Ages and Stages of Child Development

Ages and Stages Photo Gallery

1
Each Stage of Childhood Is Both Unique and Universal

Mother measuring daughters height in living room
Hero Images Getty

When you ask parents which age was the most difficult when raising their kids, they will often reply with whatever age or stage their kids are at the moment. Parenting does come with its challenges, but it also comes with many joys as well.

As kids grow, each parent must deal with new things and understand that each child is unique. However, most of the time the experiences a parent can expect are pretty universal.

What Are the Stages of Child Development?

Though each child may grow and develop at a slightly different rate, each stage has a commonly accepted definition and age range.

  • Newborn or Neonate - birth to 28 days
  • Infant - 1 to 12 months
  • Toddler - 1 to 3 years
  • Preschooler - 3 to 5 years
  • School Age - 5 to 11 years
  • Preteen or Tween - 11 to 12 years
  • Teen - 13 and older

That may seem like a simple way to look at the demands of parenting. Yet, when you look at parenting more objectively, you usually do find that each age does have its own challenges.

Many of these difficult times revolve around transitions. For instance, when your baby weans from the breast, moves from a crib to a bed, gives up his naps, and starts kindergarten, etc.

Learning about and anticipating these childhood transitions can make parenting a little easier. That is what you will find as we explore the ages and stages of child development. We'll examine common issues and problems that you may face as your child grows and answer a number of frequently asked questions.

2
A Newborn Baby

A Newborn Baby
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A Newborn Baby. Photo (c) Brent Deuel

A happy and healthy newborn baby will spend most of his time sleeping or eating.

At first, your baby will get all of his or her nutrition from breast milk or an iron-fortified infant formula. If you plan on breastfeeding, ask the hospital staff if they will allow you to nurse your baby right after delivery and before the baby is taken to the nursery.

Remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk "for all infants in whom breastfeeding is not specifically contraindicated" and that "breastfeeding is optimal for infants."

What You Need to Know About Your New Baby

  • Breastfeeding newborns should nurse about 8 to 12 times each day.
  • If you need help breastfeeding, talk to your pediatrician or find a lactation consultant for extra help and support.
  • Formula-fed babies usually drink about 1 to 3 ounces every 2 to 4 hours.
  • Put your baby to sleep on his back to reduce his risk of SIDS. Never put him down alone on a waterbed, beanbag, or soft blanket that can cover his face and cause choking.
  • The first visit to the doctor is usually when your baby is 3 to 5 days old. This is especially important to make sure she isn't losing too much weight and isn't getting jaundice.
  • Remember that according to the latest car seat guidelines, infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat (infant-only rear facing car seat or rear-facing convertible car seat). They should remain in one until they are two years old or they have reached the weight and height limits of the car seat.
  • Until your baby is older and her immune system is stronger, it is probably a good idea to keep her from large groups of people or other sick children. This will minimize her exposure to infections.
  • Find out if you need a carbon monoxide detector in your home to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

3
Two- to Eight-Weeks

A two-week-old newborn baby.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A two-week-old newborn baby. Photo (c) Karen Squires

At two weeks, your baby will still spend most of her time either sleeping or eating. The fun part is that she will also be awake and alert for longer periods of time.

By two weeks, most breastfeeding babies will eat every 1 1/2 to 3 hours and bottle feeding babies will take 2 to 3 ounces every 2 to 4 hours. By 4 to 8 weeks, your baby will likely be on a more predictable schedule.

At this age, it is usually best to simply feed your baby "on-demand" by following her cues. Remember that not every cry is a "hunger-cry" though. You may have to set some limits, for example, not allowing her to feed every hour around the clock.

What You Need to Know About Your Two-Week-Old Baby

  • In the first few weeks, wake your baby for a feeding if she is sleeping for more than four to five hours. Later, if she is gaining weight well, you can usually let her sleep as long as she likes. Your baby will probably not begin to sleep through the night until she is three to four months old, though.
  • Your baby will probably have regained most or all of the weight that she lost in her first week.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that using a pacifier might be protective against SIDS and more parents are using them. Keep in mind that the AAP still recommends that you wait until your baby is at least a month old, only offer the pacifier at sleep times, and don't reinsert it once your baby falls asleep.
  • Your baby will likely have a checkup with her pediatrician when she is two weeks old. You can expect your doctor to check her weight, height, and head circumference and review her growth and development. She will probably have a repeat of her newborn screen test and may have her first Hepatitis B vaccine (unless it was already given in the nursery).

Common Two-Week-Old Baby Problems

4
Two- to Three-Month-Olds

A two-month-old baby.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A two-month-old baby. Photo (c) Paulus Rusyanto

Two months is a fun time. You can expect your baby to smile, laugh and make noises, and lift his head and chest up while lying on his stomach. Although your two-month-old will be awake for longer periods of time, he will still spend most of his time eating and sleeping. 

Your infant will still get all of his nutrition from breast milk or an iron-fortified infant formula. There is usually no need to supplement with water, juice, or cereal right now. It's also likely that he will be on a more predictable schedule and may be nursing or drinking 5 to 6 ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours.

What You Need to Know Your Two-Month-Old Baby

  • Feeding practices to avoid: putting your baby's bottle in bed or propping the bottle while feeding, putting cereal in the bottle, feeding the baby honey, introducing solids before 4 to 6 months, or heating bottles in the microwave.
  • If your baby has colic, you can be reassured that colic symptoms usually peak when a baby is about 6 weeks old. After that, they tend to get better and go away by the time a baby is 3 to 4 months old.
  • The AAP recommends that breastfed infants receive oral vitamin D drops each day to prevent rickets.
  • Over the next few months, developmental milestones will include rolling over, bearing weight on his legs, sitting with support, and holding on to a rattle.
  • Make sure your baby's crib is safe before you move him into it.
  • Remember that you can begin to use insect repellents with DEET on your infant once he is two months old.
  • At the two-month checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam and a review of feeding and sleep schedules. Your doctor will also measure your child's height, weight, and head circumference again. This is also the time for immunizations, including DTaP, IPV, HepB (these three may be combined in the combo vaccine Pediarix), Hib, Prevnar, and RotaTeq.

Common Infant Problems

5
Four- to Five-Month-Olds

A four-month-old baby.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A four-month-old baby. Photo (c) Eugeny Shevchenko

A four-month-old baby can likely roll over from front to back, bear weight on his legs, sit with support, pull to a sitting position, and hold on to a rattle.

At four months, breast milk or an iron-fortified infant formula is the only food that your infant needs. He should be nursing or drinking about 5 to 6 ounces 4 to 6 times each day (24 to 32 ounces total). Over the next month or two, you can start to familiarize your infant with the feel of a spoon and begin solid baby foods.

What You Need to Know About Your Four-Month-Old Baby

  • Cereal is usually the first solid you should give your infant. You can mix it with breast milk, formula, or water and feed it to your him with a spoon (not in a bottle).
  • Rice cereal is can sometimes cause constipation. Yet, cereal is a very important source of iron for your growing infant (especially if you are breastfeeding). Consider switching to oatmeal or another cereal with fiber if rice cereal is constipating your baby.
  • Set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 F to prevent scalding burns.
  • Prevent falls by not leaving your baby alone on a bed or changing table.
  • Remember that you can begin to use insect repellents with DEET on your infant once he is two months old.
  • At the four-month checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam and another review of feeding and sleep schedules as well as the height, weight, and head measurements. Immunizations include DTaP, IPV, HepB (these three may be combined in the combo vaccine Pediarix), Hib, Prevnar, RotaTeq.

Common Infant Problems

Continue to look for signs of the common issues mentioned for two-month-olds. In addition, be aware of a skin rash known as cradle cap.

6
Six- to Seven-Month-Olds

A six-month-old eating baby food.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A six-month-old eating baby food. Photo (c) Shannon Long

In addition to sitting up and rolling over, the big milestone at six months is that most kids have started to eat baby food.

Continue to give 4 to 5 feedings of breast milk or an iron-fortified infant formula (24 to 32 ounces) and 4 or more tablespoons of an iron-fortified cereal each day. You can also start to feed her well-cooked, strained, or mashed vegetables and fruits or commercially prepared baby foods.

Delay giving finger foods until your baby is eight- to nine-months-old.

Remember that while many moms wean their babies at about six months, the AAP does recommend that "breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child."

What You Need to Know About Your Six-Month-Old Baby

  • Your infant will probably have given up middle-of-the-night feedings by this age (although some breastfed infants will continue). If not, and your baby is gaining weight well, slowly reduce how much you are putting in the bottle each night. Gradually stop this feeding all together.
  • Your infant has probably doubled her birth weight by now.
  • If using a pacifier, now is a good time to start restricting its use to only when your baby is in his crib. It's a good idea to give it up altogether.
  • Now would be a good time to begin childproofing your home, before your child becomes too mobile.
  • Although you can now use sunscreen on your baby, avoid too much sun exposure.
  • The timing of when your baby's first tooth comes in can vary quite a bit, but be prepared for teething
  • At the six-month checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam, a review of feeding and sleep schedules, and the typical growth measurements. Again, immunizations include DTaP, IPV, HepB (these three may be combined in the combo vaccine Pediarix), Hib, Prevnar, or RotaTeq.

Common Infant Problems

All of the common baby issues still apply, so look for rashes, thrush, reflux, and everything previously mentioned. You'll also want to be on guard for breath-holding spells. These are common but can be very scary for a parent.

7
Eight- to Eleven-Month-Olds

An infant starting to walk at nine months.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery An infant starting to walk at nine months. Photo (c) Juan Collado

Nine-month-olds can do a lot, including being able to sit alone, pull up, stand while holding onto things, jabber and imitate sounds, crawl, and wave bye-bye.

Continue to give 3 to 5 feedings of breast milk or an iron-fortified infant formula (24 to 32 ounces) and 4 or more tablespoons of cereal, vegetables and fruit one or two times each day. You can usually start to give more protein-containing foods, soft table foods, and finger foods as well.

Your nine-month-old will now begin to explore how things work, enjoy playing peekaboo and pat-a-cake, and being read to. It is important to give lots of praise and many opportunities for exploration.

He may also begin to show separation anxiety and stranger anxiety.

What You Need to Know About Your Nine-Month-Old Infant

  • According to the latest car seat guidelines, older infants should continue to ride in a rear-facing car seat (infant-only rear facing car seat or rear-facing convertible car seat) until they are two years old or until they have reached the weight and height limits of their car seat. Although this means that some larger infants and toddlers might have to graduate to a rear-facing convertible car seat, there are several models of infant-only seats with higher, 30- to 35-pound weight limits that should get you to the next car seat safety milestone.
  • To prevent choking, never leave small objects or plastic bags in your baby's reach.
  • Falling televisions hazard: learn more about the 'hidden hazard' of kids getting injured from televisions falling on top of them and how to secure your furniture and TV so that your kids are safe.
  • Learn if you need a carbon monoxide detector in your home to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • At the nine-month checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam, a review of feeding and sleep schedules, and measurements to track your baby's growth. Typical immunizations include HepB if the third dose has not been given already. Screening tests will also likely be done. These include a blood level to check for anemia and a screening questionnaire for lead poisoning risk.

Common Infant Problems

Keep in mind all the common infant concerns already expressed and add these to your list of health issues that may come up at this age.

8
Twelve- to Fourteen-Month-Olds

A one year old's birthday party.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A one year old's birthday party. Photo (c) 2007 Vincent Iannelli, MD licensed to About.com, Inc.

Turning one includes a lot of firsts. This includes your baby's first words, first steps, of course, the first birthday party.

You can now give your baby homogenized whole cow's milk. If you are continuing to breastfeed your toddler at least 2 or 3 times a day, then he likely doesn't need cow's milk yet.

Your infant's diet will begin to resemble that of the rest of the family with 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. Although some kids at 12 months are eating only table food, some are still eating baby food alone, and some are enjoying a little of each.

What You Need to Know Your One-Year-Old

  • The AAP states that "there is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer."
  • Your child should want to feed himself with his fingers and a spoon or fork and should be able to drink out of a cup.
  • If switching from breastmilk or infant formula to milk, do not use low-fat milk until your child is 2 years old.
  • To avoid having to supplement with fluoride, use fluoridated tap water. If you are using bottled or filtered water only, then your child may need fluoride supplements. Check with the manufacturer for your water's fluoride levels.
  • Most toddlers take two naps during the day at this age and are able to sleep for the majority of the night (at least 11 hours). Some give up their morning nap between now and 18 months.
  • At the 12 month checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam, a review of feeding and sleep schedules, and the typical growth measurements. Immunizations might include some combination of MMR, Varivax, Hib, Prevnar, and Hepatitis A. Since the age range is 12 to 15 months for most of these shots, your child will likely get some now and some at the 15-month checkup. The third IPV and HepB shots are also sometimes given at 12 months.

Common Infant Problems

Continue to watch for any of the common infant health concerns we've discussed. Teething will still be a big part of your day-to-day life as well.

9
Fifteen- to Seventeen-Month-Olds

A fifteen-month-old walking down stairs.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A fifteen-month-old walking down stairs. Photo (c) Elena Korenbaum

By 15 months, most toddlers can walk well and are beginning to run, walk up steps, and can say a few words.

Most 15-month-old toddlers are off baby food and are eating table food like the rest of the family. You can give your baby homogenized whole cow's milk. If you are continuing to breastfeed your toddler at least 2 or 3 times a day, then she likely doesn't need cow's milk yet.

You should limit milk and dairy products to about 16 to 24 ounces each day and juice to 4 to 6 ounces each day. Offer her a variety of foods to encourage good eating habits later.

This is a good time to stop using a bottle if you haven't already done so.

Remember that your infant's appetite may decrease and become pickier over the next few years as her growth rate slows.

What You Need to Know About Your Fifteen-Month-Old Toddler

  • Feeding practices to avoid include giving large amounts of sweet desserts, soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sugarcoated cereals, chips or candy. All of these have little nutritional value.
  • Avoid giving foods that your child can choke on. These include raw carrots, peanuts, whole grapes, tough meats, popcorn, chewing gum, and hard candy.
  • You can expect your fifteen-month-old to combine syllables, say mama/dada, walk well alone, bang objects together, enjoy reading interactively and point to pictures. She is also probably able to say 3 to 6 words, understand simple commands, and begin to use a spoon or fork.
  • At the fifteen-month checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam, a review of feeding and sleep schedules, and the growth measurements. Immunizations may include some combination of MMR, Varivax, Hib, Prevnar, and Hepatitis A. Since the age range is 12 to 15 months for most of these shots, your child likely got some of them at his 12-month checkup and will get some now. The fourth DTaP and third IPV and HepB shots are also sometimes given at 15 months.

Common Toddler Problems

Healthwise, continue to look for the common conditions for babies. Now that you have a toddler, it's likely that you'll have some temper tantrums to deal with. It's also common for kids to become picky eaters at this stage, so do your best to thwart that habit.

10
Eighteen- to Twenty three-Month-Olds

An Eighteen-Month-Old
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery An Eighteen-Month-Old. Photo (c) Brian Powell

By eighteen months, you might be thinking of temper tantrums and the terrible twos, but this is also a very fun time with your kids.

To prevent feeding problems, teach your child to feed herself as early as possible. Provide her with healthy choices and allow experimentation.

Mealtimes should be enjoyable and pleasant and not a source of struggle. Try not to let her drink too much milk or juice so she isn't hungry for solid food. It's also not the best idea to force her to eat when she isn't hungry or to eat foods she doesn't want.

Your child may now start to refuse to eat some foods, become a very picky eater, or even go on binges where she will only want a certain food. An important way that children learn to be independent is through establishing independence about feeding. Even though your child may not be eating as well-rounded a diet as you would like, as long as she is growing normally and has a normal energy level, there is probably little to worry about.

While you should provide three well-balanced meals each day, it is important to keep in mind that many toddlers will only eat one or two full meals. If your child had a good breakfast and lunch, then it is usually okay that she doesn't want to eat much at dinner.

What You Need to Know About Your Eighteen-Month-Old Toddler

  • Children at this age are very self-centered and may play alongside each other. However, it may be some time before they actually start playing together and want to share their toys.
  • Potty training isn't usually easy. Some parents make it a little more difficult than it needs to be by making some all too common potty training mistakes.
  • At the eighteen-month checkup, your doctor will do another physical exam, schedule check, and take your toddler's growth measurements. Immunizations might include the DTaP vaccine. If they have not already been given, your child might also get her third HepB, third IPV, Varivax, and/or Hepatitis A shot.

Common Toddler Problems

11
A Two-Year-Old Toddler

A Two-Year-Old
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A Two-Year-Old. Photo (c) Rosemarie Gearhart

Two-year-olds are beginning to communicate quite a bit. Their vocabulary will likely grow to more than 50 words and they will begin to put words together.

Although most children do not eat a balanced diet each and every day and they may be picky eaters, over the course of a week or so, their diet will usually be well balanced.

At this age, you can expect your child to put on clothing, brush her teeth with help, stack 4 to 6 blocks, and know her body parts. She may also begin to use pronouns (I, me, you, mine), follow two-step commands, and her speech should be half understandable. Physically, she should be able to walk up steps, kick a ball, jump up, and throw a ball overhead.

Over the next year, her speech will become more understandable and she will be able to name pictures and colors.

What You Need to Know About Your Two-Year-Old

  • You can begin to use 2 percent, low-fat, or skim milk now that your child is 2 years old.
  • Once your child is able to climb out of her crib (especially if you have already lowered the mattress and removed the bumper pads), it is time to move her into a toddler bed. If your child is three feet tall, you may want to move her to a toddler bed even if she isn't climbing out of her crib yet.
  • According to the latest car seat guidelines, once they are two years old, toddlers should sit in a forward-facing car seat with harness straps as long as possible. This is usually until they reach the weight and height limits of their car seat.
  • Continue potty training and work on any particular issues you're having with your toddler.
  • Limit television and screen time and encourage reading and storytelling.
  • At the two-year-old checkup, you can expect the complete physical exam your doctor's been doing all along. Immunizations will likely include the second Hepatitis A shot. The screening tests for anemia in the blood and the lead-poisoning risk questionnaire are also likely to come up again.

Common Toddler Problems

Including the classic pediatric symptoms, toddlers at this age may begin to show signs of allergies (including food), asthma, and stuttering. Temper tantrums remain a struggle for many parents, though patience and consistency are key for dealing with these.

  • Croup
  • Roseola
  • Rotavirus

12
A Three-Year-Old Toddler

A Three-Year-Old Having Fun With Paint
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A Three-Year-Old Having Fun With Paint. Photo (c) Jean Schweitzer

Your three-year-old will now begin to play cooperatively with other children in small groups, share her toys, and develop friendships. Playtime may include structured games and fantasy activities.

You can give your three-year-old whole cow's milk, but remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you begin to use low-fat milk once your child is 2 years old. You might make the switch to low-fat milk if you haven't already.

Common nutrition mistakes at this age include allowing your child to drink too much milk or juice so that she isn't hungry for solid foods. Also, try not to force her to eat when she isn't hungry or to eat foods that she doesn't want.

At this age, your child is becoming more independent. You can expect her to dress herself and button clothes, brush her teeth with help, stack 9 to 10 blocks, draw circles and squares, and use scissors.

She will also be able to walk up steps by alternating her feet, jump from a step, hop, walk on her toes, pedal a tricycle, and play with imaginary friends. She will have a very large vocabulary and use 3- to 4-word sentences. You should be able to understand about three-quarters of her speech. Over the next year, her speech will become fully understandable.

Your child may now begin to ask "why" questions, tell stories, remember nursery rhymes, appreciate special events, and understand daily routines.

What You Need to Know About Your Three-Year-Old

  • According to the latest car seat guidelines, continue to use a forward-facing car seat with harness straps as long as possible or until she outgrows the seat.
  • Although they may begin to resist it, most 3-year-olds should still take a nap.
  • The first visit to the dentist is usually by age 3 years.
  • What kind of parenting style do you have? This is the period where it will begin to develop and you can take a quiz to find out.
  • At the three-year-old checkup, your doctor will once again give a complete physical exam, review schedules, and measure your child's height, weight, and blood pressure. Your child may receive her HepA shots if she hasn't had them already. A screening vision test will also likely be done.

Common Toddler Problems

13
A Four-Year-Old Preschooler

A four-year-old riding a tricycle.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A four-year-old riding a tricycle. Photo (c) Andrew Rich

Your four-year-old preschooler is probably getting a lot more independent and mobile. That makes it important to make sure he is safe.

Your child's nutrition is important to his overall health. Proper nutrition should include eating three meals a day and two nutritious snacks. You will also want to limit high sugar and high-fat foods, encourage eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. This includes three servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt to meet their calcium needs.

All of this can help prevent many medical problems, including becoming overweight, developing weak bones, and developing diabetes. It will also ensure that your child physically grows to his full potential.

At this age, you can expect your child to dress himself, brush his teeth without help, play board and card games and follow simple rules. He should be able to name four colors, hop, walk down stairs alternating feet, talk in 4- to 5-word sentences, and count to 4. His speech should be fully understandable. 

He may also enjoy singing songs and listening to stories. You might even find that he shares things spontaneously, which may catch you off guard at times.

Over the next few years, he will be able to count to ten, recognize letters of the alphabet, and be able to learn his phone number and address.

What You Need To Know About Your Four-Year-Old

  • Continue sitting your child in a car seat as long as possible or until he outgrows it.
  • Most four-year-olds should still take a nap, even though they may resist it.
  • Teaching him about stranger awareness is critical as he becomes more independent.
  • Brush his teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day and have regular dental checkups (every six months). Remember that the first visit to the dentist is usually by age 3 years.
  • At the four-year-old checkup, you can expect the complete physical exam and for your doctor to continue to monitor growth, daily routines, and blood pressure. Your child will also receive his vaccines, including the DTaP, MMR, IPV, and Varivax booster (if he hasn't had chickenpox). A screening vision test and hearing test are also common.

Common Preschool Problems

Continue to monitor your child for constipation, food and other allergies, signs of asthma, and other classic pediatric symptoms. Bedwetting and symptoms of growing pains may also begin to occur. This is a time when you may notice signs of ADHD in your preschooler as well. 

14
A Five-Year-Old Getting Ready for School

A five-year-old getting ready for school.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A five-year-old getting ready for school. Photo (c) Wendy Shiao

Age five is a big year, as your child transitions from a preschooler to an older, more mature, school age child who is getting ready to start kindergarten.

Your child's nutrition is important to his overall health, especially to help avoid childhood obesity. The best nutrition advice to keep your child healthy includes encouraging him to:

  • Eat a variety of foods.
  • Balance the food he eats with exercise and physical activity.
  • Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Choose a diet high in fiber and low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Choose a diet moderate in sugars and salt.
  • Choose a diet that provides enough calcium and iron to meet their growing body's requirements.

You can also help promote good nutrition by setting a good example. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise should be a regular part of your family's life.

What You Need to Know About Your Five-Year-Old

  • This is a time of growing independence and children at this age want to be considered more responsible. To help foster this now is a good time to begin giving your child an allowance. The amount is not very important, but 50 cents to $1.00 per year in age is a good range. Allow him to use this for special things that he wants.
  • This is a good age to start some chores as a condition for getting that allowance.
  • Continue to reinforce what you've taught him about stranger awareness.
  • Does your child have a learning disability? This quiz may help you understand the signs.
  • It's likely that your child has outgrown his car seat. If not, it's recommended to continue use until he does, then move to a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • Teach your child how to dial 911 or the emergency number available in your area.
  • At the 5-year-old checkup, you will once again go through the full physical check-up. Your child will also receive his vaccines, including the DTaP, MMR, IPV, and Varivax booster (if he hasn't had chickenpox) if he hasn't had them already. A screening vision test and a hearing test may also be done.

Common School Age Problems

  • Constipation
  • Food Allergies
  • Classic Pediatric Symptoms
  • ADHD
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Growing Pains
  • Bedwetting

15
A Six-Year-Old School Age Child

A six-year-old coloring.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A six-year-old coloring. Photo (c) Daniela Andreea Spyropoulos

Six-year-olds can sing songs, listen to stories, shares things spontaneously, recognize and print letters, and know their phone number and address.

Obesity in kids has reached epidemic levels. Experts estimate that 15 percent of kids are overweight and another 15 percent are at risk of becoming overweight. In addition, two-thirds of these overweight kids will become overweight adults.

Who or what is to blame for the rise in childhood obesity?

It depends on who you ask. The likely causes include kids not getting enough physical activity and spending too much time watching TV and playing video games. Many kids also get too many calories from juice, fruit drinks, and soda, and eat a lot of fast food, unhealthy meals, and oversized portions.

Of course, it isn't easy, especially if the parents themselves are overweight. However, teaching our children to make healthier choices—especially as they go off to school and become more independent—is essential if we want them to be healthy and avoid the health consequences of being overweight.

What You Need to Know About Your Six-Year-Old

  • Encourage your child to be curious, explore, and take on new challenges.
  • This is a good age to start some chores and an allowance.
  • Teach stranger awareness.
  • Once your child reaches the weight and height limits of their car seat, move to a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • At the 6-year-old check-up, your child's doctor will continue to monitor her overall health with a complete physical exam. She may also receive the Varivax booster if she hasn't had chickenpox and hasn't had it already. It's also time to catch up on any other shots she is missing. A screening vision test and hearing test are also likely.

Common School Age Problems

Continue to monitor your child for common concerns like ADHD, allergies, and asthma. You might also notice symptoms of growing pains continue as well as constipation, which may lead to encopresisFrequent nosebleeds may also become an issue.

At this age, it is not uncommon for a child to continue bedwetting or have night terrors, either

16
Seven- to Eight-Year-Olds

An eight-year-old school girl.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery An eight-year-old school girl. Photo (c) Debi Bishop

  • The middle years are a time of great change in your child. In addition to perhaps starting puberty, her mind will grow to understand logical and abstract thinking. She will also develop the moral standards by which she will live her life.

You can expect your child to begin to move away from her family a little as she develops her own identity and also becomes more influenced by her friends. Fortunately, this influence is usually limited to outward things like hair and clothing styles.

Childhood obesity is often a problem at this age. Many kids get too many calories from what they drink. How much should your kids be drinking? Keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that 8-year-olds get about 3 servings of low-fat milk and only 8 to 12 ounces of 100 percent pasteurized fruit juice a day.

Anything else your child is drinking should be limited to water most of the time. However, you might make an exception for a sport's drink, like Gatorade, after heavy exercise.

What You Need to Know About Your Seven- to Eight-Year-Old

  • Encourage self-esteem and a positive self-image in your child.
  • Teach stranger awareness.
  • According the latest car seat guidelines, children should sit in a belt-positioning booster seat when they reach the weight and height harness strap limits of their forward-facing car seat. The move to regular seat belts should not occur until kids are "old enough and large enough" for the seat belts to protect them properly. This usually isn't until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall (57 inches) and are between 8 and 12 years old.
  • At the 7- to 8-year-old checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam and a review of her nutrition and sleep schedules. Your child will also receive his Varivax booster for chickenpox if she hasn't had it already, and any other shots she is missing. Vision and hearing tests are also likely.

Common School Age Problems

In addition to the childhood health concerns mentioned for earlier ages, school performance problems may become an issue. If you have concerns, talk to your child's teacher and work with them to come up with a plan that you can help with at home.

17
Nine- to Ten-Year-Olds

A ten-year-old with braces.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A ten-year-old with braces. Photo (c) Shelly Perry

By nine to ten years, you should regularly talk to your child about the proper habits that can help him lead a healthy life.

These healthy habits include getting proper nutrition by eating three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, limiting high sugar and high-fat foods, eating fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. This includes 4 servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt to meet his calcium needs.

Regular exercise and adequate sleep (nine hours each night) are also important. Encourage him to participate in extracurricular activities at school and in the community.

It also is very important to begin communicating with your preteen child to help prevent him from picking up bad habits. This includes the important talks about the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs (including inhalants, especially aerosols and glue).

What You Need to Know About Your Nine- to Ten-Year-Old

  • Encourage self-esteem and a positive self-image in your child.
  • Teach stranger awareness.
  • Watch for the warning signs of drug use. This includes a sudden change in his behavior or personality, decreased performance in school, or changes in the friends he associates with.
  • At the 9- to 10-year-old checkup, you can expect a complete physical exam and any shots he is missing.

Common School Age Problems

These are the years that lead to the pre-teens and some kids may begin to develop acne as puberty nears. As they're carrying around more school books, you might also notice back pain from heavy backpacks. Keep an eye out for any issues at school as well

18
Eleven- to Twelve-Year-Olds

Preteen on a swing.
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery Preteen on a swing. Photo (c) Shelly Perry

The preteen years can be among the most challenging for parents and the most confusing for kids.

The middle to late school age years are a time of great change in your child's life. In addition to starting puberty, her mind will continue to explore new ways of thinking as her morals continue to develop.

Her independence remains a factor as her identity and the influence of her friends continues to change. This makes it important to talk to your child often to make sure that you are an even bigger influence in her life.

What You Need To Know About Your Preteen

  • Encourage self-esteem and a positive self-image in your child.
  • Continue to watch for the warning signs of drug use.
  • Supervise your child's use of computers, games, movies, and know what they have access to at their friend's homes.
  • At the 11- to 12-year-old checkup, you can expect the standard physical exam. Your child will also receive her immunizations, including Tdap, Menactra, and Gardasil (girls only), and any other shots she is missing

Common School Age Problems

19
Teenagers

A Fourteen-Year-Old Football Player
Ages and Stages Photo Gallery A Fourteen-Year-Old Football Player. Photo (c) Eileen Hart

Children, especially teens, often have stress in their lives. There are numerous causes, including the loss of a friend or loved one, a recent move, being teased or bullied, difficulties at home, or problems at school.

Childhood stress can lead to behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, headaches, drug use, and insomnia, among many other symptoms and medical problems. Other symptoms of stress can include mood swings or temper tantrums in a younger child, withdrawing from friends and family, and aggression.

Be on the watch for stress in your teen.

What You Need to Know About Teenagers

  • Encourage self-esteem and a positive self-image in your child.
  • Watch for the warning signs of drug use as their independence and the influence of friends make teens most susceptible to experimentation.
  • Supervise your child's use of computers, games, movies, and know what they have access to at their friend's homes.
  • At the teen checkups each year, you can expect a complete physical exam and any immunizations they have yet to receive.

Common Teenage Health Problems

Teenagers are a varied age group and each of your children will have different concerns. It's important to work with your teen's doctors, school, and other influential people in her life to help her get through the changes and challenges she experiences. Some will be physical and others emotional or mental issues, but it's most important to keep communication open.

Source:

American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics. 2012;129(3):e827-41. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3552.

American Academy of Pediatrics. Pacifier Safety. HealthyChildren.org. 2015.

American Academy of Pediatric and Pediatric Endocrine Society. Vitamin D Deficiency and Rickets. 2015.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Obesity Facts. U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources. 2015.

Continue Reading