6 Stages of Early Childhood Development

The first 5 years of a child’s life are the most important period of development physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Below we break down the key milestones for children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1. Prime time

According to the World Bank, “A child who is ready for school has a combination of positive characteristics: he or she is socially and emotionally healthy, confident, and friendly; has good peer relationships; tackles challenging tasks and persists with them; has good language skills and communicates well; and listens to instructions and is attentive.

2. 2 months

Tries to look at parents, begins to smile. Makes gurgling sounds, turns head toward other sounds. Pays attention to faces and can recognize people at a distance. Holds head up; can push up when lying on tummy.

3. 4 months

Copies some movements and facial expressions such as frowning or smiling. Starts to babble with expression. Responds to affection; reveals whether happy or sad. Can push up to elbows when lying on stomach.


4. 6 months

Knows familiar and unfamiliar faces. Babbles with vowels and consonant sounds. Has increasing curiosity about things. Sits with support.


5. 9 months

Has favorite toys. Copies gestures and sounds. Looks for hidden objects; can pick up smaller objects between thumb and index finger. Pulls to stand; stands holding on to objects.

6. 1 year

Shy or nervous with strangers. Shows favoritism with certain people. Uses simple gestures. Says mama and dada and exclamations like uh oh. Follows simple directions such as pick up the toy.