Baby Vs Toddler Differences: A Complete Guide To Ages And Stages

Baby vs toddler

Having a firm understanding of the terms newborn, infant, and toddler mean can be important and beneficial. A young child needs to have a classification title for many reasons, especially when so many parents often need to seek help or answers about medications, developmental milestones, and professional medical advice.

This article will help you decipher how the term infant differs from the term newborn. A baby’s development is important, but we have to understand where they should be in growth and development by first understanding a few words that help define our babies.

Continue reading to learn more about baby vs toddler and all of the stages involved.

How long is a baby considered a newborn

The term newborn differs in classification depending upon who you ask. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that little ones are newborns until they reach 28 days old, or just under one month.

The WHO sticks to these numbers because the first 28 days are the most crucial in terms of neonatal death and illness, and once those four weeks have passed, the risk of newborn death decreases exponentially.

Many doctors, however, use the term newborn baby until a little one has reached two months of age.

Newborn Infant Developments

In the first two months of life, there are several milestones that a newborn is expected to reach. As primary caregivers, parents have the best understanding of their own babies. Therefore, just because your baby doesn’t hit every single benchmark by two months doesn’t mean there is something wrong. Speak with your doctor or address the issue with an expert if something concerns you.

Within the first two months, the typical newborn:

  • Increases in size (compared to birth weight and length)
  • Bonds with primary caregivers
  • Makes eye contact and starts to smile
  • Cries as a means of communication (needs a diaper change, is hungry, doesn’t feel well, is tired)
  • Moves limbs and head in reaction to sounds and changes in temperature and light

Remember, you know your baby best. As a newborn, your baby is learning to decipher between basic and distinct sounds in your home and their surroundings, so not reacting to every noise isn’t an immediate red flag. Familiar people are a source of comfort, so a baby may not cry at every immediate need.

Infant vs toddler age range

Infants begin their growth and development, and then it seems like they don’t stop moving at breakneck speed until they grow up and move out. This is a period of fast growth and excitement, but it can be challenging to know when precisely an infant is no longer an infant and has officially entered the toddler phase.

Baby vs toddler

The Infancy Period

The term “infant” comes from two Latin words, and translated, it means that it’s a newborn baby who doesn’t talk. Sounds very scientific, doesn’t it?

Most experts refer to the infancy stage as the period of life between two months and twelve months of age.

The growth and development of the average infant vary, as infants learn at different stages depending on many factors such as age range, how much time is spent with a primary caregiver, and any other things.

However, as a general rule of thumb, the average infant can do the following things by the age of twelve months:

  • Sit without support
  • Eat some solids and healthy food with their own fingers
  • Engage in babble or baby talk
  • Come close to tripling their birth weight
  • Understand simple speech and know a few words

When to Worry

Children learn at different paces, but certain red flags are usually easier to identify by twelve months than at two months in the newborn stage. If your child is still not sitting up or rolling over at one year of age, you should probably say something to your pediatrician.

If your baby does not make eye contact, attempt any form of speech, including baby talk, or respond when you say the child’s name, it can be a sign of a neurological disorder and should be evaluated. Another potential red flag is a one-year-old who doesn’t grab for things or reach for objects.

The Toddler Years

Our young offspring go by many cute names, some of which aren’t in any parenting book you’ll ever read. Many parents will still see their children as babies until they’ve reached adult height and have a family of their own.

The term “baby” is fine for us to use as a pet name for our infants, but we start to see those personalities emerge with the average toddler. Many infants live to smile and see you smile. Toddlers reach for things, test the waters of what they can get away with, and want to play with other children more than they want to play with their parents.

Toddler age range

Your child technically becomes a toddler at age one and remains a toddler till age three. The term is derived from its root “to toddle,” meaning that they start to walk, but, well, let’s face it, they’re not that great at it just yet.

Most kids really start to walk and explore the world around them at this stage, and while they all develop at different rates, there are certain milestones the average toddler should be hitting.

Optimally, a toddler:

  • Can walk and climb stairs
  • Knows names of people close to them or that they see regularly
  • Can feed themselves
  • Can help dress themselves
  • Have reached half their adult height
  • Understands simple games like peek a boo
  • Will develop fine motor skills (grasping and picking up objects)

When to See a Doctor

If your toddler doesn’t pick objects out of a lineup just yet or isn’t having full discussions with you by age three, your child is most likely fine. In some cases, however, there are signs that a toddler needs a close evaluation if they are not doing certain things at the toddler stage.

The following are some red flags in behavior and development that you should seek professional medical advice.

  • Has no interest in familiar people
  • Does not answer to their own name
  • Cannot walk or falls a lot
  • Cannot eat properly (doesn’t chew and swallow food)
  • Does not understand, answer, or process simple questions or directions when given

Special Precautions with Toddlers

Toddlers are mobile, and they are often very curious. They enjoy exploring and getting into things. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Encyclopedia Britannica define toddler age as a child from ages 1 to 3. Still, the curiosity can start much sooner than age one, and it can end much later than age three.

Understanding toddler age range

Keep Cleaning Supplies Away from Every Kid

Whether your baby is an infant or a toddler, keep all chemicals and cleaning supplies out of a baby’s reach. When we say “infant and toddler,” the terms signify that they’re learning fast, and these babies learn by touch and investigation. Keep the number for Poison Control handy, and keep all toxic substances well out of reach.

Child Proof

Infants and toddlers, and really, all kids in general, develop at different rates, but they all love to explore. Be sure to childproof your home so that you can offer a world for your children to explore that is safe. Cabinet locks, baby gates, doorknob guards, and outlet covers are necessary if you have kids who fall under any of the different definitions of development. Better safe than sorry.

The English Language and Development

Learning the definitions for each of the terms for babies is important to keep up with the fast-paced development of your babies. The word ‘toddle’ may help you remember that a toddler can walk, but what if your eighteen-month-old isn’t walking yet? Does that mean they’re still an infant?

Many babies are slow to walk or talk, and babies grow at different rates. The important thing to remember is that these definitions go by age and not development. If your baby reaches for things as an infant but doesn’t play simple games at age two, they are not still an infant.

The milestones are there so that we can gauge how far ahead, on target, or behind our children are when it comes to developing, reactions and interactions with external stimuli, and other such milestones.

When it comes to classifying your child’s title, always go by age rather than milestones.

Autism Screenings for Toddlers

Autism wasn’t well understood even ten years ago, and in some ways, it still isn’t. However, adults have made strides in identifying it and assessing it in children at a young age so that each kid can have their best chance with things like behavioral and physical therapy to lead a fuller life.

If your child is missing any major developmental milestones, or if something about your kid seems “off,” don’t hesitate to bring it to your doctor’s attention. Most pediatricians strongly suggest getting a child who doesn’t walk, wave, speak or make eye contact tested for autism between 18 and 24 months to get the best care and therapy benefits possible.

In fact, many toddlers diagnosed with autism today have a great chance of functioning normally in society at some point and living a reasonably independent life as adults.

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