Infant-toddler-preschooler: Childcare age groups and development phases

Nupur Mittal

Nupur Mittal

Published 21st Dec 2022

As parents, you want what’s best for your children. But from birth till school, your kid goes through multiple development phases. Each development phase comes with its own set of challenges, growth, and experiences. That’s why you must learn about different childcare age groups, developmental milestones, and how to deal with them. This awareness will also help you choose the right caregiver for your child .

Table of Contents

Why should you care about different age groups in childcare?

Children in different age groups develop different skills, have varying needs, and require special attention. For example, an infant learns to develop language skills while a preschooler begins interacting with adults and children outside her family. Both these developments demand different attention and care. So, learning about the childcare age group is non-negotiable for caregivers, parents, and even teachers.

With a strong understanding of the childcare age group, you’ll get the following benefits:

  • Provide a positive growth experience by giving them the right care based on the child’s development.
  • Plan different activities because activities that an infant enjoys might not be enjoyed by a preschool kid.
  • Develop strong and healthy relationships with children as you are familiar with their needs.

Childcare age group: Developments and ideal care

In the following sections, we’ve covered four major age groups which demand the highest care. We’ve also discussed the best way to care for them and the ideal child-to-adult ratio.

1. Infant/newborn age group

Age range

0 – 18 months

Developments expected

  • Learn to sit, crawl, and even walk
  • Begin to understand and speak the language. Some common actions: Cooing, babbling, etc. 
  • Develop bonds of love and trust with their parents.
  • Respond to social cues and recognize similar faces.

How to care for this age group

  • Avoid keeping babies in strollers, swings, and bouncer seats for a long time.
  • Make sure you take your infant for vaccination shots at the right time. The early stage vaccines are important to prevent diseases in later stages of life.
  • Create a safe, nurturing, and responsive environment to let infants explore their surroundings, read and understand social cues, and interact with fellow infants.
  • Ensure that an infant (0-12 months) gets adequate sleep — at least 12–16 hours per 24 hours(including naps)

Ratios and group size

1 trained adult to care for 3-4 infants

2. Toddler age group

Age range

18 months – 3 years

Developments expected

The toddler begins to move around and become aware of their surroundings and environment. This development happens when they’re 2 years old. 

Some other development during 18 months – 2 years include 

  • Increased desire to explore new objects and people
  • Imitate adults and other children.
  • Recognize themselves in the mirror.

The development milestones we discussed above become much more prominent as a toddler grows older than 2 years. For example, they experience huge learning, social, and thinking changes that help them navigate their surroundings.

How to care for this age group

  • Take toddlers on field trips, long walks, or bus drives and encourage their curiosity by getting them familiar with common objects such as vehicles, trees, etc.
  • The food preferences might change for toddlers. Don’t scold or discourage them for this. Instead, encourage them by giving them different food items.
  • Ensure that a toddler gets adequate sleep — 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps).

Ratios and group size

1 trained adult to care for 6-10 preschoolers

Download childcare age group chart for ready reference

3. Preschooler age group

Age range

3 – 5 years

Developments expected

A preschooler is much more independent and begins to connect with adults and children outside their family. This is also when they begin schooling, and some major cognitive developments occur, such as writing letters and numbers independently, developing a sense of humor, and trying to solve puzzles.

Other common developments among this age group include learning to ride a bicycle, dress and undress themselves, and sing a song or poem.

How to care for this age group

  • Encourage playing and conversations with other children. It will teach them the value of friendship, teamwork, and sharing.
  • Encourage children to be more disciplined and correct mistakes as early as possible.
  • Free them food rich in vegetables and fruits and contains large amounts of protein and vitamins. Avoid food that’s rich in fat, added sugar, or salt.
  • Ensure adequate sleep of around 10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).

Ratios and group size

 1 trained adult to care for 6-10 preschoolers

4. School-aged children

Age range

6 – 12 years

Developments expected

Children develop a huge sense of independence at this stage, and friendship becomes an integral part of their life. Also, the need to be recognized by fellow peers is at its peak among school-aged children.

How to care for this age group

  • Celebrate your child’s accomplishments.
  • Immerse them in at least 1 hour of physical activity.
  • Team children about the basics of traffic and how to walk safely on the road.
  • Encourage children to indulge in team and volunteering events. Doing so will help them learn the value of social work.
  • Get them adequate sleep of around 9-12 hours per 24 hours (including naps).

Ratios and group size

1 trained adult to care for 10-12 school-aged kids.

Here’s a tabular representation to give you a bird’s eye view of four different age groups and developments during each stage.

Age Range

Ideal child-to-adult-ratio

Developments observed

Activities to promote these developments


0-18 months

1 trained adult to care for 3-4 infants

Develop a bond of love and trust with parents.

Language development includes sounds like cooing, babbling, and uttering words like ‘ma-ma’ and ‘da-da’

Sing, and read to your baby

Talk to your baby using motherese (baby talk)

Interact them with colorful toys to encourage their motor skills.


18 months - 3 years

1 trained adult to care for 3-6 toddlers

Imitate adults and other children.

Recognize themselves in the mirror.

Use puzzles, legos, etc. and encourage the toddler to assemble them.

Play outside and encourage physical activities such as jumping, walking, etc.

Sing songs and poems or read books during sleeptime


3-5 years

1 trained adult to care for 6-10 preschoolers

Demand more independence as they interact with adults and children outside their families.

Learn to drive a bicycle, dress, or undress.

Plan guided movements such as rope skipping, leapfrog, hopscotch, ball throw, etc.

Draw with them such as crayon drawing.

Indulge in thumb painting, hand painting, etc.


6-12 year

1 trained adult to care for 10-12 school-aged kids

Seek more independence.

Friendships become integral part of their life.

Peer pressure becomes evident.

Make puppets and put on a puppet show.

Play guessing games such as Charades or Pictionary.

Clay making, geometric shape cutting, etc.

Household chores like folding clothes and arranging them.

Download childcare age group chart for ready reference

Learn and care for each age group with Illumine

With a clear understanding of development milestones for different age groups, you can provide the best care to your children. Who doesn’t want that, right?

Well, you don’t have to handle all the tasks alone. Let Illumine help. It’s the best childcare management software that handles a lot for you.

1. Get instant reporting from the daycare center:

Our daycare reporting tool lets schools and daycare providers connect with parents and send them real-time updates about their children. From their activity status to the daily progress report, parents can get a holistic view at their fingertips.

2. Smart bus tracking

Keep track of the driver’s details, the bus route, and even track location with an in-built GPS. Besides, you’ll get alerts about your children’s arrival and departure timings. So, you don’t need to wait an hour before waiting for the bus with Illumine’s bus tracking feature.

3. Streamline your children’s learning process.

As children start going to school, the workload can increase tremendously. The work can be overwhelming, from tracking your child’s progress to managing different lessons. But, with Illumine’s lesson planning software, everything is managed in a single dashboard. You get a bird’s eye view of your child’s progress, school assessment, and even achievements.

Child's assessment report in Illumine linked with development milestone for her age group


There is no denying that children demand care as they grow and enter a different age group. Preschoolers and school-age children require more work. They go out in the world and interact with children and adults from different backgrounds, learn to develop their physical & mental abilities, and begin to seek independence. Handling this childcare age group might be overwhelming, which is where Illumine comes in. With its childcare management tools, schools and childcare providers streamline multiple processes such as reporting, lesson planning, assessment, and more.

Would you like to receive helpful resources like this once a month? Subscribe below

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top