Parent's Resource Center


Child development
  • Remember the sequence in which your child reaches milestones is much more important than the age.
  • Children usually grow in a fairly predictable way but the range of what is considered normal is broad. If you are worried about your child's development check with your doctor or child health nurse.
  • Learning to understand the world, being imaginative, expressing feelings, coordinating the body and being with others, are all related - and all are as important as each other.


Growing and moving

Newborn to rolling over

  • Newborn babies need to have their necks protected. To help strengthen their necks, put them on their stomach for a little while each day.
  • To help babies reach out for, hold and bring toys to the mouth, put them on their back and give them a clean, safe object which can't be swallowed, like a rattle, block or plastic cup to grasp.
  • Babies enjoy and need to kick and throw their arms around. Put a toy or noisy object at their feet so they can have fun.
  • Babies can get bored being in the same place all the time. Take baby with you, in a sling or pram, as you move around.
  • Babies can roll over at any age, sometimes at the worst moments, like on a bed or change table. Never leave baby alone.

Crawling to walking

  • Rolling over is the start of learning to crawl. Babies will go from rolling, to rocking on all fours, to crawling. They will soon be into everything.
  • If you have stairs it's important to have a secure gate at both the top and bottom of them. Put a gate in as soon as your baby shows any signs of crawling.
  • After babies learn to crawl they'll try and stand up by pulling on things. Be careful - they can now reach hot cups of tea, sharp knives or electric cords. They will be able to pull things onto themselves.
  • At about 14 months babies begin to climb. They find it easy to climb up (this sometimes can be dangerous) but will need your help getting down.
  • Once baby is on the move it's time to move precious or dangerous things.
  • Babies like doing things over and over and over again.
Expressing feelings

  • Crying is a baby's only way of telling you what they need. Babies cry when they need help. They may be hungry, scared, lonely or hurt.
  • Babies will learn trust and feel safe by having their needs met promptly. Babies learn to trust people when they are held, protected and loved. This is not spoiling your baby.
  • It's a thrill when your baby first smiles at you. The baby has learnt another way to express feelings.
  • By the time your baby is six months old you will have learnt a lot. You'll usually understand what the cries, gurgles and smiles mean. Babies love it when you talk to them.
Being with others

  • Babies learn from everyone around them. They need people so they can learn how to express their feelings.
  • Babies like human faces and voices and soon recognize their parents.
  • Babies quickly learn how to get attention by holding up their arms and wriggling. They love playing games with adults.
  • Many parents think about returning to work when their child is about eight months old. At about this age some babies are nervous and don't like meeting or being left with new people. They may become upset. This stage will pass!
  • Provide toys that help your child feel good about their abilities. Take note of suggested ages on packaging as toys made for older children may leave infants and toddlers frustrated. From nine months babies love feeling successful, especially when you tell them and encourage them.
  • At around 12 months babies may like being with other babies and toddlers. Some babies may take a little longer to feel comfortable with other children.


Talking and thinking


  • Babies begin to learn as soon as their eyes are open. They learn most from home. You are your baby's most important teacher.
  • Babies learn by hearing you talk and sing to them. They learn by doing things over and over.
  • Babies are talking to you from their first cry. It's important to talk to them. When they gurgle and coo - gurgle and coo back at them and watch them smile!
  • When sounds are repeated back to babies it tells them you think what they are saying is important.
  • Remember your local library - it will have lots of information - books, tapes and music. There may also be a toy library near you or ask the Coordinator at the Parenting Information Center.


Things to watch for

Ages & Stages baby Babies all develop at a different rate. But there are things to look out for so you know your child is developing normally.

By one month your baby should:

  • 'startle' at loud noises
  • suck and swallow easily
  • show gains in weight and height
  • make eye contact when awake and being held.

By four months your baby should:

  • start to raise head and upper body when lying on tummy
  • return a smile
  • follow a moving object with both eyes
  • turn head to locate sounds
  • reach for familiar objects or familiar people.

By eight months your baby should:

  • smile, babble and laugh aloud
  • appear interested in new and unusual sounds
  • reach for and grasp objects and search for hidden objects
  • sit unsupported.

By 12 months your baby should:

  • blink when fast moving objects approach the eye
  • pull to stand
  • creep or crawl on hands and knees
  • imitate simple sounds
  • transfer objects from hand to hand.

By 18 months to two years your baby should:

  • attempt to talk or repeat words
  • walk alone with very little help
  • show different emotions: anger, delight, fear
  • show an interest in pictures.

Check with your child health nurse or doctor if your baby hasn't reached these milestones by the ages suggested.

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