Early Childhood Development

Early childhood development includes the development of reflexes, speaking, seeing and hearing skills, as well as the baby's socialization and motor skills. Developing a defense against harmful influences, such as pathogens, is one of the important development steps in the first years of life that are almost imperceptible to parents and babies from the outside. To do this, the baby gradually develops an immune system that can be supported by vaccinations. This topic is becoming more and more controversial. Also read about this: Should I have my baby vaccinated? Pros and cons of vaccination described independently

According to current scientific knowledge, breastfeeding can also be. positively influence the development of the child.
The following text is intended to provide an overview of the various stages of early childhood development.
However, it should always be noted that each child develops individually and learns or can implement certain things at different speeds.

Also read: Child development

Reflexes of the newborn

The newborn reflexes, which exist from birth and disappear after a certain number of months of life, are tested in the preventive examinations of newborns, the U2 examination between the 3rd and 10th day of life and the U3 between the 4th and 5th week of life.
The newborn's reflexes are innate and are also called Primitive reflexes designated. They use the baby for self-protection and lose themselves as soon as the baby learns to react to appropriate stimuli by itself. A lack of these reflexes, an asymmetrical appearance or a long persistence beyond certain months of life can indicate a neurological disorder in the baby. The verification by the pediatricians is therefore very important.

Read more about this under Reflexes of a baby

  • The Moro reflex (clasping reflex) is one of the reflexes of the newborn. If the child is unexpectedly placed on its back, as if falling backwards, it spreads its arms, spreads its fingers and opens its mouth. He then quickly brings his arms together again and clenches his hands into fists. This reflex disappears by the 4th month of life.
  • One reflex that parents often observe is the sucking reflex. When the lips are touched, the baby begins to suck, as if it were being applied to the breast or the bottle. This reflex lasts up to the first six months at the most.
  • There is also the step reflex. The baby is held under the armpits and held over a surface with their feet. If the feet touch the ground, the newborn will automatically move its legs as if to walk. This reflex persists for the first three months.
  • Other reflexes are the palmar and plantar grasping reflexes. When the palms of the hands or feet are touched, the fingers or the toes are gripped. The former exists up to the 4th month of life and the latter even up to the 15th month of life.
  • In the Babinski reflex, which physiologically can last up to the 12th month of life, the outer edge of the sole of the foot is coated, which means that the big toe is pulled back and the little toe is spread to the side. In adults with damage to a specific nerve conduction pathway in the spinal cord, the pyramidal tract, the Babinski reflex is a symptom of the disease.
  • With the Galant reflex, the skin next to the spine is moved downwards with the hand, while the baby is held up with the other hand lying on its stomach or simply lies on its stomach. Up to the 6th month of life there is a flexion of the spine in the direction of the stimulus.
  • When the baby lies on his back and the head is passively turned to one side, the arm and leg on the same side are stretched while the other side is bent. This is called the asymmetrical-tonic neck reflex, which also lasts up to 6 months of age. The baby looks like it is in a fencing position. When the head is bent, on the other hand, both arms are bent and both legs are stretched or the movements are reversed when the head is stretched. The reflex is therefore called the symmetrical-tonic neck reflex and again lasts until the 6th month of life.
  • With the Landau reflex, the baby is brought into a floating position on the stomach. It stretches its legs and lifts its head. This can be observed from the 4th to the 18th month of life.
  • The last reflex in the newborn, which is present up to the 5th month of life, is the so-called Readiness to jump to call. If the child is tilted forward, it stretches its arms forward.

Visual perception

Immediately after birth: the baby's eyes are usually still stuck together. However, the baby can already distinguish between light and dark. Even close outlines and movements can be recognized. The Overall, vision is still blurred. Even if the child is not able to see properly, the child will notice different smells at an early stage to compensate. In the early days it is mainly the mother's breast that finds it. Newborns are able Fixing light or faces.

1st month of life: Objects can also be slowly fixed. In the first two months of life it often happens that the Infants squint. This shouldn't lead to uncertainty, but is quite normal, as the baby cannot yet control the eye movements properly.

2nd month of life: Now it begins To be able to distinguish faces from one another and to follow objects with your eyes.

4th month of life: At the end of this month, babies can fix objects and faces at a great distance and also learn to estimate distances. The eye movements are now more controlled and the squinting gradually disappears.

5th month of life: From now on, a baby sees about as well as an adult. However, it still mainly uses its mouth to discover its surroundings.

6th month of life: From now on the baby will have one three-dimensional impression of the world. The understanding and the coordination are now so far that the infant can specifically reach for objects.

Acoustic perception

The unborn perceives voices, noises or music already in the womb and reacts to it. After the birth, he is familiar with the mother's voice.
Between the third and 10th day of life A hearing screening as part of the U2 child screening carried out. If this should be conspicuous and one Hearing loss in child If it is established, hearing aids are provided as early as possible, as hearing is essential for learning the language.
In the second month of life, hearing is not yet fully developed. It still perceives noises and can turn them around or make sounds by himself.
In the fourth month it can better differentiate the directions from which the noises come from each other.
At the end of the 5th month of life the baby ultimately hears just as well as adults.

Development of gross and fine motor skills

The newborn can already turn its head.However, this movement is rather uncontrolled. This uncontrolled head rotation gradually turns into a controlled head movement at the age of 3 months. In the upright position, the baby can even hold its head for a short time and, in the prone position, lift it up a little. In this phase of life, these movements are still accompanied by a great deal of physical exertion, as the muscles are not yet strong enough.
At the end of the second month of life, the baby can increasingly open its hands because the innate grasping reflex disappears. This also makes it possible to consciously grab and hold onto objects.
At the age of three months, the baby slowly learns to lean on his forearms in the prone position and look around. In the supine position, it tries to reach for all sorts of things that come into view. These targeted grasping movements are further developed and improved in the 4th month of life until they are finally perfected in the 6th month of life.
From the 4th month of life, the baby shows more and more the effort to stand with help. Since the leg muscles are not yet strong enough, it kinks again and again. In the 5th month, the baby becomes more and more flexible and likes to grip its own feet and can even put them in its mouth. Some babies rock back and forth in this position. Sometimes you can turn from stomach to back or vice versa during this time. The head can now be held independently and for a long time.
Please also read: When do babies turn?

At the age of 6 months, the baby tries to pull itself up on its parents or on furniture. Turning from stomach to back and back to stomach is no longer a problem. From the seventh month in particular, the muscles are strong enough that the baby can sit and even stand for a short time without support. The baby particularly enjoys jumping while holding onto the parents' arms. Sealing is also possible at seven months.
By the 9th month at the latest, most babies can sit, crawl, pull themselves up to stand and stand with support. During this time, fine motor skills have been developed in such a way that a pair of tweezers and such precise gripping of small objects is possible. Throwing objects is also practiced. In the further course, the free standing follows without assistance.

Please also read our topic on this Development in the baby, when does a baby crawl? - you should know that!

That will follow in the 12th month Going a few steps and the Climbing stairs. At 15 months, walking freely is no longer a problem. Walking is increasingly safer by the age of two.
In the third year of life, skills like Tricycle riding and building blocks added. At the age of four, stairs are mastered without danger and by the age of five the child can hop on one leg. Here would be problems walking, such as a Tiptoe in the child, observed in around 5% of all preschool children.

Read more on the subject at: When does my child start to walk?

Language acquisition

1st month of life: Here the baby can only make sighing noises.

2nd month of life: In this month the baby starts to utter spontaneous vowels like "uhhh" or "ahhh".

6th month of life: From now on it uses these vowels to react to stimuli or speech.

9th - 13th month of life: Only now does the baby try to imitate speech sounds made by adults. The communication between child and parents is trained further and further.

15th month of life: from around this point in time the baby utters the first, long-awaited word. Usually these are words like "Mama", "Papa" or "Wauwau". It also reacts to very simple requests such as "Come", "Give" or "Take". It also understands the meanings of “yes” and “no”. Some objects and their names can also be assigned, such as "bottle" or "car". From this time on, the baby will gradually begin to speak more.

2nd year of life: The vocabulary extends to at least 20 words and combinations of 2 words can also be formed.

3rd - 5th year of life: From now on the child can give his own first and last name. The use of singular and plural different words is also learned during this time. At the age of 4 the child can already talk about experiences and has greatly expanded his vocabulary. In the 5th year of life the children speak almost perfectly.

For more detailed information, also read the article: Development in the toddler


The interaction between mother and child or the environment and the child develops just like the other levels of early child development, gradually.
In the first month, the baby's contact with the environment consists of smiling back. In the first four to six weeks of life, this creates a social smile. The baby then reacts to being looked at or spoken to in a friendly manner. The baby smiles back in response. The joy is then usually expressed together with the kicking of the legs.
In the third month of life, the baby not only smiles in response to others, but also very spontaneously. It becomes more and more interested in everything that is going on around it. This is shown by looking around curiously and turning to noises. Communication with the environment is increasingly achieved through sounds.
By the fourth month at the latest, it becomes clear that the baby is now expressing its joy or dislike through changes in facial expressions. At this age it also recognizes its caregivers and extends its arms to them. This bond with the parents becomes stronger and stronger in the 5th month of life. When it feels alone, it starts to cry and seeks closeness to the caregivers. On the other hand, the reluctance towards strangers is becoming more and more concrete.

Read more on the topic: Strangers in the baby
At six months, babies are able to interpret and empathize with other people's feelings. The child's emotional development runs at full speed. In the seventh month of life, the baby understands the connection between an action performed and the subsequent result. If, for example, a rattle is shaken, this creates a noise. In the ninth month of life, most babies begin to be strangers to strangers. They then like to hide in their parents' arms. The baby can also express his likes and dislikes better and better.
At the age of 15 months, the child manages to use a spoon and to participate more and more in the daily meal. At the age of two, children can wash their hands on their own. Playing with other children begins at the age of three. In the 4th year of life follow the popular "Why?" - questions with which the children want to understand their world better. By the age of 5 at the latest, the children want to and can dress themselves independently. Many children want their own during this time Pick out items of clothing - they shouldn't be slowed down in them. All of these things are part of the process of self-reliance.

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