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Milestones are the things a child can do by a certain age. Most children develop skills and abilities in roughly the same order, but the timeframes involved aren’t exact. They vary from child to child, just as hair and eye color do.

Birth to 18 Months

During this period of profound growth and development, babies grow and change rapidly. Doctors recommend that you speak to your baby a lot during this phase, because hearing your voice will help your baby to develop communication skills. Other suggestions include:

  • Short periods of tummy time to help strengthen your baby’s neck and back muscles — but make sure baby is awake and you’re close by for this playtime.
  • Respond right away when your baby cries. Picking up and comforting a crying baby builds strong bonds between the two of you.
18 Months to 2 Years

During the toddler years, children continue to need lots of sleep, good nutrition, and close, loving relationships with parents and caregivers. Doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital offer this advice for creating a safe, nurturing space to maximize your child’s early growth and development:

  • Create predictable routines and rituals to keep your child feeling secure and grounded.
  • Toddler-proof your home and yard so kids can explore safely.
  • Use gentle discipline to guide and teach children. Avoid hitting, which can cause long-term physical and emotional harm.
  • Sing, talk, and read to your toddler to boost their vocabularies.
  • Watch your child for cues about the warmth and reliability of all caregivers.
  • Take good care of yourself physically and emotionally, because your child needs you to be healthy.
3 to 5 Years Old

During these pre-school years, children grow more and more independent and capable. Their natural curiosity is likely to be stimulated because their world is expanding: new friends, new experiences. During this time of growth, the CDC Trusted Source recommends that you:

  • Keep reading to your child daily.
  • Show them how to do simple chores at home.
  • Be clear and consistent with your expectations, explaining what behaviors you want from your child.
  • Speak to your child in age-appropriate language.
  • Help your child problem solve when emotions are running high.
  • Supervise your child in outdoor play spaces, especially around water and play equipment.
  • Allow your child to have choices about how to interact with family members and strangers.
School Age Development

During the school years, children gain independence and competence quickly. Friends become more important and influential. A child’s self-confidence will be affected by the academic and social challenges presented in the school environment. As kids mature, the parenting challenge is to find a balance between keeping them safe, enforcing rules, maintaining family connections, allowing them to make some decisions, and encouraging them to accept increasing responsibility. Despite their rapid growth and development, they still need parents and caregivers to set limits and encourage healthy habits. Here are some things you can do to ensure that your child continues to be healthy:

  • Make sure they get enough sleep.
  • Provide opportunities for regular exercise and individual or team sports.
  • Create quiet, positive spaces for reading and studying at home.
  • Limit screen time and monitor online activities carefully.
  • Build and maintain positive family traditions.
  • Talk to your children about consent and setting boundaries with their bodies.