Stages of Human Development

Stages of Human Development: Birth to 5 Years

This page presents an overview of child development from birth to five years of age. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range. This information is presented to help parents understand what to expect from their child. Any questions you may have about your child’s development should be shared with his or her doctor.

Physical and Language



1 month

Feedings: 5-8 per day Sleep: 20 hrs per day Sensory Capacities: makes basic distinctions in vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch, temperature, and perception of pain

Generalized Tension

Fed by mother

2 months
3 months

Sensory Capacities: color perception, visual exploration, oral exploration. Sounds: cries, coos, grunts Motor Ability: control of eye muscles, lifts head when on stomach. Delight


Smiles at a Face Visually fixates at a face, smiles at a face, may be soothed by rocking.

4 months
6 months

Sensory Capacities: localizes sounds Sounds: babbling, makes most vowels and about half of the consonants Feedings: 3-5 per day
Motor Ability: control of head and arm movements, purposive grasping, rolls over.

Enjoys being cuddled

 Recognizes his mother. Distinguishes between familiar persons and strangers, no longer smiles indiscriminately. Expects feeding, dressing, and bathing.

7 months
9 months

Motor Ability: control of trunk and hands, sits without support, crawls about.

 Specific emotional attachment to mother.

Protests separation from mother. Enjoys “peek-a-boo”

10 months
12 months

 Motor Ability: control of legs and feet, stands, creeps, apposition of thumb and fore-finger. Language: says one or two words, imitates sounds, responds to simple commands. Feedings: 3 meals, 2 snacks Sleep: 12 hours, 2 naps Anger

Affection Fear of strangers Curiosity, exploration

 Responsive to own name. Wave bye-bye. Plays pat-a-cake, understands “no-no!” Gives and takes objects.

1 years
1 ½ years

 Motor Ability: creeps up stairs, walks (10-20 min), makes lines on paper with crayon. Dependent Behavior

Very upset when separated
from mother Fear of Bath

Obeys limited commands. Repeats a few words. Interested in his mirror image. Feeds himself.

1 ½ years
2 years

 Motor Ability: runs, kicks a ball, builds 6 cube tower (2yrs) Capable of bowel and bladder control. Language: vocabulary of more than 200 wordsS leep: 12 hours at night, 1-2 hr nap

Temper tantrums

Resentment of new baby Does opposite of what he is told (18 months).

2 years
3 years

Motor Ability: jumps off a step, rides a tricycle, uses crayons, builds a 9-10 cube tower. Language: starts to use short sentences controls and explores world with language, stuttering may appear briefly. Fear of separation

Negativistic (2 ½ yrs) Violent emotions, anger Differentiates facial expressions of anger, sorrow, and joy. Sense of humor (Plays tricks)

Talks, uses “I” “me” “you” Copies parents’ actions. Dependent, clinging, possessive about toys, enjoys playing alongside another child. Negativism (2 ½ yrs).Resists parental demands. Gives orders. Rigid insistence on sameness of routine. Inability to make decisions.

3 years
4 years

Motor Ability: Stands on one leg, jumps up and down, draws a circle and a cross (4 yrs)

Self-sufficient in many routines of home life. Affectionate toward parents. Pleasure in genital manipulation Romantic attachment to parent of opposite sex
(3 to 5 yrs)Jealousy of same-sex parent. Imaginary fears of dark, injury, etc. (3 to 5 years)

Likes to share, uses “we” Cooperative play with other children, nursery school. Imitates parents. Beginning of identification with same-sex parent, practices sex-role activities. Intense curiosity & interest in other children’s bodies. Imaginary friend.

4 years
5 years

Motor ability: mature motor control, skips, broad jumps, dresses himself, copies a square and a triangle. Language: talks clearly, uses adult speech sounds, has mastered basic grammar, relates a story, knows over 2,000 words
(5 yrs)

Responsibility and guilt Feels pride in accomplishment

Prefers to play with other children, becomes competitive prefers sex-appropriate activities