After you bring your baby home from the hospital, you and your pediatrician will be on the lookout for a variety of much discussed milestones. That first smile is so affirming to every new parent, and the much anticipated first laugh or ability to sit up or roll will surely be documented on video. Of course, everyone from parents to grandparents to daycare providers and friends and family will be on the lookout for those first steps. But once that exciting first year is over, there are some subtle milestones that will take your growing child through his preschool years, so look out!
If your child has not taken her first steps by the age of 1, most likely, she will take them between the ages of 1 and 2, and usually before 18 months. Between the ages of 1 and 2, most children will take their first steps if they have not done so already. But once your child starts moving, there are some really exciting milestones that tend to appear at this age. Your toddler may use her new ability to recognize most objects and familiar people to put together simple phrases. She’ll also learn the art of imitation, mimicking the behavior or others. You’ll notice that she’ll recognize herself in the mirror, and that greater sense of self will lead to a greater sense of independence as well! Expect some defiance at this age, but enjoy the fact that your little one is beginning to feel more agency in her world.
Between the ages of 2 and 3, kids have learned to make much better sense of the world. You’ll now be able to offer them a simple set of instructions, with two or three steps to follow, and they should be able to follow them at this point. They may even begin to give directions of their own! Kids at this age will start to sort objects by color and shape, and will be stacking blocks higher and higher than ever before! They’ll also start to feel more complicated emotions at this stage. Remember, your toddler may have trouble expressing his new emotions, like worry or gratitude, so help him to find the right words, in order to avoid frustration and make your communication with him even better.
Once your child hits preschool age, her behaviors and capabilities will really expand. Between the ages of 3 and 5, her motor skills will become more refined, allowing her to dress and undress herself, do simple arts and crafts projects, using safety scissors, and even ride a tricycle! She’ll be able to sing a song and her ability to communicate will be much stronger. Since children at this age learn to play together and interact more than ever before, your child may even come home from preschool talking about her new friends from school!
So yes, while first smiles and first words are exhilarating, remember to watch for more subtle and nuanced milestones as your child develops. These emotions, interactions, and abilities are all key to shaping your child’s unique personality!