2Developmental Stages

Meet the kids! They guys will pop up throughout the course, to give you an idea of the different needs of children of different ages:

Let’s get a better understanding of the ages and stages of children’s development.


Little Ozzie is an adorable but challenging 10-month-old baby. He needs constant supervision as he requires help with nearly everything, except looking cute!

Ozzie looks up to his older siblings and learns by watching everything they do. He enjoys lots of cuddles, singing songs, eating and smiling.

As Ozzie’s au pair, you will need to meet the demands of a baby who needs to be fed, changed, entertained and, most importantly, kept safe and sound. Whether you are out and about or staying at home, it is crucial to be prepared when taking care of an infant or toddler.


Matilda is a friendly but cheeky 4-year old who attends the local kindergarten three mornings a week. Next year she will start school.

Matilda enjoys ballet, playing with her dolls and play dates with her best friend Millie.

As Matilda’s au pair, you will be there to help her grow into a “big girl”.  She is basically “toilet trained’ but needs a bit of a reminder at times and can dress and feed herself.

She is developing her physical strength and stability and is working on letter and number recognition.

Matilda still needs a lot of guidance when it comes to setting limits and understanding the consequences of her behavior.


Ben is a bright and active school-aged 8-year-old boy.  Like his peers, he spends a large part of his time in school learning reading, maths, playing sport and creating a bit of trouble for his teachers at times.

Ben likes sports and needs lots of active playtimes to burn up some of his endless energy.

As Ben’s au pair, you will see that he is more independent than his younger siblings as far as bathing, feeding, dressing, going to the toilet, etc. However, Ben still needs a lot of support in supervising activities and directing his behavior in positive ways.

A bit more about these developmental stages:

Infants – the first 12 months

The first year of a person’s life is perhaps the most critical.  Babies until the age of 12 months experience rapid physical growth as well as developing socially and emotionally by leaps and bounds. As an au pair for a baby, you should not take lightly the high level of needs that babies have.  They need interaction and communication just as older children do, in an age-appropriate manner.

In this course, you will learn about feeding, dressing, soothing, and communicating with babies. Most importantly, you need SAFETY to be your priority at all times.

Babies 0-12 months

Typically, during the first year of a baby’s life, they will develop the following abilities:

  • Make eye contact
  • Cooing and other verbal sounds
  • Smile
  • Strengthen neck and back muscles through so they can sit upright unassisted
  • Grasp and play with toys and objects
  • Put objects in or near their mouth
  • Track objects with their eyes
  • Enjoy interacting and being held by carers
  • Begin to transition from breast milk or formula to pureed and finger foods
  • Have longer period of awake time between feedings
  • Begin to teethe as first set of teeth come in

New_Teething_baby  Purple_Bonding with baby

 Throughout the course, instructional videos are used to help you learn more about a topic.  This video will show you a how to connect and communicate with a baby aged 0-6 months:


Video provided courtesy of The Raising Children Network

Toddler development

Somewhere around a year after being born, babies will become toddlers as they learn to walk.  Then the real fun begins! A new world of possibilities and also potential danger opens up as children become mobile.  As a carer for a toddler, you must be prepared to keep them occupied, happy and – most importantly – SAFE!

By the time a child is 12 months old, they will typically be able to do the following:

  • Pull up to standing position
  • Get into a sitting position
  • Cruise (move from place to place, always holding on)
  • Clap hands (play pat-a-cake) and wave bye-bye
  • Point to things they want
  • Babble with changes in tone and pitch of voice
  • Take turns ‘talking’ with you
  • Make eye contact
  • Smile and coo

This video will give you some great tips on how to connect and communicate with a 7-17-month-old:


Video provided courtesy of The Raising Children Network

By 18 months, toddlers can typically:

  • Walk
  • Use two or more words in a sentence
  • Drink from a cup
  • Feed themselves finger foods
  • Point to body parts
  • Turn the pages of a book
  • Identify different animals and the sounds they make

Between 18-36 months of age, toddlers become “little people”. They are busy learning and exploring language and how things work. As their carer, it is your job to communicate with them to help make sense of the world they are rapidly becoming a part of.

Here is a great video with tips of how to play and interact with toddlers.


Video provided courtesy of The Raising Children Network

Washing_Mach_cartoonThe terrible 2s and 3s!

Are not so terrible after all! Kids at this age can be overwhelmingly cute and entertaining as they begin to assert their independence by continuing to explore anything and everything they can get their hands on. They still need constant attention and supervision, as they are clumsy and often fall or knock objects over, but a trip to the zoo, or even just a walk down the street, offers toddlers a fascinating world to explore.  It is a privilege to explore it with them!

Two to three-year-olds can typically:

  • Speak in complete – though sometimes hard to understand – sentences
  • Drink from a cup
  • Use a fork and spoon
  • Call people by their names
  • Know their own name and use the pronoun “my”
  • Bounce and throw a ball
  • Run (fast! Watch out!)
  • Hold a crayon and scribble on paper
  • Sing along to nursery songs like “Twinkle Twinkle” “Wheels on the Bus” and “IncyWincy Spider”

Preschool-age child development

  • Play: Preschoolers aged 3-5 years old are just learning to understand other people’s needs or feelings.  Try to encourage children of this age to share and care with their peers.  Preschoolers tend to be more comfortable when familiar adults are around, but they are also starting to enjoy socializing with other children.
  • Physical Development: Preschoolers are becoming more coordinated as they learn to run, jump, skip, throw and catch.   They are also improving their balance and dexterity as they learn to draw and use their hands to for more detailed skills like opening and closing doors.
  • Talk, Talk, Talk! A preschoolers’ vocabulary is rapidly increasing and they are often very chatty as they practice their new ability to communicate.  Be sure to listen to children, answer their questions, and encourage them to express themselves by communicating with others.
  • Pushing the Limits. Children aged 3-5 are naturally curious about the world and sometimes test the limits of their abilities – and the patience of those caring for them!  Be sure to provide structure and a routine for children to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

And here are some great tips for connecting and communicating with 3-5-year-olds:


Video provided courtesy of The Raising Children Network

School-aged development

  • Social: Children between the ages of 5-8 are learning the art of fun, both by themselves and with strengthening friendships.  Encourage children of this age to practice sharing and caring with their friends and discourage teasing or bullying.
  • Learning: School-aged children are rapidly learning their way around the world through new skills including reading and maths.  Encourage children in these skills through activities like reading and practical applications for maths.  Let children measure baking ingredients or help you count the money before buying something at the shops.
  • Physical: Many children in this age group will be able to ride a bike (with training wheels), swim, use a skipping rope and have good ball handling skills. Encourage dexterity skills by allowing children to tie their own shoes, zip up their jackets, button shirts, hold a pencil and cut with scissors.

Everyone is different!

Experienced parents and teachers often note how unique each child is.  Don’t expect all kids to reach the same milestones at exactly the same age.  Patience and an individualized approach to working with children will help to encourage children to grow without the constant pressure to achieve.

If you have worked with a child for a period of time and you have a real concern about a developmental issue or delay, you could communicate this to the parents in a gentle and non-judgmental way.  Remember, it’s not your job to diagnose, but you should feel comfortable to express your concerns to the child’s parents.

Now, it’s time for a quiz!