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Parenting -- Child development: the first five years (2)

Other things that shape child development

Your child’s genes and other factors like healthy eating, physical activity, health and the neighbourhood you live in also influence your child’s development and wellbeing.

Healthy eating Healthy food gives your child the energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop. It also helps develop their sense of taste. Healthy family food and eating patterns in the early years can set up healthy eating habits for life.

Physical activity Being physically active is vital to your child’s health. It gets your child moving, develops motor skills, helps your child think and gives your child an opportunity to explore their world. So your child needs plenty of opportunities for active play, both inside and outside.

Health Minor childhood illnesses like colds, ear aches and gastroenteritis generally won’t have any long-term effects on development. But disability, developmental delay and chronic or long-term conditions can affect development. Health and disability professionals can help you understand your child’s condition and how it affects development.

Neighbourhood and local community Your child’s development is supported by positive relationships with friends and neighbours, and access to playgrounds, parks, shops and local services like child care, playgroups, kindergartens, schools, health centres and librarie

Child development: differences among children

In general, development happens in the same order in most children, but skills might develop at different ages or times. For example, children usually learn to stand, and then they learn to walk. But this development can happen any time between 8 and 18 months.

So if you’re wondering whether your child’s development is on track, just remember that development happens over time. Differences among children are usually nothing to worry about.

* If you really feel that something isn’t quite right with your child’s development, trust your instinct. See your child and family health nurse, GP or paediatrician.

Being a parent

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, kinship carer or foster parent raising a child, you’re always learning. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know something and ask questions or get help.

When you’re focusing on looking after a baby or child, you might forget or run out of time to look after yourself. Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally will help your child grow and thrive.

Ref: Ridley, M. (2004). Nature via nurture: Genes, experience and what makes us human. New York: HarperCollins.

Roggman, L.A., Boyce, L.K., & Innocenti, M.S. (2008). Developmental parenting: A guide for early childhood practitioners. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Co.

Sharma, A., & Cockerill, H. (2014). Mary Sheridan’s from birth to five years: Children’s developmental progress (4th edn). London: Routledge.

Shonkoff, J.P., & Phillips, D.A. (2000). From neurons to neighbourhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington: National Academy Press.

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