The Development of Children: The First Two Years

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Parents and caregivers should begin taking an active role in their child's development from infancy.

In the first three months, you are encouraged to:

  • Talk to your baby while you hold, feed or play with him or her.

  • Let baby look at and become familiarized with your face.

  • Respond to the baby's gestures, faces and sounds.

  • Give your infant colorful objects to look at, including books and pictures.

When your baby is four to seven months, you are encouraged to:

  • Talk face-to-face with baby and copy his or her sounds and expressions.

  • Read books and listen to music with your baby.

  • Appreciate your child's increased ability to communicate emotions and desires.

  • Notice baby's interest in the world and his or her growing attachments.

  • Give your child toys to play with that stimulate hand-eye coordination.

Parents and caregivers of children eight to twelve months are encouraged to:

  • Provide a safe place for the baby to explore the world around him or her.

  • Play peek-a-boo and patty cake.

  • Teach baby to wave "bye bye" and to shake his or her head "yes" or "no."

  • Continue reading together on a daily basis.

When you child reaches the age of one year old, you should:

  • Be encouraging and supportive, while setting appropriate limits.

  • Be consistent: Establish routines for meals, naps and bedtime.

  • Make time to play with your child daily.

  • Speak slowly and simply, name objects and give your child time to respond.

  • Give your child choices.

  • Listen to and answer questions.

  • Read rhymes and stories.

  • Sing and listen to music together.

  • Choose books that are durable, with pictures to point to and name.

  • Choose toys that encourage creativity, including blocks and animals.

Parents of two-year-olds are encouraged to:

  • Offer simple choices, like which book to read together, throughout the day.

  • Create ways for your child to play with other children and have out-of-home social experiences.

  • Encourage drawing, building and creative play.

  • Introduce simple musical instruments.

  • Spend one-on-one time together daily.

  • Acknowledge desirable behavior often. For example, "I like it when you play so well together with other children."