Child development

The acquisition of physical, mental, and social skills in children. Although there is wide variation in individual rates of progress, most children develop certain skills within predictable age ranges. For example, most infants start to walk at 12–18 months. Capability for new skills is linked to the maturity of the child’s nervous system. Individual rates of maturity are determined genetically and modified by environmental factors in the uterus and after birth. Development is assessed in early childhood by looking at abilities in 4 main areas: locomotion; hearing and speech; vision and fine movement; and social behaviour and play. (See also developmental delay.)


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