Psychomotor” development refers to changes in a child’s cognitive, emotional, motor, and social capacities from the beginning of life throughout fetal and neonatal periods, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.


The stage of psycho-motor development of the child

In the  first three years of life, a child develops his motor and psychological abilities (psycho motor activities) very quickly. First steps, first smile, first words… Here are some points to know while keeping in mind that each child progresses at his own pace.


I Stage → 0 – 1 month

II Stage → 1 – 3 month

III Stage → 3 – 6 month

IV Stage → 6 – 9 month

V Stage → 9 – 12 month

VI Stage → 1- 3 years


Stage I
  • At birth, the baby has so-called archaic reflexes.
  • These are automatic, involuntary movements that occur during fetal life. He sucks, holds his hand very tightly when you put a finger in his palm, walks when you hold him upright.
  • These innate reflexes will gradually disappear and give way to more voluntary reflexes around the age of two months.
  • At this age, the toddler now makes real smiles in response to the adult. He turns his head to follow objects and shakes his hands and legs.
Stage II
  • Between 2 and 4 months, a baby starts to work its vocal cords. He chirps, babbles and then laughs to pieces.

Stage III

  • The child coordinates his movements better and better; he loves kicking.
  • When he is about five months old, he certainly puts himself on his stomach when he lies on his back, and vice versa.
  • His head stands straight without support. Placed on his stomach, he lifts his head and shoulders by standing on his hands and arms.
  • Lying on his back, he lifts his legs in extension.
  • He is also able to turn his head when he hears a sound.
  • As early as six months of age, some children prepare to crawl or crawl.
  • At around seven months, the infant can sit alone without help; he may also be able to get up by holding on to a support.

Stage IV

  • At eight months, the baby starts to move: he crawls or crawls.
  • At this stage, some children stand and move forward clinging to the furniture.
  • Around ten months, he may be able to stand alone for a few moments and then longer.
  • He uses his arms to keep his balance. Most children walk between 10 and 18 months.


Stage V

  • Around ten months, he may be able to stand alone for a few moments and then longer.
  • He uses his arms to keep his balance. Most children walk between 10 and 18 months.
  • His skill continues to grow. He grabs objects more precisely and passes them from one hand to the other.
  • He likes to play “give and take” with other people and “cuckoo, hidden.”
  • He also loves to drop the object in his hand and watch it fall to the ground.
  • Around nine months, the child expresses his desire to eat with his hands and can start using a spoon, even if he does not yet know how to handle it well.
  • He recognizes his first name and turns his head when he hears someone call him. He also really starts playing around the age of one.
  • He spends time stacking cubes, embedding shapes.

Stage VI

  • During this period, skills are refined.
  • He’s getting smarter with his hands.
  • His design improves, his puzzles are more complex, his constructions more elaborate.
  • Between 24 and 36 months, the child learns to turn the handles, unscrew the lids and unpack objects.

Categories of Adaptive Behaviors

  • Gross motor
  • Fine motor
  • Language
  • Personal-Social

Importance of Growth and development  assessment of children

  1. Allow doctor to assess normal growth and minor abnormal deviations
  2. Knowledge of developmental milestones help  parents to gain realistic expectations of their child’s ability and provide guidelines for appropriate play & stimulation
  3. Strength parent-child relationship, builds trust & lessens frustration.

Reflexes of Newborn

  1. Unconditioned reflexes
  2. Transitional reflexes
    1. Oral automatism
    2. Spinal automatism
    3. Myelocephalic reflex
  3. Righting reflex

Unconditioned Reflexes

  • Reflexes that persist throughout life
    1. Swallowing
    2. Papillary
    3. Sneeze
    4. Blinking/Corneal
    5. Glabellar
    6. Yawn
    7. Cough
    8. Gag
    9. Tendon

Transitional Reflexes

  • Reflexes of neonate and infancy
  • These reflexes disappear during infancy
    1. Reflexes of oral automatism
      • Sucking
      • Doll’s eye
      • Rooting
      • Extrusion
      • Lip or trunk
      • Babkin’s
    2. Spinal automatism
      • Defence
      • Moro
      • Statle
      • Supporting
      • Dance (stepping)
      • Karnig’s
      • Babinski
      • Trunk incurvation
      • Pere’z
      • Crawling
      • Bauer’s
    3. Myelocephalic reflex
      • These involve/include the righting reflexes
      • These reflexes are absent in the newborn and appear during infancy.
        1. Landau’s reflex or Landau reaction refers to a reflex seen in infants when held horizontally in the air in the prone position. A normal response of infants when held in a horizontal prone position is to maintain a convex arc with the head raised and the legs slightly flexed.
          • Upper Landau’s reflex (appears @ 4 months)
          • Low  Landau’s reflex (appears @ 4 months)
        2. Parachute Reflex (appears at 7 months),  This reflex occurs in slightly older infants (starts between 6 and 7 months and become fully mature by 1 year of age) when the child is held upright and the baby’s body is rotated quickly to face forward (as in falling). The baby will extend their arms forward as if to break a fall, even though this reflex appears long before the baby walks.


Evaluation of Transitional Reflexes

  • This includes the following points:
    • What reflex is present is the child
    • Are they symmetric
    • Do they  conform to age of the child?

Gross Motor Behavior

  • This includes developmental maturation in:
    • Posture
    • Head balance
    • Sitting
    • Creeping
    • Standing
    • Walking

Fine Motor Behavior

  • This includes the use of the hands and fingers in the apprehension of an object
  • Grasping occurs during the 1st two to 3 months as a reflex ans gradually becomes voluntary.

Language Behavior

  • The infant is a very social being
  • His 1st means of communication is crying
  • He learns to signal displeasure before pleasure
  • Vocalization heard during crying becomes the syllables and words of the child.

Personal-Social Behavior

  • This includes the child’s personal responses to his environment
  • It is the area most influenced by external stimuli
  • Personal-social behavior implies communication with one’s self and with others
  • It is foundation for the successful mastery of stalls such as
    • Feeding
    • Control of bodily functions
    • Independence
    • Cooperativeness in play


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