Milestones in a Child's Development During the First 2 Years

From birth through the second year of life, your child is growing rapidly, changing from helpless newborn to fast-moving toddler. During this time, children are moving through a series of milestones. These milestones are major moments in which the child reaches a new level or masters a new skill. While there are commonly accepted milestones, parents should keep in mind that there is often a wide window of time during which young children reach these goals.

Motor Skills Milestones

Any parent of a newborn knows that a brand-new infant has few purposeful motor abilities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by 3 months, an infant can raise his head and chest while on his stomach and purposefully open and close his hands. Babies usually roll over between 4 and 7 months, crawl between 8 and 12 months and begin to walk around the 1-year mark. By 2 years old, gross (or large) motor milestones that your child has most likely accomplished include walking unassisted, running, and walking up and down stairs with some assistance. Fine (or small) motor milestones between ages 1 and 2 years also include scribbling with a crayon and building with blocks.

Cognitive Milestones

Your baby's brain is constantly working in new and different ways. During the first two years, there are an array of neural developments that lead to increased cognition, or thinking and mental reasoning abilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that between 4 and 7 months, your baby begins to understand simple cause-and-effect principles and object permanence, the idea that something still exists even if she can't see it. By age 2, most toddlers can sort objects by basic shapes and colors. Additionally, toddlers close to 24 months have the ability to begin pretend or imaginative play.

Social Milestones

While infants may seem like they are antisocial creatures, they are building the beginnings of social skills. Although babies are aware of people -- especially Mom, Dad and other close caregivers -- the PBS Parents website states that by 12 months, young children can explore objects such as toys with others. By 24 months, toddlers play alongside other kids but are still not yet ready to engage in a more direct form of socialization.

Emotional Milestones

The young child under 2 typically lacks the emotional maturity of an older child. According to PBS Parents, by 12 months, most infants are able to observe and react to other people's emotions 67. During the second year, typically closer to age 2, children begin to understand and assert a sense of self. This milestone often results in the toddler's answer of "no" to various requests, such as to pick up his toys. Two-year-olds also can name basic emotions, such as "happy" and "sad," and point them out when they see them.

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