Ages & Stages: A Quick Guide to Pediatric Development


Pregnancy is a time of anticipation, excitement, preparation, and, for many new parents, uncertainty. The nine months of pregnancy will give you time to have your questions answered, calm your fears, and prepare yourself for the realities of parenthood. This section contains some guidelines to help you with the most important of these preparations.

As pregnancy progresses, you’re confronted with a long list of related decisions, from planning for the delivery to decorating the nursery to choosing a pediatrician. You probably have made many of these decisions already. Perhaps you’ve postponed some others because your baby doesn’t yet seem “real” to you. However, the more actively you prepare for your baby’s arrival, the more real that child will seem, and the faster your pregnancy will appear to pass.

Giving birth is one of the most extraordinary experiences of a woman’s life. Yet after all the months of careful preparation and anticipation, the moment of birth is almost never what you had expected. Your health, the condition of the fetus, and the policies of the hospital will all help determine what actually happens. What matters is that the baby is here at last and healthy.


It doesn’t take long to develop the confidence and calm of an experienced parent. Your baby will give you the most important information—how she likes to be treated, talked to, held, and comforted. This section address the most common questions and concerns that arise during the first months of life.


Birth – 3 Months


Physical Skills:

  • Raises head & chest when on stomach
  • Stretches & kicks on back​
  • Opens and s​huts hands
  • Brings hand to mouth
  • Grasps and shakes toys

Social Skills:

  • Begins to develop social smile
  • Enjoys playing with people​​​
  • More communicative
  • More expressive with face & body
  • Imitates some movements & expressions

Sensory Milestones:

  • Follows moving objects
  • Recognizes familiar objets and people at a distance
  • Starts using hands and eyes in coordination
  • Prefers sweet smells
  • Prefers soft to coarse sensations
4 – 7 Months


Physical Skills:

  • Rolls bot​h ways
  • Sits with and ​without support of hands
  • Supports whole weight on l​egs
  • Reaches with one hand
  • Transfers object from hand to hand
  • Uses raking grasp

Social Skills:

  • Enjoys social play
  • I​nteres​ted in mirror images
  • Responds to expressions of emotions
  • Appears joyful often

Cognitive Thinking:

  • Finds partially hidden object
  • Explores with ha​nds and​ mouth
  • Struggles to get obj​ects that are out of reach
8 – 12 Months


Physical Skills:

  • Gets to sitting​ position​ without help
  • Crawls forward on belly
  • Assumes hands and knees ​positions
  • Gets from sitting to crawling position
  • Pulls self up to stand
  • Walks holding on to furniture​

Social Skills:

  • Shy or anxious with strangers
  • Cries whe​n parents leave
  • Enjoys imitating peopl​e in play
  • Prefers certain people and toys
  • Tests parental response
  • Finger-feeds himself

Cognitive Thinking:

  • Explores objects in different ways
  • Finds hidden objects easily
  • Looks at correct picture when the image​ is named
  • Imitates gestures
  • Begins to use objects correctly

Your child is advancing from infancy toward and into the preschool years. During this time, his physical growth and motor development will slow, but you can expect to see some tremendous intellectual, social, and emotional changes.


Physical Skills

  • Walks alone
  • Pulls toys behind when walking
  • Begins to run
  • Stands on tiptoe
  • Kicks a ball
Social Skills
  • Imitates behavior of others
  • Aware of herself as separate from others
  • Enthusiastic about company of other children
  • Cognitive Thinking
  • Finds objects even when hidden 2 or 3 levels deep
  • Sorts by shape and color
  • Plays make-believe
  • Preschool

    Before you know it, your child has turned four and then five years old. You may find that your somewhat calm child of three has now become a dynamo of energy, drive, bossiness, belligerence, and generally out-of-bounds behavior.


    Physical Skills

    • Climbs well
    • Walks up and down stairs, alternating feet
    • Kicks ball
    • Runs easily
    • Pedals tricycle
    • Bends over without falling
    Social Skills
  • Imitates adults and playmates
  • Show affection for familiar playmates
  • Can take turns in games
  • Understands “mine” and “his / hers”​
  • Cognitive Thinking
  • Makes mechanical toys work
  • Matches an object in hand to picture in book
  • Plays make believe
  • Sorts objects by shape and color
  • Completes 3 – 4 piece puzzles
  • Understands concept of “two”
  • Gradeschool

    Your child should feel confident in her ability to meet the challenges in her life. This sense of personal power evolves from having successful life experiences in solving problems independently, being creative and getting results for her efforts.


    ​There are many opportunities during this time of life for you to talk to your child about what she’s experiencing. Your child needs to understand the phys­ical changes that will occur in her body during puberty.


    Adolescence can be a challenge for parents. Your teen may at times be a source of frustration and exasperation, not to mention financial stress. But these years also bring many, many moments of joy, pride, laughter and closeness.


    Dating & Sex

    ​Parents are a teenager’s primary source of information and guidance in matters of sex, sexuality, dating and love. “The Talk” should be an ongoing series of discussions that take place whenever your teenager has a question concerning sex or whenever a “teachable moment” presents itself.

    Driving Safety

    The best any adult can do to safeguard teenagers is to make safety a way of life and to instill in their sons and daughters respect for firearms, motor vehicles and other potential hazards. Then they have to trust them to go out into the world and observe the same standards practiced at home.​

    Substance Abuse

    The peer pressure to try drugs is no less intense than the sexual pressure that so many adolescents face. As with any situation that could conceivably lead to trouble, we need to prepare our kids to refuse offers of alcohol and other drugs–preferably without alienating their peers, although sometimes that isn’t possible.

    Young Adult



    A young adult who goes away to a college or a job far from home has to build a social support system from the ground up. At the same time, he may have to acclimate himself to a drastically different environment.

    • College Checklist
    • Entrance Exams
    • Sports
    • Financial Planning
    • Applications
    • Finding the right college
    • Campus Tours
    • On Campus Programs
    • Family Support
    • Freshmen Year
    • Career Path
    • Drinking Responsibly
    • Letting go
    • Staying healthy
    • Exam Stress