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Child Development Vocab

Antenatal care

The care given to a pregnant mother and her unborn baby during pregnancy and ahead of the birth.


An end product of children’s creativity that can be kept, such as a drawing, painting or model.

Associative play

When children communicate and play with the same type of toy or activity.

Attention span

The amount of time for which a child can concentrate on a particular activity.

Barrier method

A method of contraception in which a device or preparation prevents sperm from reaching an egg.

Birth partner

Someone who will attend antenatal classes and support the mother throughout pregnancy and the birth.

Caesarean section

An operation in which a surgeon delivers a child by cutting through the wall of the mother’s abdomen.


The giving and receiving of information.

Co-operative play

When children play together, actively working towards a common goal.

Creative play

When children express themselves by creatively responding to something that sparks their imagination.

Diagnostic test

Used to diagnose certain medical conditions in an unborn baby.


Being able to conceive children.

Fine motor skills

The small, delicate, manipulative movements children make with their fingers.

Gross motor skills

The large movements children make with their whole bodies.

Hand-eye co-ordination

Using the vision system to control, guide and direct the hands to carry out a manipulative task.


A hazard is an item or situation that could cause harm to a child.

Hormonal method

A method of contraception in which hormones prevent eggs from being released from the ovaries, thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, and thin the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation.

Inclusive activity

An activity in which everyone can join in, including disabled children or children with additional needs.


Not being able to conceive children after 12 months (or more) of regular unprotected sex.

Intellectual development

The development of the way the child’s brain processes information received from surroundings and other people.


An intellectual development skill that requires children to understand the communications of others, and what they want to communicate themselves.


The ability to read and write (young children will be developing this ability).

Manipulative play

Physical play involving delicate, operational movements made with the fingers.


The ability to recognise, understand and work with numbers (young children will be developing this ability).


The nourishment that comes from the food we eat.


The process of watching and recording a child’s behaviour to assess and track their learning and development.

Parallel play

When children play alongside one another but do not play together.

Physical development

The development of gross motor skills (large movements) and fine motor skills (small, delicate movements).

Physical play

Activities in which children use their manipulative of gross motor skills, develop balance or co-ordination, develop the senses or exercise the body and limbs (promoting fitness).


After birth.


A condition causing high BP in pregnancy and after labour. It must be monitored closely and can be serious if not treated.


The likelihood of a hazard actually causing harm.

Screening test

Identifies whether an unborn baby is more or less likely to have certain conditions at birth.


When a child has a feeling of belief and trust in their own ability.


When a child has a sense of self-worth or personal value.


Sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch.

Social development

The development of the ways in which children experience and learn to handle their own emotions and relationships with others.

Solitary play

When a child plays alone.


A process or a period of change from one state or condition to another, when young children usually need support, e.g. moving from a bed to a cot, starting to eat solid foods, starting pre-school, sleeping in their own bedroom.

Transition stage

This links the end of the first stage of labour and the beginning of the second stage of labour.


The process of introducing babies to solid foods.

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