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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Characteristics of Infants, Toddlers, and Twos Children from birth to age three typically exhibit a series of developmental mile- stones. Because each of them grows at a different pace, you’ll see children who mas- ter skills much earlier or later than others. One child may walk at twelve months, while another is just starting to do so at fourteen months. Knowing the develop- mental characteristics of very young children is essential so you can help meet their needs through meaningful play and other activities. High-quality ECE offers learning opportunities to all children with few restric- tions. In the least-restrictive environment, children can participate in all activities and use all materials and indoor and outdoor spaces. Such an environment offers children developmentally appropriate learning opportunities. Doing so is particu- larly important because early intervention is critical to early brain development. Children with developmental delays need chances to reach their developmental milestones. (I discuss the importance of early interventions further in chapters 4 and 5.) You know that children reach their developmental milestones at different rates. Some move easily along the continuum in a textbook-like progression. Others move more slowly toward mastery, while still others experience developmental delays that require special intervention. For example, one infant might begin cooing sounds like aaaaaaa, ooooooo, and eeeeeee and begin gurgling at three months. Another child might make babbling sounds like dada and gaga at four months. Because such a wide range of mastery exists, early childhood professionals define the ages and stages for children from birth to age three in various ways. In this book, I identify children as young infants (birth to six months), older infants (six to twelve months), young toddlers (twelve to twenty-four months), and older toddlers/twos (twenty-four to thirty-six months). Certain developmental characteristics within these age ranges are common: Characteristics of Children from Birth to Age Three Age Young infant: Birth to six months 14 Characteristics • Vocalizes, including cooing, babbling, gurgling, and laughing • Smiles and imitates adults’ facial expressions • Raises chest and head while lying on stomach • Reaches for hanging objects with hands • Watches faces and follows moving objects Chapter 1 • Turns head toward sounds • Shows social smiles directed to other people • Laughs and smiles in response to active stimulation • Enjoys social play and shows a special relationship with caregivers • Grasps and shakes hand toys • Explores books with mouth and hands COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL