Ages & Stages

Surprised young boy and giggling younger girl looking at books.

About the First Five Years

Each child has a unique set of needs, depending upon their age, learning style and personality. The first five years for children are especially important for their physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development.

See below for insights into a child's developmental stages from birth through age 5.  

 

Wee Grow 

In collaboration with FIRST5 Santa Clara County, SJPL is offering optional developmental screening questionnaires for children between 2 months and 5 years old during our Storytimes at the Berryessa and Educational Park Branch libraries. Following the regular Storytime program, families will have the opportunity to speak with FIRST5 staff to learn more about the Ages & Stages Developmental Questionnaire (ASQ) and learn more about their child’s development. The ASQ can help identify your child’s strengths as well as any areas (speech, physical ability, social skills, problem-solving skills, social-emotional development) where your child may need support.

See Berryessa Branch Storytimes

See Educational Park Branch Storytimes

Developmental Milestones for Children 

Each child is unique and develops at his/her own pace. The developmental information below is intended to be a general guideline.

0 to 3 Months 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Supports head and upper body when on stomach
  • Stretches out legs & kick when on stomach or back
  • Opens and shut hands
  • Brings hands to mouth
  • Grabs and shakes hand toys
  • Swipes and bats at dangling objects
  • Follows moving objects with eyes
  • Turning their head to face the stimulus

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Smiles at familiar faces
  • Enjoys games with other people
  • Quiets or smiles in response to sound or voice
  • Makes eye contact
  • Able to calm with rocking, touching, and gentle sounds

Language Development 

  • Makes cooing noises
  • Begin to babble and imitate sounds
  • Turns head towards sound or voice
  • Shows interest in faces
  • Cries differently for different needs (e.g. hungry vs. tired)

Cognitive Development 

  • While lying on back, attempts to reach for a toy held above their chest
  • While lying on back, visually tracks a moving toy from side to side
  • While lying on back, keeps head centered to watch faces or toys
  • Enjoys a variety of movements

3 to 6 Months 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Rolls over both ways
  • Sits up with, and then without, support of his hands
  • Transfers objects from hand to hand
  • Supports whole weight when on legs and held upright
  • Explores objects with hands and mouth
  • Explores objects by banging and shaking

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Can distinguish emotion by tone of voice
  • Forms attachment to one primary caregiver
  • Generally happy when not hungry or tired
  • Enjoys a variety of movements
  • Is not upset by everyday sounds

Language Development 

  • Cries to communicate needs
  • Listens and responds when spoken to
  • Begins to use consonant sounds in babbling, e.g. “da, da, da”
  • Uses babbling to get attention
  • Makes different kinds of sounds to express feelings

Cognitive Development 

  • Reacts to sudden noises or sounds
  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Uses both hands to explore toys
  • Brings hands and objects to mouth
  • Able to calm with rocking, touching, and gentle sounds

6 to 9 Months 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Sits without support
  • Sits and reaches for toys without falling
  • Moves from tummy or back into sitting
  • Starts to move with alternate leg and arm movement e.g. creeping, crawling
  • Picks up head and pushes through elbows during Tummy Time
  • Turns head to visually track objects while sitting
  • Shows more control while rolling and sitting
  • Picks up small objects with thumbs and fingers

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Raises hands towards adult to be picked up
  • Maintains eye contact with people during playful interaction
  • Enjoys moving to explore the environment when placed on floor
  • Enjoys various types of movement, such as being gently swung in the air by parents
  • Is interested in interacting with others (such as peek a boo)

Language Development 

  • Uses increased variety of sounds and syllable combinations in babbling
  • Looks at familiar objects and people when named
  • Recognizes sound of name
  • Participates in two-way communication
  • Follows some routine commands when paired with gestures
  • Shows recognition of commonly used words
  • Uses simple gestures, e.g. shaking head for “no”
  • Imitates sounds

Cognitive Development 

  • Enjoys a variety of movements – bouncing up and down, rocking back and forth
  • Explores and examines an object using both hands and mouth
  • Turns several pages of a chunky (board) book at once
  • Experiments with the amount of force needed to pick up different objects
  • Focuses on objects near and far
  • Investigates shapes, sizes, and textures of toys and surroundings

9 to 12 Months 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Pulls to stand and cruises along furniture
  • Stands alone and takes several independent steps
  • Moves in and out of various positions to explore environment and get desired toys
  • Maintains balance in sitting when throwing objects
  • Claps hands
  • Uses thumb and pointer finger to pick up tiny objects

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Begins using hand movements to communicate wants and needs, e.g. reaches to be picked up
  • Responds to “no”
  • Points to objects of interest by 12 months
  • Frequently explores the environment when placed on floor

Language Development 

  • Meaningfully uses “mama” or “dada”
  • Responds to simple directions, e.g. “Come here”
  • Produces long strings of gibberish (jargoning) in social communication
  • Says one or two words - Imitates speech sounds
  • Babbling has sounds and rhythms of speech
  • Pays attention to where you are looking and pointing

Cognitive Development 

  • Enjoys listening to songs
  • Explores toys with hands, fingers, and mouth
  • Crawls to or away from objects baby sees in the distance

One Year Olds – 12 to 18 Months 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Enjoys clapping hands
  • Walks with assistance / Walks without assistance
  • Crawls up and down stairs
  • Stacks two objects
  • Pulls off socks and shoes
  • Scribbles without control

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Engages mostly in parallel play with peers
  • Begins to imitate siblings or peers

Language Development 

  • Uses gestures and actions intentionally
  • Intentionally says “mama” or “dada”
  • Speaks in jargon or nonsense phrases
  • Understands more words than can be expressed

Cognitive Development 

  • Closes doors
  • Follows simple commands
  • Turns pages in books

One Year Olds – 18 to 24 Months   

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Walks up and down stairs with help
  • Stands on one foot with help
  • Runs reasonably well
  • Throws a ball
  • Can feed self
  • May begin toilet training

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Initiates separation from adults
  • Plays with toddlers
  • Shows sense of trust
  • Checks in with home-base/significant adult

Language Development 

  • Says “hi” “bye” & “uh oh”
  • Begins to express feelings with words
  • Uses two to three word phrases

Cognitive Development 

  • Begins to recognize colors
  • Enjoys container play

Two Year Olds – 24 to 30 Months 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Runs with ease, stands on tip toes
  • Engages in exercise play (running, climbing, jumping)

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Shows independence in routine activities (dressing)
  • Has tantrums
  • Engages in parallel play

Language Development 

  • Shows interest in print & books
  • Shows ability to name words for objects of interest
  • Puts nouns and verbs together in simple sentences
  • Uses word “No”

Cognitive Development 

  • Pretends to read
  • Can do simple sorting
  • Recognizes names & colors, shows interest in shapes
  • Repeats simple nursery chants and rhymes
  • Sings parts of simple songs

Two Year Olds – 30 to 36 Months 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Has developed hand preference
  • Holds markers/crayons with ease
  • Stacks toys with ease
  • Shows interest in drawing and marking

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Can identify and talk about personal feelings
  • Can identify and talk about others’ feelings
  • Shows interest in helping
  • Can recite rules, but may not follow consistently

Language Development 

  • Echoes questions
  • Uses understandable speech
  • Uses loud and soft voice

Cognitive Development 

  • Can talk about books
  • Can tell own age, knows first & last name
  • Asks questions
  • Creates imaginary friends
  • Follows more complex commands from adults

Three Year Olds 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Swings arms when walking
  • Jumps with both feet, balances or hops on one foot
  • Builds and stacks with several small blocks
  • Copies & draws simple shapes
  • Can use scissors

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Shows independence
  • Engages in solitary play & parallel play
  • Begins to engage in associative play (joining with peers)
  • Begins to show perspective taking
  • Begins taking turns
  • Likes to be silly, make others laugh
  • Begins to understand some limits and rules

Language Development 

  • Speaks when spoken to
  • Tells stories without prompting
  • Enjoys rhymes & simple, repetitive songs
  • Likes to learn new words
  • Speaks in 3 or 4 word sentences (young 3)
  • Uses up to 7 words in sentences (older 3)
  • Enjoys books that have photographs of real things

Cognitive Development 

  • Can stay with the same activity for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Uses toys to symbolize real objects
  • Engages in fantasy play
  • Show interest in numbers & names of numbers
  • Uses words for time (yesterday, today)
  • Uses color names appropriately
  • Identifies and names body parts

Four Year Olds 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Runs with ease and stops quickly
  • Copies, prints, cuts and pastes with a paintbrush
  • Writes own name

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Engages primarily in associative play
  • Has an increasing attention span
  • Is developing patience
  • Is developing friendships
  • Uses words to solve problems

Language Development 

  • Speaks in 7 to 10 word sentences
  • Enjoys fingerplays & rhymes
  • Tells simple stories in sequence
  • Uses appropriate speech
  • Follows 3-step directions
  • Pronounces words and sounds correctly

Cognitive Development 

  • Begins to reason
  • Understands simple concept (age, number, weight, size, color, shape, distance)
  • Begins to sort or categorize, notices patterns
  • Counts objects out loud
  • Is interested in alphabet
  • Identifies colors

Five Year Olds 

Physical & Motor Development 

  • Balances well
  • Uses left or right hand with dominance
  • Jumps over objects eight to ten inches high without falling
  • Uses large muscles to run, skip, tumble

Social/Emotional Development 

  • Takes turns and shares more easily
  • Plays simple games with rules
  • Follows and makes simple rules
  • Often plays with peers
  • Shows strong emotions
  • Is self-directed

Language Development 

  • Speaks in 6 to 10 word sentences
  • Answers questions about familiar stories
  • Argues, reasons and uses because
  • Makes up stories
  • Has an expanding vocabulary
  • Asks lots of questions

Cognitive Development 

  • Counts twenty or more objects with accuracy
  • Uses measurement terms (long, heavy)
  • Matches objects with ease
  • Draws basic shapes and more
  • Expresses interest in creative movement