Children like to explore the world around them and have great ease in learning new things quickly. On the other hand, like any phase of our life, they have their own learning time. And it is up to us to stimulate to the maximum while, at the same time, observe, acknowledge and respect each child’s unique development timeline. 

Obviously, we need to keep observant and pay attention to red-flags when we notice stagnation, challenges, or something that just doesn’t seem right. We should be aware of development milestones guidelines as a compass, and notice where our little ones fall in those ranges and track their progress or delays.

In this article, I aim to give a brief overview of the child development phases from when the baby is born until age 3. I will share the baby’s perception of the world around them and how this perception develops through the years.

How are the phases of child development divided from 0 to 3 years?

For the child to develop well, parents need to fully understand what each phase is like, encourage and stimulate their child, and guide them naturally, without acting coercive and disrespecting each child’s time.

Often, parents think they are doing the right thing when “guiding” their little to a skill beyond what they have currently mastered or even skipping some stages, but it is vital that your child experiences all stages of childhood. By respecting your child’s time, they will learn things in their own way and be better prepared to succeed in the next stages. Therefore, understand the importance of your child to live each phase well until mastering those phases’ skills and consider it a milestone in their development. Parents’ role is not to try to force them to advance to the next step but to encourage them as much as possible to learn everything they need in the current stage they are. It is more about supporting than interfering. In my courses, I explain how learning happens through scaffolding and the i+1 theory. 

From 0 to 1 year

The baby’s vision is blurred at birth but improves month by month until it fully develops, becoming clear between 4-6 months. Meanwhile, the body gains strength until it is ready to walk. At three months, the support of the head is usually already established and soon, sitting with support at six months and, without help, at nine months.

Between 7 and 8 months, the baby crawls and moves from places with more autonomy and courage. With vigor and desire to evolve, babies will further interact in games and dialogues with adults. Generally, this is the stage when they’ll discover the existence of their teeth and the strength of their bite.

The first attempts to standing and cruising usually occur at around 9 months still with support. At this stage, the baby is still crawling, and they recognize the routines and patterns for going to sleep, bathing and identifies themselves when they hear their name.

Cognition is quite advanced around 10 to 12 months; the baby can already babble some sounds, interact better to communicate what they want, and recognize shapes.

From 1 to 2 years old

It is a phase of intermediate autonomy, in which your little one can walk and already knows how to feed themselves with their hands. This is the phase which requires a lot of parenting balance in terms of giving enough autonomy, so children can learn and practice doing things on their own, but also lots of close supervision because the child is already able to move more independently and lots of accidents tend to happen here. You don’t want to overprotect them – they do need to learn the consequences of their actions – so good judgement needs to be exercised. Cognition, too, is already well-developed at this stage. The child can play with pencils and play dough, learning to express themselves in different ways, in addition to recognizing their name.

This is usually when nursing or bottle feeding  weaning begins to occur and that the child can already do some daily tasks such as: brushing teeth, choosing their clothes, and sometimes even undressing themselves, depending on the type of clothes. Close to 24 months, your little one will already be able to form small sentences, even so, they may not make much sense, their vocabulary continues to expand.

From 2 to 3 years old

By 2 to 3 years old, your child will have developed a whole lot. They already know the body’s own ability to move, and have attitudes to express and impose their wishes and wants. During this phase, you will soon notice their preferred word:  no [lol].

At this age, your little one already knows how to run and jump without difficulty. If parents encourage, they will already know how to choose their clothes independently and even dress themselves since they will have their motor skills well-developed. They can have conversations with adults and build long, meaningful sentences and even sing songs.

They have greater control over their body and mind, which further increases their independence. Their ability to concentrate increases, so they can receive even more information, being able to learn letters and numbers, for example, and use educational toys. You will see they are able to staying focused on a task for a long time.

The changes in this phase are more visible to the parents, because they symbolize rupture, or end of a cycle, such as completely stopping breastfeeding or potty training. 

The child shows more autonomy and personality, however, we need to understand that for children to thrive in this phase independently, they must have been well-stimulated during the other phases as well. This means that the development of each child is directly linked to the experiences and stimuli they receive from their parents and caregivers in the previous phases. I always tell parents that the present state in which you find your child, is a direct result of what it was done, or not done during the previous months, in terms of experiences, stimuli, boundaries, and discipline.