Dear Parent:
If you are like most parents today, your greatest challenge is probably caring for your baby while also taking care of yourself and your responsibilities. The competing demands on your time and energy make finding the time to connect with your baby no small challenge.

But daily activities, such as feeding, bathing, and grocery shopping, don’t need to take time away from bonding with and enjoying your baby. In fact, these everyday moments are rich opportunities to encourage your child’s development by building her:

  • self-confidence
  • curiosity
  • social skills
  • self-control
  • communication skills

Most of all you build her desire to learn about her world.

This chart will help you understand the stages your infant passes through on her life’s journey.  The guidance section will give you some ideas on how to interpret the stages and use everyday moments to foster healthy development.  Remember that infants and toddlers are unique and do not necessarily fall exactly into these stages. For detailed developmental information

6 Months

I roll from my back to my stomach and stomach to my back. I sit well and lean on my hands. My feet are something I love to play with. I can grasp things and pull them to me and will use my mouth to explore them. If I have a toy I can transfer it from one hand to the other. I babble and can recognize faces.

Breast feed every 2-4 hours or give 25-28 ounces of iron fortified formula in 24 hours Infant juice can be introduced in small amounts (1-4 oz.) Also iron fortified cereal may be introduced in small amounts (1-4 Tbs.) using a spoon. When a child shows signs of a chewing motion offer mashed or soft foods.

I look around to find where new sounds are coming from (doorbell, phone). When we play together I like to make sounds (talk). I reach towards an object and I will watch a rolling ball for a long way (10 ft).

It is important to hold and talk to your baby often. Reserve "no-no" for when it is really needed. Try to be consistent friendly & firm with limit setting. Play lots of back & forth games. These form the foundations of later communication skills.

9 Months

I sit without help and can hold two objects. Sometimes I like to bang toys or objects together. I love to play hide and seek with toys and can find the toys you hide. Although I like to creep and crawl I also like to sit with you and look at pictures in a book. If I see a stranger I am shy or frightened.

Breast feed every 1-3 hours or give 16-35 ounces of iron fortified formula in 24 hours. Your baby will eat about 2 Tbs. to 2 cups of pureed or soft fruit/vegetables. Finger foods such as soft cooked green or orange vegetables, peeled fruits, crackers and Melba toast provide variety.

I recognize names of common items (cup, shoe, juice) and will turn my head towards a soft sound. I am a copy cat and like to imitate different speech sounds (mama, dada), I watch adults across a large room and will respond to my name. I will use both eyes together with both eyes moving simultaneously.

Continue to be consistent in your routine especially at bedtime. Naps are important. If your baby wants a security blanket it's OK. Make sure the environment is safe for exploring and encourage communication skills by describing what he is doing. Try not to set an unreasonable number of limits and be sure to praise good behavior. Introduce new people while holding your baby.

12 Months

I pull myself to stand and can stand alone. I love to play at picking things up with my thumb and finger and putting them in and out of containers. I like to give affection and wave 'bye bye". I point to my nose, eyes etc. and may say 2-3 words. I like to scribble with a crayon and attend when you give me simple commands.

Breast feed every 2-4 hours or give 27-31 ounces of iron fortified formula in 24 hours. Your baby will be able to take between 7 Tabs and 3/4 cup of infant cereal a day. To drink, give 2-6 ounces of fruit juice. At this time offer pasteurized whole milk fortified with vitamins A and D. Your baby will eat 3/4 to 2 cups of vegetables & fruits a day and may eat 1/4 to 1/2 cup of legumes & 1 Tbs. to 1 ounce of finely chopped or ground meat a day.

I like to listen to simple stories and rhymes and am beginning to imitate speech sounds. I use different consonant sounds at the beginning of words and understand "no" and "bye bye". I react when I hear an interesting noise. I can recognize familiar objects as far away as 8-10 feet.

Anticipate your child's actions & redirect before inappropriate behavior begins. It is important to be consistent in enforcing a rule. Help him show you what he wants. Present two toys and ask, "Which do you want?" Encourage him to show you which he wants by pointing or reaching.
Be patient and experiment with foods to help him find what he likes. Offer him choices. Create a safe home & always keep your child in sight during waking hours.

18 Months

I walk, run and climb as I try to explore everything. If you help me I can walk up and down steps. I may be able to identify four body parts and use 10-12 words that I try to put together. Pictures in books are fun to look at. You can usually find me playing by myself or near others. I do not share.

At 18 months an average serving of milk is 1/2 cup (4 ounces) and an average serving of meat is 1/2 ounce of meat, fish, poultry and egg. Don't worry as growth slows and appetite decreases. DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD EAT PEANUT BUTTER FROM A SPOON OR FINGER AS THIS INCREASES THE RISK OF CHOKING. PEANUT BUTTER SHOULD ALWAYS BE SERVED ON ANOTHER FOOD (crackers, breads, vegetables, etc.)

I use speech sounds to get or keep attention (not crying) I say "no" and understand what it means. I am also saying more and more words every month. I can stack three blocks and can pick up small beads or thread them. I can attend to an object even if it is 10 ft away. Walking is more fun as I do not bump into things often.

Praise throughout the day for appropriate behavior. Expect temper tantrums but don't give in. Be consistent even in public using the same techniques. Follow your child's lead and join him as he explores the world. This tells him his interests and ideas are important. Have a few books on hand to read. He will like to look at the same one over and over. Include your child in every day activities and provide opportunities for him to play with other children. Be relaxed about food.

2-3 Years

I can kick a ball and walk up and down stairs. Now I can use 2-3 words together and follow simple directions. If I want something I can ask for it by name as I can say at least 50+ words. I like to use my hands to open doors and unscrew lids. I like to let you know that something belongs to me by saying "mine." I use pronouns instead of using my name.

At 2-3 years the average size for fruits & vegetables is 3 Tbs.. The average serving for grains is 1 slice of bread, 1/3 cup of cooked cereal or 1/2 a cup of dry cereal. Do not force children to clean their plates. Sweet foods should be offered sparingly. BE SURE CHILD CAN CHEW FOODS WELL ENOUGH TO AVOID CHOKING.

I like to imitate sounds (dog barking, cow mooing). I also put two words together ("more cookie" or "more juice"). I can point to a picture and tell you what it is. If two things are the same I can match them together. Scribbling is something I love to do.

Toilet training readiness in some children begins between 2-3 years. If your child shows interest use a potty chair or step stool for the toilet. Praise constantly and do not punish or get angry when accidents occur.
Continue to anticipate behavior and positively guide children.