Healthy living

Child development

What is development?

The learning processes your child goes through as they grow and become an adult is called development. Skills are learnt and then combined to develop more complex tasks such as walking, talking and playing.

Most children reach specific milestones at around similar ages, and this is called ‘normal development’.

What are the main areas of development?

There are 5 key areas of development:

  • gross motor skills, for example crawling, jumping or running
  • fine motor skills, such as writing and drawing
  • speech and language
  • cognitive and intellectual, such as counting or identifying shapes
  • social and emotional skills, such as playing with other children.

Why are the early years so important?

There is much evidence to support the importance of your child’s early development to their health and wellbeing throughout later life.

Children experience the greatest rate of development during their early years and the first 5 years of life are a critically important time in brain development. While connections in the brain are made throughout life, the rapid pace at which our brains develop in these first 5 years is never repeated.

What is developmental delay?

The term developmental delay describes a child whose skills and abilities in one or more areas are delayed compared with other children of the same age.

Developmental delays can reduce a child’s ability to communicate, learn, be mobile, live independently, make decisions and care for themselves.

Why is early intervention so important?

Recognising developmental delays early in your child’s life can give your child the opportunities and support to develop new skills.

Research suggests the quality of nurturing and support provided in the early years influences a child’s ability to learn, their behaviour, their ability to control emotions and their risks for disease later in life.

More information

Local community, school or child health nurse

  • See inside your baby's purple All About Me book
  • Look in the service finder for child health centres
  • Visit your nearest child health centre

Local family doctor

Ngala Parenting Line 

  • 8.00am – 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Phone: (08) 9368 9368
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

Raising Children Network



Child and Adolescent Health Service – Community Health (CAHS CH)

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.