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Difference between Newborn, Infant, Toddler, and Baby – Children age range explained

Apple of my eye, my baby, pumpkin, munchkin, cutie-pie, mini-me. There are so many things we call our kids out of love. But in today's day & age, when online support, virtual medical help, and digital discussions are so prevalent, we are sometimes unsure about how to refer to our kids, basis children age range terms widely used. 

Even in this context, while talking about children, we often interchangeably use terms like newborn, baby, infant, and toddler. However, they are not the same, and knowing the difference between them is essential because each of these terms signifies different stages of growth & development in your child. To identify and initiate an early intervention when it comes to any developmental red flags of milestone delays, one must know the stages of growth & development of a child at each stage. 


Newborn vs Infant vs Toddler vs Babies - How Do They Differ?

Until a baby reaches the age of 4, that is generally the school-going age; many different terms are used to define the stages on the basis of their age. This helps determine their food and nutrition needs, medical needs, and vaccinations that they might need. 




What age is a newborn?

The term newborn is used to refer to a baby who has just arrived in the world. According to The World Health Organization, a baby less than 28 days old is considered a newborn, but doctors and experts refer to babies as newborns up to 2 months of age. 


Growth and Development

Every baby is different, and some babies take a little longer than others to reach age-appropriate milestones. Typically, a baby by the age of two months – 

  • Gains steady weight and height also grows by a couple of inches
  • Cries to communicate needs such as hunger, need for a diaper change, sleep, etc
  • Starts to develop an emotional bond with the primary caregiver 
  • Smiles and makes eye contact
  • Reacts to external stimuli such as sound, light, etc. and moves arms, legs, and head in response


When to see a paediatrician?

If there is a medical emergency, one should take their newborn to the paediatrician. But also in case of development red flags such as the ones mentioned below, it is advised to notify the child's paediatrician. 

  • If the baby does not smile or maintain eye contact for a few seconds by two months
  • If the baby is not babbling by two months
  • If the baby does not grasp things with a fist




What age is an infant?

The term infant is a combination of two Latin words, "in-" (the opposite of) and "fari" (to speak), meaning "one incapable of speaking." So, to answer the question, "What age are infants?" Infant refers to a child who is less than one year of age. At times, a newborn is also referred to as an infant; thus, the terms are interchangeable up to two months; thus, infant vs baby vs newborn is the same thing. 


Growth and Development

Up to the age of one, babies learn many new skills and develop their senses quickly. By the age of 1, usually, the babies would -

  • Smile, wave, clap, babble, or even speak a few words
  • Sit without support and can transition from breastfeeding to solids
  • Some kids even start to walk without support by the age of one
  • They gain substantial weight during the first year and weigh nearly triple their birth weight
  • They can recognize a few objects by their names and can understand simple words


When to see a paediatrician?

By the age of one, babies usually have shown tremendous growth in their balancing, grasping, cognitive, and emotional skills. It is advised to talk to an expert in the case by the age of one, the baby – 

  • Does not crawl or roll over
  • Sit up unsupported
  • Babble or speak a few unclear, regular use words
  • Does not respond when called out by their name
  • Does not wave
  • Does not reach out for things or try to grasp things yet




What age is a toddler?

The term toddler comes from the word 'toddle,' which describes how babies move around. By the age of one, babies start to move around – crawl, cruise, walk with support, and in some cases even walk without support. So, to answer the question, "What age are toddlers?'... As per the CDC and Encyclopedia Britannica, kids between 1 – 3 years of age are described as toddlers.  


Growth and Development

The cognitive skills, height, and overall physical development and skills have a fast pace of development between ages 1 and 3. A toddler ideally – 

  • Co-operates and even helps in getting dressed up
  • Can walk and climb stairs
  • Learns names of colours, shapes, alphabets and can relate people with their names
  • Can chew food and feed themselves
  • Reach half their adult height
  • Can have two-way communication and speaks in phrases


When to see a pediatrician?

As a baby's growth is most evident in the toddler phase, in most cases, developmental red flags can be easily identified, and early intervention can be done at this age. It is advised to seek expert opinion in case a toddler – 

  • Is not maintaining eye contact at all
  • Is not able to process and respond to simple questions
  • Is not able to chew food or swallow properly
  • Does not show interest in familiar people 
  • Is not walking, or has balancing issues and often falls while walking




What age is a baby? 

The terms baby, child, and kid are common and generic terms and are used to describe anyone up to the age of 4 years old or even beyond. So, a young one is called a baby, regardless of their age. However, sometimes parents refer to their child as a baby even when they are a school-going kid. Thus, no hard and fast definition applies to the term 'Baby.' 

To summarise children age range, a baby till the age of 2 months is called a newborn, till the age of one is an infant, a toddler till the age of 3 years, and a pre-schooler after 3+.  It is important to know these terms to track the growth and development of your child as per recommendations and standards of organizations such as WHO and CDC.

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