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Infancy and Toddlerhood Factsheet

Infants and toddlers have many physical developments and milestones that they accomplish
during these vital months and years. During infancy the newborn is beginning to learn of their
reflexes so they are grasping, blinking, sucking, and swallowing. As they get older they begin to
coordinate their eyes and try to focus. They begin to hold their head up and soon start crawling
(University of Pittsburg Office of Child Development, n.d.). Toddler physical milestones consist
of throwing and kicking a ball, jumping, and climbing. By this age children are moving around
consistently and are able to run and squat also (Center for Disease Control and Prevention,
2016). A sign of atypical physical development in infants is difficulty swallowing or delays in
rolling over and sitting up. Signs of atypical physical development in toddlers are delays in
walking, use of upper extremities, and limp body posture. Social and cultural factors influence
physical development. Parental interaction between the infant or toddler can have a positive or
negative affect on them. Having the child in a positive environment where they have space and
opportunity to move, crawl, and walk can help with development. Some things that parents can
do to try to help their child in this area of development is tummy time with their infant which
helps with building muscles in the upper and lower body. Also, parents can use different
exercises with their toddler that helps with body control and build muscle such as bicycles
(movement of the legs in bicycle motions) and lightly weighted toys.

Language development milestones for infants include crying, babbling, and turning in the
direction of a familiar voice. For toddlers language development milestones are communicating
through gestures, imitating different speech sounds, and responding to requests (National
Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2017). Signs of atypical language
development in infants are not responding to sounds, not making any sounds (crying), and not
making gestures to communicate. Atypical signs for toddlers are comprehension problems, non-
verbal, and non-responsive to name being called. Parents can use developmentally appropriate
toys and books with their children to encourage communication (McLaughin, 2011). Another
play-based activity can be peek-a-boo where the parent is interacting with the child, hiding their
face behind their hand and saying peek-a-boo.
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Cognitive development milestones for infants are moving their heads toward different colors or
changes in light. They also discovering their environment by putting things in their mouths, and
reach towards thigs that make noise. Toddler milestones are able to point to one body part, can
follow one-step verbal commands, and scribble (Center for Disease Control and Prevention,
2016). The signs for atypical development in infants are not being able to follow a moving object
or not being able to recognize familiar objects and people. For toddlers atypical development is
not being able to problem solve, being unaware of his/her environment, and not being able to
imitate from memory. Social and cultural factors that can influence development are stressful
environments or situations. When children are in these environments it can cause toxic early life
stress. Strategies that families can use to influence their childs learning is simple games that
helps with memory and promotes problem solving such as puzzles and matching games. Another
strategy is taking them on relaxing nature walks in a proactive environment. Seeing, smelling,
and feeling natural things from outdoors stimulates the senses and enhances cognitive

There are social-emotional milestones that infants and toddlers achieve and two of those
achievements are learning how to get their needs and wants met and how to regulate their
emotions. Infants learn that when they cry (since they are nonverbal) their caregiver will try to
make sure their needs are taken care of in a timely manner. Toddlers begin to learn about their
emotions they may cry, smile, laugh, and talk to express themselves. Signs of atypical social-
emotional development in infants are non-responsive infants that do not cry when they have
needs but rather wait until the caregiver gives them what they need. Signs of toddler atypical
social-emotional development are withdrawn children. Some may always want to be alone,
others may have anxiety or low self-esteem. There are social and cultural factors that can
influence social-emotional milestones such as time spent with children and the interactions that
occur between the parents and the child. Theorist Lev Vygotsky said that adults share their
cultural values and beliefs with children through daily interactions (Berk, 2013). Strategies that
parents can use at home to assist in the childs learning and development are model caring
behaviors and empathy during all interactions and make a book about emotions and read the
book to the child so that they can get a better understanding of emotions.

During infancy and toddlerhood there are moral reasoning and self-regulation milestones.
Children may increase behavioral regulation such as using a toy for comfort when uncomfortable
or upset. Toddlers listen to parents when telling them to do the right thing such as sit down in
the chair rather than stand up. One social factor that can influence moral reasoning is the childs
environment. When children are in a negative or stressful environment it influences their
behavior, and can affect their moral reasoning in a negative way. Cultural factors such as a
parents views on honesty, integrity, and justice can influence the childs moral reasoning.
Strategies that parents can use at home is promoting prosocial behavior such as treating people
fairly (sharing). Parents can also model using appropriate positive words and gestures (soft
touches) as opposed to pushing or shoving.

Berk, L. E. (2013). Child Development (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016 August 18). Developmental milestones.
Retrieved from
McLaughlin, M. (2011 May 15). Speech and language delay in children. American Family
Physician, 83(10), 1183-1188.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2017). Speech and
language developmental milestones. NIH Publication. Retrieved from
University of Pittsburg Office of Child Development. (n.d.). Developmental milestones birth to
12 months. Retrieved from