Your baby’s vision will be clearer every day and she will start to smile at you. It’s important that you stimulate your baby’s intellectual growth by talking, singing, and reading to your baby. Introduce a few minutes of tummy time everyday to give your baby the opportunity to exercise her neck muscles. She will attempt to lift her head but will only manage a few seconds at first.
- Begins to smile at people
- May suck on her hand or thumb to briefly self-soothe
- Coos, makes gurgling sounds
- Turns head toward sounds
- Pays attention to faces
- Begins to follow things with eyes and recognise
- Begins to cry or get fussy when bored
- Can hold head up and begins to push up when lying on tummy
- Makes smoother movements with arms and legs
Developmental Aids: Around month three, your baby will get better at controlling her hands and her fingers can grasp on to toys. A floor gym with colourful hanging objects will help your baby practice kicking and reaching for items, furthering her motor skills and cognitive development.
At four months, your baby will laugh and smile when you engage with her and will start to experiment with different sounds. Your baby will also begin to roll over now, and with the support of pillows she can learn to sit up on her own too.
- Smiles spontaneously, especially at people
- Likes to play with people
- Copies some movements and facial expressions, like smiling or frowning
- Babbles with expression and copies sounds she hears
- Cries in different ways to show hunger, pain, or tiredness
- Will let you know if she is happy or sad
- Responds to affection
- Reaches for toy with one hand
- Will track a moving object with eyes from side to side
- Watches faces closely, recognises familiar people
- Holds head steady, unsupported
- Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface
- May be able to roll over from tummy to back
- Can hold a toy and shake it
- When lying on stomach, pushes up to elbows
Developmental Aids: Babies will really start to explore their toys at this age by holding them in their hands and bringing them to their mouth. Chunky toys in different shapes, colours and with a variety of surfaces are perfect for this age group. Toys that wobble will also encourage your child to reach and help their eye tracking ability. Your baby can hold their own bottle now, so try using the feeding Cognikids bottle cover to make it easier for your little one, while helping to develop the pincer grip.
Your baby’s fine motor skills and gross motor skill are developing quickly. Fine motor skills are the ability to make precise movements like picking up an item using his thumb and finger. Gross motor skills require the use of the larger muscles of the body.
One of your baby’s favourite things to do at this age is to watch reaction to her actions. She will drop a toy and wait for you to pick it up, only to drop it again. For a parent, this game can get old quickly, but for a baby, it is fascinating to her because she is making something happen and she wants to see it over and over.
You should also notice that your baby is starting to understand that objects have specific purposes. She might put the phone to her ear or try to brush her own hair. She is also getting really good at recognising objects and people. When you look at a familiar book and say the name of an object in a picture, you may notice that she will look towards the object.
- Knows familiar faces and if someone is a stranger
- Responds to other people’s emotions
- Likes to look at self in a mirror
- Responds to sounds by making sounds
- Responds to own name
- Makes sounds to show joy and displeasure
- Brings objects to her mouth
- Tries to get things that are out of reach
- Begins to pass objects from one hand to the other
- Rolls over in both directions
- Begins to sit without support
- Rocks back and forth, sometimes crawling backward before moving forward
Developmental Aids: Crawling is the first gross motor skill that your baby will develop. Parents can help encourage this activity from her sitting position by using a pull along wheeled toy to encourage her to reach for it as it moves. This will eventually bring her into the hands and knees position for crawling and as she becomes more confident, she will move towards the toy.
Your baby will also develop their motor planning skills at this age including how much force they need to use to pick up different objects, or place strategically during play. Water play is great for helping children to figure this out. In fact, many children love to try and grasp the water coming out of an object and fill it back up again.
Your baby’s gross motor skills continue to develop, and she may discover climbing before walking. The first step is to pull herself up and manoeuvre along the furniture, climbing is then a natural progression.
- May be afraid of strangers
- May be clingy with familiar adults
- Has favourite toys
- Responds to people’s expressions
- Understands “no”
- Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa”
- Uses fingers to point at things
- Watches the path of something as it falls
- Puts things in her mouth
- Moves things from one hand to the other
- Picks up small objects between thumb and index finger (pincer grip)
- Can get into sitting position
- Sits without support
- Pulls herself up to stand and might bounce on her legs when supported
Developmental Aids: Using toys that can be played with in a variety of positions, will provide opportunities to encourage your little one into the next stage of their gross motor skills development. For example, a toy with wheels can help your baby to get into the correct position for crawling when placed just out of reach of their sitting position. This encourages them to reach for the toy, eventually bringing them into the hands and knees position for crawling.
Your baby is starting to understand the relationship of objects and space, stacking or shape sorting toys will help them with this. They are perfect for small hands to gain dexterity and growing minds to learn problem solving. Watch your little one nest them, stack them into a tower, knock them down, float them in the bath, or pour water in and out. As your child grows and develops, they will enjoy using them in their imaginative play too. They are perfect as cups for a teddy bear picnic or as secret garage for a racing car!
Parents can encourage walking by making sure that their baby has lots of playtime on the floor. Walkers or stationary activity centres aren’t recommended, as you want him to get used to putting weight on his legs. Your baby’s fine motor skills are improving all the time, picking up small objects, attempting to feed himself and holding his own drinking cup.
- Hands you a book when he wants to hear a story
- Repeats sounds or actions to get attention
- Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing
- Enjoys playing games like peek-a-boo
- Uses simple gestures, like shaking head for “no” or waving “bye-bye”
- Says “mama” and “dada”
- Tries to repeat the words you encourage them to say
- Copies gestures
- Explores objects by shaking, banging, and throwing
- Puts things in and takes out of a container
- Can sit down independently
- Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture
- May take a few steps without holding on
Developmental Aids: Hearing themselves make noise will make your baby so excited. Watch them shake, rattle, and roll with some musical instruments as they create their own tunes and learn the cause-and-effect of their actions.
Wheeled toys are great for encouraging movement and co-ordination even further at this age. Show they how they can move with the toy on the ground, whether they are kneeling, crawling, or bear walking. These are great for gross motor skills and strengthening overall.
You may also introduce a pull-along toy at this stage. These are great for when your little one is walking and looking behind at the toy and then back to the front again. This really helps to build and strengthen the vestibular system, which is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation to help gross motor functions like keeping our balance.
Your toddler’s brain is developing nerve connections and pathways that are affected by all the things they try and learn. Encourage and praise attempts at new and existing activities, so that your toddler will gain confidence.
- Likes to hand things to others as play
- May have temper tantrums
- May be afraid of strangers
- Shows affection to familiar people
- Plays simple pretend, such as feeding a baby
- Points to show others something interesting
- Says several single words
- Says and shakes head “no”
- Points to show someone what he wants
- Points to get the attention of others
- Shows interest in a doll or teddy by pretending to feed
- Points to one body part
- Scribbles on his own
- Can follow 1-step instructions like “sit down”
- Walks independently
- May walk up steps and run
- Pulls toys while walking
- Can help undress herself
- Drinks from a cup
- Eats with a spoon
Developmental Aids: Your toddler’s speech development will benefit from lots of reading aloud and toys that communicate recordings of words. Building towers using blocks or large building pieces will help their cognitive development and pull-along toys will improve their gross motor skills.
Puzzles, board games, or stacking toys give parents teaching moments with their toddler to learn about shapes, colours, the different sizes of similar objects and numbers. Try counting to ten and introducing the concepts of ‘in’ and ‘on’, ‘your turn’, ‘up’ and ‘down’. Encourage your little one to name objects and pictures while you play.
This is also a great time to get your child involved in pretend play. Let them mimic your meal preparation with their kitchen play sets, including chopping fruit and vegetables.
Your child’s memory is developing fast, and she can now talk about people who are not there with them at the time. Your child’s imagination is growing and play time is centred largely around games of make-believe, where they mimic scenarios that they see around them.
- Copies adults and other children
- Get excited when with other children
- Shows independence
- Shows defiant behaviour
- Plays mainly beside other children but starts to include other children.
- Points to items in a picture when they are named
- Knows and can name familiar people and body parts
- Says sentences with two to four words
- Follows simple instructions
- Repeats words
- Finds things when hidden
- Begins to sort shapes and colours
- Plays simple make-believe games
- Builds towers of 4 or more blocks
- Follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the box.”
- Names items in a picture book like “cat”
- Stands on tiptoe
- Kicks a ball
- Begins to run
- Climbs on and off furniture independently
- Walks up and down stairs holding on
- Throws a ball
- Can draw or copy a straight line or circle
Developmental Aids: Your toddler will love to learn and explore through play with toys that help their imagination grow like play kitchens, or those that encourage creativity like sand, paint and crayons.
This is an important time to work on your child’s fine motor skills for pre-school. The pincer grip helps them to hold a crayon or paintbrush and in time a pencil. But your child’s hand and finger strength require arm and shoulder strength too to give their little hands the stability they need. Fishing play sets, toys that use a wooden hammer and peg or ball, balancing toys, squeezing play dough, and working with creative sand play sets are all perfect for this kind of muscle development.
Children of this age enjoy imaginative free play, often using everyday objects as a symbol for something else. The tea towel that becomes a superhero cape is known as symbolic play and helps a child to develop the brain connections needed for their language development.
Parents can encourage pretend play by using household objects along with themed toy play sets, such as those that involve pretend food, animals, or dress-up toys. This type of play will help with your little one’s vocabulary and conversation, especially when you play with them.
Your child can now speak in longer sentences and will start asking lots of questions as they try to understand more about their world. They enjoy playing with other children and move from parallel play to associative play. This is where your child will play with other children, but it is not organised towards a common goal.
- Copies adults and friends
- Takes turns in games
- Shows concern for a crying friend
- Understands the idea of “mine” and “his/hers”
- Shows a wide range of emotions
- Dresses and undresses self
- Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps
- Can name most familiar things
- Says first name, age, and sex
- Names a friend
- Talks well enough for strangers to understand
- Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences
- Can work toys with buttons and moving parts
- Plays make-believe with dolls and animals
- Can do a puzzle with 4 pieces
- Can turn the pages of a book, one at a time
- Screws and unscrews lids
- Climbs well
- Runs easily
- Pedals a tricycle
- Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step
Developmental Aids: Your toddler will enjoy sensory play dough and water toys, along with puzzles to problem solve. Chunky threading bead sets require lots of concentration and dexterity that will strengthen little hands and fingers and improve their fine motor skills. While toys like scooters, tricycles and pop-up tunnels will help their gross motor skills including balance and co-ordination.
At this age, imaginative make-believe play using dress-up and toy playsets will help your child to learn to play with others. This is an ideal time to explore concepts like sharing and taking turns which are important social skills.