Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

How your baby learns - birth to 3 years

2-minute read

Download this guide as a PDF

View text version of infographic

In the first 3 years of your baby’s life, they will go from being totally dependent on you for everything to becoming their own little person. Know more about how your baby learns and develops and how you can help and guide them.

Learning to move

  • 3-5 months - move arms and legs, roll from side to side
  • 6-9 months - sit and hold toys
  • 9-12 months - crawl and pull to stand
  • 1-2 years - walk, squat to play
  • 2-3 years - run, climb stairs, pull large toys


  • 3-6 months - reach out for toys
  • 6-12 months - play with various hand toys
  • 15-24 months - build blocks, post shapes, scribble
  • 2-3 years - build towers, draw, thread beads


  • From birth - read and talk to your baby
  • 3-6 months - make sounds, look at your baby's eyes
  • 9 months - 'peek a boo' games, encourage babble
  • 15-18 months - look at picture books, use single words
  • 2-3 years - put words together, ask questions


  • From birth - smile, hug and play with your baby
  • 18-24 months - feeling of being happy, angry or sad may show
  • 2-3 years - play next to other children, encourage pretend play

Things to remember

Not all babies develop at the same pace. This is meant to be a guide only on how you can help you baby learn and develop.

If you are concerned at all about how your baby is developing, speak to your doctor or maternal child health nurse or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.

Want more like this?

See more guides and infographics from Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2023

Back To Top

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.