Child development

Child development

Children generally develop in stages. These stages are called milestones.

Dad’s role in child development

As a dad, you have an important role to play in your child’s development. Children develop quickly in the early years, and a child’s experiences between birth and the age of five will have a major impact on their future life chances.

You can support your child’s healthy development by:

•  providing a safe and loving home; and

•  spending time playing, singing, reading to and talking with your baby.

Comforting – To feel secure, babies need love, comfort and protection. This also means responding to your baby’s cues and needs. To do this effectively, you need to try to get to know your baby and to see things from their point of view.

Playing – This is essential to your baby’s development. It’s their way of exploring and learning about their world. Play allows children to solve problems and practice skills over and over again, in their own time, and to develop ideas at their own pace. Playing with your baby supports loving connections and bonding.

Teaching – When babies become toddlers, we can teach our children a great deal by providing routines and setting safe rules and boundaries in loving ways. All of these things will help our child develop ways of managing their own feelings, understanding the world around them, keeping themselves safe, and caring about others. Remember that babies are too young to be taught, and that it is only when they become toddlers that we can gently introduce rules, and always with patience, kindness and love.

Soothing and calming – Both babies and toddlers can experience strong feelings of upset and distress, as well as frustration when toddlers. At the beginning, as babies, they are not able to manage these strong feelings and rely on their parents to manage them for them. We do this by soothing and calming babies with a gentle voice, and with holding, rocking and cuddling. Gradually, we do this alongside our toddlers, to help them to manage their feelings with our help. Talking to infants and toddlers in a calm and soothing voice helps them to feel safe and secure.




 All children are unique and will develop at their own pace. The milestones below can be used as a helpful guide as to when your baby may gain certain skills and learn new things.

Some children just need a little extra time to reach certain milestones, but if you have any concerns about your child’s development, speak to your Health Visitor or GP for advice. It might help to write down your observations – for example, if something is bothering you about the way your baby is interacting with you, or how they are sitting or crawling – to help you explain your concerns clearly to a health professional.

Baby milestones

1-4 weeks  Your baby will love looking at faces and will start to recognise yours. They may be startled when they hear a loud noise.

4-6 weeks  Your baby will start to smile and respond to sounds around them. Encourage your baby by making faces and noises and by talking about what is going on around them.

4-12 weeks  Your baby will try to lift their head while lying on their front. Give plenty of opportunities for ‘tummy time’.

3-5 months  Your baby will start to reach out for objects as their muscles develop. To support your baby, give them attention and play with them.

4-6 months  Your baby will enjoy making new and different sounds – help this development by singing nursery rhymes and songs.

6 months  Your baby can hold objects and is learning to pass the object from hand to hand. Give your baby toys they can pick up and move around, as this will help with co-ordination.

6-8 months  Your baby is getting stronger and will start to sit without assistance.

6-9 months  Your baby may start to pull themselves up and stand, while holding on to furniture.

9-11 months  Your baby can now let go of things, or hand an object to someone.

10-18 months  Although a little unsteady, your baby will start trying to walk on their own.

12-18 months  Your baby may start to say words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’.