What Is Physical Development in Early Childhood?

    Physical Development in Early Childhood

    In this article you will find the answer to the question “What is physical development in early childhood?” As well as you will learn about the main stages of physical development, that, in infancy, is mainly associated with mastering body, postures, movements.

    So, physical development is the process of changing forms and functions of the human body under the influence of life and upbringing conditions.

    In the narrow sense of the word, physical development means anthropometric measures (height, weight, circumference and volume of the chest, foot size, etc.).

    A newborn baby is not able to regulate his movements, he is not even able to hold his head upright. A newborn usually sleeps in the position of the embryo: bent and pressed legs and arms against his tummy. While being awake his limbs move involuntarily.

    You can cause some his innate reflex actions. Until recently it was believed that innate reflexes are the signs of an atavism, that will soon die off. But nowadays scientists have found that if you support and train these reflexes, the child can start moving around (crawling, walking) much earlier. This is particularly important for children with musculoskeletal system disorders. The earlier you start training it, the more successful the defect will be overcome.

    And of course babies, whose parents train their movements, develop faster than those who lie swaddled in the crib most of the time.

    Babies also feel freer in the water than in the crib. But if you beware of teaching your baby to swim, bathe him every day and not just because of hygiene, but also to develop his movements. Moreover, let your baby lie naked, put him on a surface, but not go away if he lies on the swaddling table. He can crawl a sufficient distance to fall down. From the very first days of his life, do gymnastics and massage but having consulted an expert first.

    Try to let your baby spend time in the crib dressed in a romper suit and not swaddled in nappies, this also contributes to an earlier and successful mastery of movements.

    Now let’s consider the baby’ physical development month by month

    1 month

    By the end of the first month, a baby can hold his head upright.
    In response to stimulation he performs reflex movements of arms and legs.

    2 months

    Baby’s voluntary movements start developing.

    Can already lift his head in a prone and supine positions.

    Turns the head towards the source of sound and light.

    The hand movements are activated; the baby can bring them to his mouth.

    3 months

    Baby’s hand-eye coordination begins to develop: he controls the movement of the hand toward an object with his eyes.

    4 months

    The baby raises his head in a supine position.

    When supported in an upright position, he firmly rests against the surface with his feet.

    Rolls over freely from back to tummy.

    When lying in a prone position, the baby rises resting against the palms and keeps his eyes on the moving objects.

    Grabs and holds small objects in his hands, plays with the toys hanging over the crib or stroller, takes them into his hands, touches and pulls them into his mouth.

    5 months

    The baby can sit with the support of the adult.

    When supported under the arms, he stands on the straight legs.

    Tries to roll over from the tummy to the back.

    Holds the grasped objects for a long time.

    He knows his mother well and does not go to the hands of strangers.

    Distinguishes the tone of the voice used for educational purposes.

    Does not understand the words, but understands their meaning by the tone.

    Makes his first attempts to crawl (but remember that every baby is unique, there are cases when babies started crawling at 3 months of age).

    6 months

    The baby’s main achievements are considered to be the first attempts to sit up, but back muscles are not yet strong enough to keep the body, so the baby rests against his hands thus trying to remain in a sitting position.

    When lying on his tummy, the baby can lift his body up with the help of straightened arms leaning against his hands.

    When being intrigued by any object, he takes it in his hands.

    Arch of the feet start developing: the baby stands on the full feet more often and bounces in one place with great pleasure. It is therefore necessary to maintain the baby under the armpits.

    7 months

    The baby stands on all fours, crawls forward and backward freely.

    Sits confidently without any support, straightens his body.

    He reaches for his reflection in the mirror, looks around and finds large objects when asked.

    Starts banging with a toy on everything he sees around.

    Often throws a toy intentionally to watch it falling down.

    With each passing day he becomes more agile, owns his body more confidently.

    8 months

    Baby gets up and sits down while holding the crib.

    Tries to clap.

    Tries to walk when supported by arms.

    His facial expressions become diverse: interest and surprise appear when he sees a new toy or unfamiliar faces.

    Looks for a necessary object and persistently tries to reach it.

    Plays with the toys much time: examines them, taps one against another, tries to throw them down, etc.

    9 months

    Tries to stand without support.

    Walks independently while holding a support, stands up out of any position.

    When crawling along a flat surface, he gets on the pillows, cushions, etc.

    Performs quite complex actions: manipulates the building blocks, collects small items, performs a simple request: “Give me a hand”, “Wave with the hand“, “Wave goodbye”, etc.

    Prefers to play with the toys in a sitting position.

    Looks for a fallen or hidden object, finds the things located in different places, remembers their names.

    Remembers his own name, turns his face to the person who is calling him.

    Understands the word “no”.

    Captures not only the tone, but also the meaning of individual words (“give”, “throw”, “take”, “go”, etc.).

    Distinguishes size, color and shape of the objects.

    10 months

    The baby gets up by himself and stands without any support.

    He is able to walk holding a hand.

    Does not gives back the toy he likes.

    Imitates well the movements of adults.

    Begins to pronounce the simple words and utters separate syllables when talking about the animals and objects around him.

    11 months

    The baby already orients well himself in space (stands up, sits down, bends down, walks while holding a hand).

    He knows the names of many objects and shows a certain toy, parts of his body, etc.

    Performs many requirements, shakes his head when denying something.

    The coordination of his finger movements is significantly increased (firmly holds a toy, tears and scrunches the paper.)

    12 months

    The baby walks by himself already, comes when hearing his name.

    Sits down and stands up without being supported; can bend down to take an object.

    Gives a toy when asked to.

    Performs relatively complex tasks: opens a door, brings items and toys.

    He likes to watch the movements of people, animals, pulls hands to the moving objects, toys.

    You should remember that all children develop at their own pace and way. These terms can vary, some skills appear earlier or later. The main thing is that the amount of his skills and abilities increase all the time. If you do not notice the changes in motor behavior of your six month old baby within a month, you should consult your doctor then.

    Table of average anthropometric data (height, weight, circumference of head and chest) of babies from birth to one year of age.


    Body weight, gram

    Weight gain for a month, gram

    Height, cm

    Increase of height for a month, cm

    Circumference of the head, cm

    Circumference of the chest, cm

    1 month3700-410060054-55336-3735-36
    2 months4500-490080055-59338-3937-38
    3 months5200-560080060-622,540-4139-40
    4 months5900-630075062-652,541-4241-42
    5 months6500-680070064-68242-4343-44
    6 months7100-740065066-70243-4445-46
    7 months7600-810060068-72243,5-44,545,5-46,5
    8 months8100-850055069-74244-4546-47
    9 months8600-900050070-751,544,5-45,546,5-47,5
    10 months9100-950045071-761,545-4647-48
    11 months9500-1000040072-781,545,5-46,547,5-48,5
    12 months10000-1080035074-801,546-4748-49

    These data are average. Do not forget that all children are unique. And gain of weight and increase of height depend on many factors – on the initial height and weight, on the genetic predisposition, etc.

    How does or did your baby develop within his first year of life? What skills and abilities does or did he gain in a certain period of time? Was there something unusual in his behavior and movements? Share your experience with the rest of us!


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