Child development and milestones: Your 5-years-6-months-old child

Child development and milestones: Your 5-years-6-months-old child

What is your child up to this month?

It wasn’t that long ago that your child was a tiny baby, and now he or she is suddenly all of 5 years 6 months old, making you wonder where all the years went. We're sure you want to know what feats your little one will amaze you with this month. And you can learn all about your 5 years 6 months old child's development and milestones in this article. 

Do keep in mind that no two children are the same, and as such, your child may be developing at his/her own pace, hitting these milestones earlier or later than his/her peers. 

However, if you are concerned that your child isn’t reaching milestones on time, you should refer your concerns to your child’s paediatrician.

5 Years 6 Months Old Child Development and Milestones: Is Your Child on Track?

5 years 6 months old less clumsy

Physical development

No longer a clumsy toddler, your 5 years 6 months old child's physical development is quite obvious. Quite nimble and agile, your little one loves to run, jump and play. Encourage plenty of outdoor play as this is crucial to proper physical development. 

At this stage, your child’s median height and weight* should be as follows:

  • Boys
    – Height: 112.4 cm (44.3 inches)
    – Weight: 19.6 kg (43.3lb)
  • Girls
    – Height: 113. 8 cm (44.8 inches)
    – Weight: 19.2 kg (42.2lb)

Here are some physical development milestones your child should have hit by now. He/she:

  • Can swing and climb.
  • Can ride a tricycle.
  • Climbs the stairs without problems, using both feet.
  • Can use cutlery to eat like forks, knives and spoons.
  • Is fully potty-trained and can use the toilet alone.
  • Can skip and hop around.
  • Can stand on one foot for longer than 10 seconds.

Tips:

  • Your 5 years 6 months old will grow into a very confident young person if you allow him/her to showcase his/her physical abilities. Don’t curb your child's desire to run around!
  • Give your child more activities to help him practice new skills. Bring him/her to a new playground, go on long walks or enrol your child in sports. 
  • Now that your child can handle cutlery, encourage the use of eating utensils the right away. This helps your child's fine motor skills develop. 

When to talk to your doctor:

If you notice that your child isn’t accomplishing some skills, taking him/her to a doctor will help to assess the child’s development. Watch out for these signs. 

Your child:

  • Doesn’t play a lot of physical games or engage in games that are physical in nature.
  • Acquires new skills and loses the skills soon after.
  • Is withdrawn or uninterested in physical activity.

signs of good cognitive development

Cognitive development

Your child’s cognitive development refers to the growth of his mind. At this stage of development, your child has a highly active imagination and is very curious. All these are signs of good cognitive development. 

Your child will try to reason and argue with you, especially if he wants something. While you might think he/she is being cheeky, this is in fact a sign that your little one's brain is engaging in critical thinking and rational thought.

Keep an eye out for the following developments, too. Your child:

  • Can draw triangles and other shapes from books.
  • Counts up to 10 and above.
  • Draws a caricature of the human body with at least seven body parts.
  • Knows how things like money work.
  • Can copy some numbers and letters.
  • Has developing reasoning and problem-solving skills.
  • Has some reading and maths skills.

Tips:

  • Your child may exhibit more complex thought at this stage, but you should still communicate with simple (but not "baby talk") words so he/she can still follow your conversation.
  • Encourage your child to write and draw more, as this will improve not only literacy levels but also self-confidence.
  • Ask your child about his/her day, every day. This is a great way for your little one to learn how to verbally express his or her thoughts. You will find that not only will he/she recount activities, but will also offer insights into things that happened around him/her.

When to talk to your doctor:

If your child:

  • Can’t focus for a long time and gets distracted easily.
  • Can't recount past events or talk about their day.
  • Doesn’t respond to people or responds without enthusiasm.
  • Mixes up past and present tense.
  • Doesn’t understand plural and singular.
  • Doesn’t draw.

Social and emotional development

child development

Your little one's imagination is already at full bloom at this time, so expect funny, imaginative and ridiculous questions and conversations.  At this age, your child has developed some sort of self-awareness.

This means that he/she understands that people around him/her can have viewpoints that differ. Here are some other milestones to expect in social and emotional development.

  • While you can still get the occasional meltdowns, at this stage your little one is all about presenting his/her own side of the argument and making sure he/she gets his/her point across verbally.
  • Tries to please friends.
  • Can have fluctuating moods: sometimes agreeable and sometimes uncooperative.
  • Understands rules and tries to follow rules.
  • Interested in singing, dancing and acting.
  • Understands gender differences.
  • Tries to copy and be like friends.

Tips:

  • Reinforce your child’s conflict resolution skills by teaching him/her to apologise when he/she is wrong
  • The point above will work even better if you apologise to your child too, when appropriate. 
  • Your child will learn to verbally express dissatisfaction if you take time to listen to him/her. Once this becomes a pattern, tantrums will reduce.

When to talk to your doctor:

If your child:

  • Exhibits extreme behaviour like aggressiveness, shyness, fear or sadness.
  • Doesn’t show any emotions.
  • Refuses to play with others.

Speech and language development

little girl painting

Your little one is also a little chatterbox! His/her vocabulary has improved to the point where he/she  can even engage in conversations with adults. He/she can sing, rhyme, and even make up unique words.

Your child,

  • Can count up to ten.
  • Can identify up to four colours and shapes.
  • Knows some letters of the alphabet.
  • Speaks clearly.
  • Understands time by associating time with activities, e.g., school in the morning and bedtime at night.
  • Knows where he/she lives. 
  • Can read short words, usually 2-letter to 4-letter words like cat, cup, etc.
  • Might be able to write his/her names.

Tips:

  •  Communicate with complex sentences.
  • Follow up questions with more questions to make them talk more.
  • If your child doesn’t like talking too much, don’t force it.

When to talk to your doctor:

If your child:

  •  Avoids eye contact while talking.
  • Finds it hard to process non-verbal communication.

Health and nutrition

By now, your child might eat and enjoy the same food as everyone else in the family. He/she will also tell you when hungry and can proficiently use cutlery. Avoid giving your little one foods with lots of salt and sugar

Continue to provide meals that offer balanced nutrition so that your child's mind and body grow well.

Your child needs approximately anywhere between 1500 and 1800 calories to fuel him/her through the day. This is, of course, depending on growth and activity level. Typically, the calorie intake for boys and girls of this age are as follows:

  • Boys: 1,706 Kcal/day
  • Girls: 1,599 Kcal/day

Here's a snapshot of what you can give your child to fulfill his/her daily nutrition requirement:

Protein  

Your child needs two servings of protein (in total, around 32.4g) each day. One serving equals one to three tablespoons of lean meat, chicken, or fish, four to five tablespoons of dry beans and peas, or one egg.

Fruits 

Your child needs three (100g) cups of fruits everyday. One cup of fruit equals one cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, half (1/2) cup dried fruit, half (1/2) of a large apple, one eight- or nine-inch banana, or one medium grapefruit.

If your child wants to drink fruit juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice without added sugars. Give fresh fruit whenever possible, preferably with the skin on for added fibre.

Vegetables 

At this stage, your child requires two cups (100g each) of vegetables every day. One cup of vegetables equals one cup of cooked or raw vegetables, two cups of raw leafy greens, one large tomato, or two medium carrots.

Give your child a "rainbow on his/her plate" every week. For example, a variety of vegetables of many colours, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and others, each week. When selecting canned or frozen vegetables, look for options lower in sodium.

Grains 

Introduce a minimum of four ounces of grains in your child’s meals. One ounce of grains equals one slice of bread, one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or half (1/2) cup of cooked pasta or cooked cereal.

Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice. Limit refined grains such as white bread, pasta and rice.

Milk/Dairy 

Your child should drink a minimum of 17 to 20 ounces of milk a day. You may also substitute one cup of milk with one cup of yogurt or soy milk , 1½ ounces of natural cheese (around the size of four stacked dice), or two ounces of processed cheese (around the size of five stacked dice).

In a nutshell, here’s what you child needs every day (refer above for what the amounts look like):

  • Fruits: three cup for boys; three cups for girls
  • Vegetables: two cups for boys; two cups for girls
  • Grains: four ounces for boys; four ounces for girls
  • Proteins: 32.4g for boys; 32.4g for girls
  • Milk: 17-20 ounces for boys; 17-20 ounces for girls
  • Water: 1500 ml for boys; 1500 ml for girls (around six cups)

Vaccinations and common illnesses

There are no vaccinations due this month. However, you could speak to your doctor about giving your child the flu vaccine.

Common illnesses to look out for are the common flu, chicken pox, measles, mumps and possible food allergies. Also watch out for Hand Foot and Mouth disease. 

Treating Common Illnesses

To manage the three most common medical issues in kids – fever, cough, and cold – try the following:

  • To treat fever: While fever is a common illness, it can be treated at-home with common home remedies. If your child has fever up to 38°C (100.4°F), give him/her plenty of fluids and encourage your kid to rest. You could also apply lukewarm compresses to your child’s forehead, groin, and armpits to help bring the temperature down. If the temperature rises above 38°C (100.4°F), you should bring him/her to the doctor and get prescriptions for over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
  • To treat cough: You may know that coughing is a reflex that clears the throat. But it can make your child irritable if it is also accompanied by a runny nose and sneezing. Ideally, you should first try simple home remedies such as ginger and honey mixed in lukewarm water. Plus, ask your kid to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day to help ease the discomfort. If your child cough does not ease after three to five days, or turns very phlegmy, bring him/her to the doctor for treatment and management advice.
  • To treat cold: Unless its extremely distressing, avoid taking any OTC medication for common colds. Colds are caused by a virus and so antibiotics will not help. If your child’s cold is accompanied by body aches and very high fever, it could in fact be influenza. You’d need to bring your child to a doctor if so for medical advice.

Please note that while some medications can be bought without any prescriptions, your first option of treatment for mild health issues should be simple home remedies.

It’s also a good idea to teach and encourage your child to practice good hygiene, especially hand-washing. This can help prevent the spread of illnesses.

When to call a doctor? If your child,

  • Has fever over 38 degrees celcius.
  • Has suddenly lost weight.
  • Complains of pain.

Previous month: 5 years 5 months

Next month: 5 years 7 months

Resources: WebMD, CDC.gov,  HealthyChildren .org 

Republished with permission from The Asian Parent

(*Disclaimer: This is the median height and weight according to WHO standards)

Written by

Africa parent