Childhood milestones: what to expect as your child grows

Childhood milestones

These are age-specific tasks that most children can do in a certain age range - such as weaning and toilet training. Although each milestone has an age range, the actual age when a normally developing child reaches that milestone can vary quite a bit. Why? Because every child is unique!

Children across the world generally pass through the same sequence of development, and within similar timeframes. However, because every child is an individual, with unique experiences and temperament, the rate at which they develop will differ. A child who is developing at a healthy rate may crawl at 5 months or at 8 months. You should not panic if she has not reached her development milestones within specific a time frame.

More importantly, watching and playing such a significant role in your child’s development can be incredibly exciting! At the same time, it can of course be equally challenging – so the more you know, the better placed you will be to understand what to expect and when, and most crucially of all, how to support your child.

Weaning

When: From 6 months and onwards.

How to support your child

If you feel your baby is hungry for food earlier than six months, it's worth offering them extra milk first. You can also ask your health visitor about trying a different formula if you bottle feed your baby.

Moving from breast milk to pureed vegetables should be an exciting time for you and baby – so try experimenting with a variety of healthy foods!

Offer your baby one or two spoonfuls of the following:

  • Mashed or puréed vegetables, such as cooked carrot, parsnip, potato or sweet potato.
  • Mashed or puréed fruit, such as banana, cooked apple, pear or mango.
  • Baby cereal such as baby rice, sago, maize, cornmeal or millet. You can mix these with some of your baby's milk.

Sitting

When: 6 – 8 months

How to support your child

You can help your baby to sit by easing their legs apart to form a V shape (using cushions for additional support). This will help to give them the balance and stability they need to sit without toppling over on their side.

At around 3 – 4 months they will figure out how to prop themselves up on their arms and hold their chest off the ground, like a mini-push-up.

Encourage them to play lying on their tummy as much as possible. Try to get them to look up, by using colourful and noisy toys, or by pulling funny faces and making sounds.

Once your baby can sit fairly well, put toys and other fun objects just out of reach. They will hold their attention as they learn to balance themselves with their arms.

Crawling

When: 8 – 10 months

How to support your child

Once your baby works out how to lunge forward from a sitting position and balance on their hands and knees, they will be almost ready to crawl. At this point, you need to childproof your home and never leave your baby unattended.

Standing/walking

When: 8 – 16 months

How to support your child

You can encourage your baby to walk by standing or kneeling in front of them and holding out your hands. Or you might hold both their hands and walk them towards you. They will probably also enjoy a toddle truck or push toy they can hold on to as they walk. Do avoid baby-walkers because they make it too easy for your child to get around, and they can prevent upper leg muscles from developing correctly.

Talking

When: During the first two years

How to support your child

Long before they utter their first word, they are learning the rules of language and how adults use it to communicate, by observing and listening to those around them. So, talking (describing what you're doing, pointing things out, asking questions and singing songs), listening and reading to your child will all help support their language development.

Toilet training

When: 18 to 24 months old

How to support your child

Lots of patience and reassurance!

Before toilet training your child, place a potty chair in their normal living/play area so they have plenty of chance to become familiar with it. Allow them to sit fully clothed on the potty chair, as if it were a regular chair, allowing them to leave it at any time. Do not force your child to spend time sitting on the chair; praising them and not showing disappointment during this time is crucial.

You might also want to try a little role play with a ‘potty dolly’. Getting a step to help them reach your proper toilet is also a great idea.

More ideas to try at home