What’s The Difference Between Infancy And Childhood? (Definition, Characteristics & Stages Of Baby Development) 

Generally, the term infant refers to a very young offspring of a human being. Infants include all children from 2 months to less than 12 months. It is the period when the baby grows very fast. During infancy, the baby doubles in length and triples in weight. Childhood is a young person’s age before puberty or below the legal age of majority. It includes children below 12 years old. In babies, childhood refers to children between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Children learn to walk steadily during this stage and develop other motor skills. 

Infancy and childhood are both terms related to children. Many terms are used to denote them based on their growing years, and infant and child are the most frequently used.

For the first year after birth, a baby is called an infant. Early Childhood begins at two years, when a child may be referred to as a toddler. The childhood phase continues until adolescence, which coincides with the teen years.

What is the infancy stage of child growth?

Infancy is defined as the first year of life after birth.

An infant girl is trying to crawl as mom watches her from behind

An infant is a newborn baby and can be called so till 12 months from birth. This first year of life is the first crucial stage of human development.

Many physical milestones occur during this stage as an infant gains control over its body. 

Infancy is the period of most rapid growth after birth. By the end of the first year, the average baby is twice the length it was at birth and three times its birth weight. 

A normal infant’s internal and external organs function appropriately and start reacting to their surroundings.

An infant can voluntarily yawn, blink, swallow, gag, and cough without needing to teach them. 

An infant also knows how to suck and eliminate waste too. Their vision might not be as clear, but they can recognize dark colors, especially red. They can as well recognize face shapes. 

Infants mainly recognize and get attached to those closely associated with them during their growth, which is the primary reason they’re attached to their mothers. 

Infancy is also the period when most of the deciduous teeth erupt. The twenty deciduous teeth continue to erupt until three years old. They also need about 18 hours of sleep each day,  but as they grow older, they need less sleep.

Breastfeeding remains the recommended method of feeding infants, and breast milk is supplemented by other foods by the end of the first year, although infant formula is an adequate substitute.

Their nasal senses develop during their infant period, and they can sense and smell pleasant and unpleasant odors. They begin to crawl by 6-8 months, while a few do from the ninth month.

The infant can not speak during this period and will only alert their parents by crying, which is their only mode of communication. However, medical sciences have documented rare but possible evidence of male kids speaking a word or two by nine or ten months.

Human infancy ends when the child is weaned from the breast when all their milk teeth have erupted.

Even for late-maturing infants, complementary solid foods have been introduced to supplement the mother’s milk. 

How about childhood? 

The next stage of human development is childhood. It begins after the child’s first birthday and continues until the teen years.

Two toddler children are playing with toys together

During this stage, children begin to explore and develop a sense of Independence and eventually learn to make their own decisions and discover that their actions have consequences. 

Childhood is the second stage of development after infancy. Growth is still relatively rapid during this stage but is slowing down.

By the time babies are five years old, their height is increasing by only 5 percent per year compared with 100 percent per year in the first year.

By the end of the third year, most children can run, walk up the steps, and climb things. 

They can feed and dress with some help, manipulate small objects, and hold a crayon and scribble. They have also learned dozens of words and are speaking in simple sentences. 

Most children are also toilet trained by the end of the third year, with very few still on the potty, especially those with developmental milestone challenges still going through potty training.

Older children continue to grow slowly until the onset of the adolescent growth spurt during puberty. They also continue to develop mentally, emotionally, and socially. 

They develop a sense of self and dependency as they grow and learn.

Babies need to be natured to develop self-confidence instead of self-esteem issues.

They also need guidance as they begin to test out new skills and gain confidence in their decision-making.


Is it a 4-year-old toddler or a child?

There isn’t quite as much agreement about how long the toddler years can last.

While it’s accepted that the first year of life is infancy, there’s no agreement about how long a child is a toddler.

Many argue that toddlers are between 1-3 years old(36 months); some will put the upper limit as two years old, while a few suggest the upper limit is four years old.

What do you call a 5-year-old?

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls them grade-schoolers or school-aged children.

During this time, their physical growth and motor development will slow, but you can expect to see some tremendous intellectual, social, and emotional changes.


The care of a mother is essential in both stages of development.

The care during infancy is more on feeding and keeping them safe, but one must be very careful during their childhood years. It needs adult supervision all the time.

Their level of excitement and curiosity shall lead them to do many fearless things that might harm them. 

Infancy is all about protecting them from sicknesses and nourishing their growth. Once they reach one year, the focus must shift to developing appropriate behavioral patterns.

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Hello, I am Emelda from Nairobi, Kenya. They simply call me mama Lilly. A fun of long road trips and a very good cook, along with my mommy duties to a super active girl. She inspires and challenges me in equal measure, and that is how I get to share with you our journey of triumph as we grow and tag you along.

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