Chapter 2, Child Growth and Development

The following information describes normal growth and development and ways to encourage development in children. It is helpful to know about normal child growth and development so that you can:

  • Create a safe and stimulating environment for children.
  • Recognize children who are not developing as they should.

Growth refers to the body getting larger in size and development to the body becoming more skilled or mature.

The two main factors that affect children’s growth (height and weight) are:

  • Parents – Children inherit growth characteristics. For example, tall parents tend to have taller children, and short parents have shorter children.
  • Environment (living conditions) – The most important environmental factor affecting growth is good nutrition (eating a balanced diet).

Development occurs in the following areas: (aligned with Bright Futures)

  • Gross motor skills – the overall tone, strength and coordination of a child; how well a child is able to roll, sit and walk.
  • Fine motor skills – hand-eye coordination and the ability of a child to grab and release small objects.
  • Cognitive, linguistic and communication skills – how a child receives the information, thinks and expresses it.
  • Social and emotional skills – how a child learns to see himself/herself as a loved, loving, able, unique human being, and how a child knows what is expected and how to act in his/her culture or society.

Since rates of growth and development vary in each child, use the following information as a general guide. If you think a child is not growing or developing as he/she should, discuss your concerns with the parents.

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