who care for children to focus on all areas of development, it is also important to remember that every child is unique. Their differences—in culture, life experiences, language, disability, or temperament, just to name a few—greatly influence how they learn and see the world.
During the infant, toddler, and preschool years, children experience tremendous growth and change as they progress through the various stages of development. It is important to realize that children do not all reach milestones of development at the same time—children grow and learn on their own timetables, based on their unique differences.
As parents, caregivers, and professionals work with young children, it is critical that they understand the typical stages of development for children ages birth to five so that they can make good decisions about their day-to-day interactions and work with them. Anyone living or working with young children should know the average age at which most children will be able to carry out all of the skills involved in growing up--everything from rolling, crawling, and sitting to smiling, talking, and toilet training.
To learn about typical development and what to do if you have concerns, read this
birth to 6 pre-screening chart or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
In 2012, early learning leaders in Washington published the Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines to provide those who live and work with young children a resource to understanding typical stages of development for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
For more information about child development, visit:
- Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Devereux Early Childhood Initiative
- Early Head Start National Resource Center
- National Association for the Education of Young Children
- National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
- Starting Smart: How Early Experiences Effect Brain Development
- Zero to Three