physical development across the life stages

  • Created by: ClsxxDV
  • Created on: 10-02-20 11:38


Definition: An increase in a measurable quantity such as height or weight or other dimensions.


  • Variable across different parts of the body
  • Measured using height, weight and dimesnions
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Definition: Complex changes in skills and capabilities that an individual experiences as they grow. 


  • Follows an orderly sequence
  • Acquistion of skills/abilities
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Infancy (0-2 years)

Midwives and health visitors record the infant's height/length and weight on a growth chart - different growth charts for boys and girls.

An infant or child whose growth folllows the 50th centile is average - centile lines are lines of a graph used to show average measurements of height, weight and head cicumference. The lines represent the values of measurements taking into account age and sex.

An infant's head cicumference will be measured at birth and will again be measured if there is cause for concern.


  • Milestones (also known as developmental norms) - these include the skills that infants, children and adolescents are expected to develop at a particular age or stage of their life. These include: walking, talking and tying shoelaces.
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Definition: These are actions which arenot under our control. Babies have primitive reflexes which disappear; they protect the baby in the first few months of life. 

Describe the following reflexes:

  • Rooting reflex - causes the baby to turn their cheek to their source of feee.
  • ****ing reflex - **** any object that comes into contact with their mouth.
  • Moro reflex - Arms fling in and out and arch back after sudden movement.
  • Grasping reflex - Curl fingers round objects  in their palm.
  • Tonic neck reflex - Turn head, arms and legs to one side and flex limbs on other side.
  • Stepping reflex - Lift legs as if there going wo walk upright.
  • Babinski - The toes curl when the bottom of their foot is stroked. 
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Motor skills

There are two aspects of physical development which are gross motor skills and fine motor skills.

Gross motor skills:

  • Movements that involve using the large muscles in the body
  • Require the use of legs, arms, neck and torso
  • As soon as baby is born their gross motor skills develop.
  • Examples include: grasping, stretching and kicking on floor and brining hand to mouth. 

Fine motor skills:

  • Actions which require the use of smalleer muscles in the hands, fingers and toes.
  • Allow infants to pick things up using the fingers and thumbs (Pincer movemnet). 
  • Includes wriggling of toes and holding a crayon or small toy. 
  • Involves coordinating the small muscles in hands and fingers to work together. 
  • Needs small movements of muscles and eyes to guide movements. 
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Physical development milestones Infancy (0-2 years


  • Gross motor skills - Primitive reflexes such as grasp
  • Fine motor skills - Holds their thumbs tucked into their hands

1 Month:

  • Gross moto skills - Lifts chin, some control of head
  • Fine motor skills - Opens hands to grasp finger

3 Months:

  • Gross motor skills - Can lift their head and chest when lying on front
  • Fine motor skills - Can briefly grasp a rattle
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physical development milestones Infancy (0-2 years

6 Months:

  • Gross moto skills - Rolls over, can sit up for a short time without support, kicks legs when held up
  • Fine moto skills - Moves objects from hand to hand, can pick up a dropped toy if they are in sight

9 - 10 Months:

  • Gross motor skills - Crawls, begins to cruise (walking while holding on to objects)
  • Fine motor skills - Uses finger and thumb to hold a small object

12 - 13 Months:

  • Gross motor skills - Stands alone, can walk without help
  • Fine motor skills - Manipulates and places toys
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physical development milestones Infancy (0-2 years

18 Months:

  • Gross motor skills - Climbs on furniture
  • Fine moto skills - Builds a short tower with blocks

2 Years:

  • Gross motor skills - Propels a sit on toy with their feet, throws a large ball
  • Fine motor skills - Draws lines and circles, turns a page

2 and a half years:

  • Gross motor skills - Jumps from a low step, kicks a ball
  • Fine motor skills - Uses a spoon and fork, builds a tower of 7-8 blocks
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Physical development milestones Early childhood (3

3 - 4 Years:

  • Gross motor skills - Balance and walk along a line, can pedal and control a tricycle
  • Fine motor skills - Can use a spoon to eat, Duplo lego, climbing

5 - 8 Years:

  • Gross motor skills - Balance on a low beam, accurately throw and catch a ball, can skip with a rope.
  • Fine moto skills - Can write their name, dress and undress independently, build with lego, tire shoelaces

8 Years:

  • Gross motor skills - Can ride a bike
  • Fine motor skills - Can draw detailed pictures
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Adolescence (9 - 18 Years)

Role of hormones:

  • In boys (testosterone) :  13-15 years:  Growth spurt, pubic hair groth, lowering of voice and the development of muscle
  • In girls (oestrogen and progesterone) : 11-13 years: Growth spurt, helps regulate the menstrul cycle and reproductive system.

Primary sexual characteristics:

  • Present at birth and develop during puberty
  • Female: Ovaries begin to release eggs, menstrual cycle commences
  • Male: Testicles begin to produce sperm, enlargement of penis and testes

Secondary sexual characteristics:

  • Develop during puberty
  • Female: Breasts develop, hair growth in arm pits and pubic area
  • Male: Hair growth in arm pits and pubic area, redistribution of muscle tissue and fat
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Early adulthood ( 19-45 ) years

Peak of their physical performance between the ages of 19 and 28:

  • Reached their full height and srength, and reaction time and manual dxterity are also at their peak

Pregnancy and lactation in a female lifespan:

  • Progesterone maintains pregnacy
  • Oestrogen may be responsible for sickness
  • Hormones affect the shape and appearence of breasts in readiness for lactation 
  • Lactation - the process in which your breasts produce milk to feed your baby
  • Milk productive system begins to work while you are still pregnant and produces colostrum (the pre-milk which your baby drinks during the first few days after birth before your milk supply fully comes in.
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Early adulthood (19-45) - Perimenopause

  • Produce less oestrogen and don't produce eggs every month
  • The stage of perimenopause ends when a women has not had a monthly period for 12 months. During this stage women can experince emotional and physical changes

Physical symptoms:

  • Hot flushes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain

Emotional symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
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Later adulthood (65+)

Physical changes:

  • Wrinkles
  • Grey hair
  • Difficulty walking
  • Posture disappears
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Immune systems weakens

Deteriation of health:

  • Height loss - By the age of 80 individuals may have lost as much as 5cm. caused by changes in posture and compression of the spinal discs and joints
  • Intellectual ability - Negatively affects how we process information. E.g. memory, recall, speed of thinking etc.
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