Development through the lifestages

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Development through the Life Stages



In this booklet I am going to describe the physical, intellectual, emotional and social development through the life stages. The life stages that I will be addressing are conception, pregnancy, birth and infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. I will also include a description of growth and development in relation to changes through the life stages, developmental norms and milestones, maturational and life expectancy.

Growth means an increase in measured quantities such as height or weight.

Development is complex changes including an increase in skills, abilities and capabilities such as talking, walking, writing and smiling.

Key terms

Maturation is when development is assumed to be due to a genetically programmed sequence of change.

Life course is a map of what is expected to happen at the various stages of the human lifestyle.

Life expectancy is an estimate of the number of years that a person can expect to live on average.

Developmental norms or developmental milestones are a description of an average set of expectations with respect to an infant or a child’s development.

Delayed development is when a child’s development lags behind the developmental norms or developmental milestones for his or her age.


Holistic development is the person’s PIES development as a whole. Development can be analysed under each of the individual categories to help identify issues but, in life, the categories interact

Life stages:         Infancy                         0-3 years old

Childhood                 4-9 years old

                        Adolescence                 10-18 years old

                        Adulthood                 18-65 years old

                        Older Adulthood         65+

Confidence is a belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.

Self confidence is belief in us and out abilities

Self esteem is a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth

Ageism is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups because of their age

Nature is the genetic and biological influences

Nurture is the social, economic and environmental influences

Human genome project is trying to map all the genes in a human body

Life stages

The human lifespan has been described in terms of life stages for centuries. The life stages are listed below. The age ranges of some life stages are defined by social criteria. However, the age ranges for certain stages can vary depending on the expert who is describing.

A brief outline of the life stages are:

Conception and Pregnancy 9 months before and leading up to the birth

I am not aware of the exact date that my granddad was conceived but he was born on the 6th July 1940 to his mother (Amy) and father (Leslie).

Human life begins with conception. A fertile woman usually produces one egg each month, roughly two weeks after their last menstrual period. The egg cell travels from the ovary along the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If sexual intercourse takes place while the egg is in the fallopian tube there is a chance of conception. Millions of sperm are ejaculated by a man during orgasm. Just one sperm may fertilise the egg. Fertilisation means that the genetic material in the egg to start a new life. Only about half of all fertilised eggs develop to become babies. Many eggs are lost without a woman knowing that fertilisation ever happened.

Pregnancy begins when a sperm penetrates an egg. One to one and a half days later, the single fertilised egg cell begins to divide. After two or three days there are enough new cells to make the fertilised egg the size of a pin head. This collection of cells travels to the lining of the uterus where it is anchored. The developing collection of cells is now called an embryo- it is attached to the wall of the uterus by a placenta. Once the embryo is attached to the uterus wall, a chemical signal stops the woman from having another menstrual period. After eight weeks, the embryo may have grown to between 3 to 4 centimetres, has a recognisable heartbeat and the beginnings of ears, eyes, mouth, legs and arms. At this stage the growing organism is called a foetus.

Birth and Infancy 0-3 years old


At about 9 months after conception the baby will be born. The newborn baby (or neonate) has to take easily digestible food such as mother’s milk in the first weeks in order to grow. A new born baby doesn’t have a fully developed brain but can usually hear sounds, tell differences in the way things taste, and identify the smell of their own mother or carer. Infants are born with various temporary and primitive reflexes.

The newborn baby kicks, stretches, moves the arms and turns the head. It would also cry when hungry, lonely, or in pain and the only way to comfort him is to hold it close and cuddle it close. At this stage it doesn’t play and has its hands closed with the thumbs in.

At 2 months the infant will be able to raise its head when lying on its stomach.

At 3 months the infant will smile with pleasure at people, also its hands open as it explores by playing with its fingers. It can lift its head because it is very interested in nearby objects, especially in faces. At this stage the infant gurgles and babbles, and holds ‘conversations’ with people.

At 4 months the infant will be able to grasp objects using its whole hand.

At 6 months the infant can sit with support, can play with rattles and bricks and can grasp toys and move them from one hand to another. It can and will make a great variety of sounds and practices them it will also laugh, chuckle, and squeal with delight when it gets attention.

At 8 to 9 months the infant will try to crawl because it will show an interest in things up to 4 meters away. It will drop things to the floor and play peek-a-boo. It will make the simple sounds “dad-dad”, “mum-mum” and “bab-bab”. It is shy with its fingers but will peek around them to look at people and objects.

At 1 the infant is beginning to walk without help, it points to things and will recognise people that it knows at a distance. It understands and uses the word no, while putting things into containers and tipping them out again, also it will say a few words with meaning for example “bye-bye”.

At 18 months the infant can climb stairs and run but will often fall over, push and pull wheeled toys, its eyes follow a rolling ball and it begins to understand simple instructions like “don’t touch”. It feeds itself and begins to show preference for right or left hand and is now ready for toilet-training.

At 2 the infant will go through the ‘NO’ stage where it will often say “no” when told to do something, and may have temper tantrums. It will climb onto furniture to look out of the window, will play near but not with other children, it can see as far as an adult can see now. It will hold a pencil and scribble while forming simple sentences of 2-3 words like “me draw too”. It is very active but will have little understanding of danger and it will ask questions such as “why?” it can jump with two feet together from a low step. It enjoys picture books and stories and can recognise tiny details in the pictures. It will begin to undress himself. It will have control over muscles which allow for toilet training. It can also kick a ball but will not be able to catch one yet.

At 3 years the infant will begin to recognise some colour like red and yellow, it will tell long ‘stories’ with lots of ‘make-believe’. It will now start to play with other children and understands sharing. It will use scissors and will talk all the time none stop. It will start to jump and will be able to ride a tricycle.


At one to 3 months the infant will begin to learn that when it cries something will happen and the mother will come, it also shows more response to noise, and can distinguish its own mother from anyone else.

At 3 to 6 months the infant is more curious about the world that it lives in and it starts to sense that his feet and hands are part of itself.

At 6 to 12 months the infant will seek out hidden objects, it wants to taste, touch and shake the objects that it finds and by doing this it can identify the toys and belongings that belong to it.

At 1 to 2 years old the infant likes to explore the world around it and it is curious and will get into everything. It wants to be independent and will sit for a short time and look at pictures in a book because the attention span increases. It understands more than it will be able to express, and will point to some body parts correctly. It likes to dump things out, tear paper apart, pull things over to see what happens, it likes to put things into a container and take them out again.

At 2 to 3 years its attention span will be about 10 minutes and it can use objects to represent other objects (it will pretend that blocks are cars). It recognises some colours and shapes, and likes to look at books where it can find the shapes. It will begin to count as its memory is developing; it has difficulty with abstract concepts such as ‘time’ and it will avoid simple hazards.

Emotional, Social and Language

Around 3 months infants begin to make babbling noises as they learn to control the muscles associates with speech.

Around 12 months infants begin in imitate sounds made by carers such as ‘da-da’; this develops into the use of single words, it may say simple words like ‘dog’ and ‘bye’ it may only use a fragment of a work as well.

Around 1 to 2 years the infant will begin to make two-word statements such as ‘cat goed’ (meaning the can has gone away). The infant begins to build their vocabulary which is their knowledge of words. The infant has a 5 to 20 word vocabulary like ‘no’ and ‘mine’ and are able to follow simple instructions. They also enjoy imitating animal sounds.

Around 3 years the child will begin to make simple sentences such as ‘I want drink’. This develops into the ability to ask questions, ‘When we go?’ Knowledge of words (vocabulary) grows very rapidly. At this stage the infant may have a stutter but that should go with time.

At 1 to 3 months the infant is helpless and is completely reliant on their caregiver, it has already experienced a range of emotions; happy, sad, serious and calm. It visually fixates on a face, responds to a face by smiling, especially its mum’s face. It can recognise its parents’ voices and may respond with a smile, it coos when it’s happy and cries when it’s frightened, hungry, tiered, in discomfort or pain.

At 3 to 6 months the infant can distinguish between familiar people and strangers, the infant wants to be near people, it protests separation from its mother and it responds to voices and faces it also enjoys being cuddles and it may be soothed by rocking it.

At 6 to 12 months the infant enjoys games of ‘peek-a-boo’, it respond to its own name, gives and takes objects, will fight for a toy that it wants and will imitate adult movement like waving ‘bye-bye’. It will yell for attention, it will show feeling like anger and will react to being left alone. It will now know the difference between an angry mother and a happy mother by the way they are talking to the infant.

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At 1 to 2 years the infant is very self centred and may be possessive of toys and that will lead to having a difficulty in sharing toys with others. The infant will play next to other but will not play with them this is known as parallel play, the child will often want to eat what others are eating and will often fly into rages known as temper tantrums. The infant will continuously ask for their parents because routines are very important to them. They have rapid mood shifts; emotions are usually intense but don’t last very long.


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