It can be overwhelming... all the terms used by people that know all about baby and child development.

Theodore researched a few of the most common terms and summarizes them in his blog:

Bumbling bumblebees but being busy is fun!  

Today's blog brings attention to bountiful terms used to describe the development of babies, toddlers and kids.  Click on the links for some awesome toy box essentials that you can get right here at Ape to Zebra to support the development of these learning skills!

Motor Skills

Motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in the body. They are divided into two groups:

  • gross motor skills, which include the larger movements of arms, legs, feet, or the entire body (crawling, running, and jumping); and
  • fine motor skills, which are smaller actions, such as grasping an object between the thumb and a finger or using the lips and tongue to taste objects or for speech.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills involve a refined use of the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, thumb, wrists, feet, toes, lips, and tongue. The development of these skills allows one to be able to complete tasks such as writing, drawing, buttoning and speech. Fine motor abilities develop over time, starting with primitive gestures such as grabbing at objects, that develop into basic grasping and manipulation skills to more precise activities that involve precise hand-eye coordination in preschool years and onwards.

The preschooler becomes quite adept in self-help, construction, holding grips, and bimanual control tasks requiring the use of both hands. When the child enters middle childhood they make great progress in their artistic abilities. They begin to express themselves through drawing, sculpting, and clay modeling.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross Motor Skills are the movements of the large muscles of the body. Activities that use large muscle groups would be running, jumping, riding bikes. Gross motor skills development may also include developing balancing and coordination skills.


Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is the ability of the vision system to coordinate the information received through the eyes to control, guide, and direct the hands in the accomplishment of a given task, such as handwriting or catching a ball


Dexterity is a term referring primarily to the ability of a person to “gracefully” coordinate their movements. It specifically refers to ability in using the hands and is therefore considered a motor skill.


Vision is the process of understanding what is seen by the eyes. It involves more than the simple visual ability to distinguish fine details. Vision also involves fixation and eye movement abilities, focusing, convergence (eye aiming), binocularity (eye teaming), and the control of hand-eye coordination. Most hand movements require visual input to be carried out effectively. For example, when children are learning to draw, they follow the position of the hand holding the pencil visually as they make lines on the paper.

Between four and 14 months of age, infants explore their world and develop hand-eye coordination, in conjunction with fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are involved in the control of small muscle movements, such as when an infant starts to use fingers with a purpose and in coordination with the eyes.


Speech is the ability to both understand and use language. The determination for achievement of this milestone will change depending on a child´s age. For example, a 12-month-old baby saying dada as his first words and know that it means daddy, a two-year-old being able to name parts of her body while pointing to it, or a five-year-old learning to say "feet" instead of "foots".

Social development

Social Development is defined as a baby/child/person´s ability to interact with others, including helping themselves and self-control.

Toddlers and children develop social skills through pretend play, dolls and plush toys that help them feel secure, puppet play and family games.  Start with cooperative games and slowly work your way to competitive games for the best developmental fun!


Cognitive development

Cognitive development is the process by which the brain develops the abilities to learn, remember and solve problems. The foundation for these abilities starts during infancy as the brain begins forming countless synapses, or connections, between brain or nerve cells. The brain is made up of neurons (nerve cells resembling long wires). When a baby is born there are relatively few connections between the neurons, and it is you and your baby´s primary task to make new ones. Connections (synapses) between brain cells are made when a baby receives stimulation. As you engage and responds to your baby, you are helping to activate the formation of synapses. The synapses will combine to form neural pathways, and the configuration of those pathways will determine the child´s ability to learn, relate to people, manage emotions, and function in the world.

Sensory Development

Infants and young children first learn about the external and internal world through their senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell as sensory information is transmitted to the brain. Sensory Integration involves the ability to take in the information gathered through the senses from the internal and external world and put it together in a meaningful way. The complex interplay between the various senses is necessary as the child learns about, acts and responds to the environment in appropriate ways. For example, a baby´s sense of sight will help him or her reach out for a rattle on the table. The sense of touch will enable him to feel for and grab the rattle and to determine how much pressure to exert to hold and shake the rattle. The sense of hearing will allow the baby to distinguish the sound made by the shaking rattle. As all of this sensory information is processed, the child learns how to interpret and respond to various environmental cues.

Developmental Milestone

A developmental milestone is a skill that a child acquires within a specific time frame. Milestones develop in a sequential fashion. This means that a child will need to develop some skills before he or she can develop new skills. For example, children must first learn to crawl and to pull up to a standing position before they are able to walk. Each milestone that a child acquires builds on the last milestone developed.