Child development is a process every child goes through. This process involves learning and mastering skills like sitting, walking, talking, skipping, and tying shoes. Children learn these skills, called developmental milestones, during predictable time periods. This is the child’s ability to learn and solve problems.

Five Stages of Child Development

  • During the first month of life, newborns exhibit automatic responses to external stimuli.
  • InfantInfants develop new abilities quickly in the first year of life.
  • Toddler.
  • Preschool.
  • School age.

Development’ means changes in your child’s physical growth. It’s also the changes in your child’s social, emotional, behavior, thinking and communication skills. All of these areas of development are linked, and each depends on and influences the others.

In the first five years of life, experiences and relationships stimulate children’s development, reading millions of connections in their brains. In fact children’s brains develop connections faster in the first five years than at any other time in their lives. This is the time when the foundations for learning, health and behavior throughout life are laid down.

Play: how child development and learning happen

In the early years, play is children’s main way of learning and developing. Play is fun for your child. It also gives your child opportunities to explore, observe, experiment and solve problems.

Your child will need your support and encouragement to do this. But it’s important to aim for a balance between supporting your child and letting your child try things on their own and sometimes make mistakes.

Finding out for themselves about how the world works is a big part of your child’s learning.

Lots of time spent playing, talking, listening and interacting with you helps your child learn key life skills.

These skills include communicating, thinking, solving problems, moving and being with other people and children.

Play is a great relationship builder. Playing with your child sends a simple message – you’re important to me. This message helps children learn about who they are and where they fit in the world.

Factors shaping up child development

Your child’s genes and other factors like healthy eating, physical activity, health and the neighborhood you live in also influence your child’s development and wellbeing.

Healthy Eating
Healthy food gives your child the energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop. It also helps develop their sense of taste. Healthy family food and eating patterns in the early years can set up healthy eating habits for life.

Physical Activity
Being physically active is vital to your child’s health. It gets your child moving, develops motor skills, helps your child think and gives your child an opportunity to explore their world. So your child needs plenty of opportunities for active play, both inside and outside.

Minor childhood illnesses like colds, ear aches and gastroenteritis generally won’t have any long-term effects on development. But disability, developmental delay and chronic or long-term conditions can affect development. Health and disability professionals can help you understand your child’s condition and how it affects development.

Neighborhood and local community
Your child’s development is supported by positive relationships with friends and neighbours, and access to playgrounds, parks, shops and local services like child care, playgroups, kindergartens, schools, health centres and libraries.