Child development

Children develop more rapidly during the first five years of their lives than at any other time. The health visiting service will support you to help your child reach his or her full potential.

The key areas of development are physical, communication and language, and personal, social and emotional. This timeline on the NHS Choices website guides you through what you can expect as your child grows, although every child develops at a different rate.

The factsheets below from the Institute of Health Visitors contain useful information about how your child develops:

Understanding your baby

Supporting your child’s development


Developmental reviews

In Lewisham, the Trust’s health visitors will invite you and your child for a review at key stages during their development. The review will be held in one of the developmental clinics across the borough. The aim of the review is to see how your child is developing and to discuss any support you may need. (Developmental reviews are slightly different for Greenwich residents.)

If any issues are identified during the reviews, you will be referred for further assessment, intervention or monitoring.

However, you don’t have to wait until a scheduled developmental review to raise concerns about your child’s development – you can attend one of the health visitor-led child health clinics or speak to your GP.

7–11-month developmental review Before this review you will be sent an Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3™), which focuses on your child’s development in communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem-solving and personal-social. Please fill this in so that you can discuss your answers during the appointment. If you are struggling to complete the questionnaire, don’t worry – the health visitor or nursery nurse conducting the review can complete this with you.

Two–year developmental review Before this review you will be sent the same Ages and Stages Questionnaire as before, and another one that focuses on your child’s social and emotional development.


Speech and language development

Children develop communication skills from birth, and the way you talk and play with your baby can make a real difference to how they develop and learn. Children begin to understand words before they can say them. They then learn how to say these words and put them together to make sentences. It’s important to remember that children develop speech, language and communication skills at different rates.

If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language skills, contact your health visitor.

Below are links to factsheets from the Talking Point website, which contain lots of useful information about children’s speech and language development at different ages.

Tips for Talking: 3-4 Years


Toilet training

Most parents start thinking about potty training when their child is between two and two and a half, but there’s no perfect time. ERIC (The Enuresis Resource and Information Centre) has devised a leaflet to help you recognise when your child is ready for toilet training and how to make a success of it.

ERIC’s guide to potty training


Children’s centres

You can access a range of information and support at your local children’s centre. For timetables and locations, see the links below:

Children’s centres in Lewisham

Children’s centres in Greenwich