Growth and Development

Growth and Development for Babies and Toddlers

Do you want to know if your baby or toddler is developing well? To understand your child's development, have a look at the tools and information below.  

Screening Tools

These tools will help you to see areas in your child's development that may need more attention. They will also give you a list of activities and/or suggestions to help improve these areas.

  • The Looksee Checklist® (formerly Nipissing District Developmental Screen®-NDDS) is a short and simple checklist. It reviews your child's growth and development at a specific age (up to 6 years old).
  • The First Words Communication Checkup is an online screening tool available to families of children aged 6 months to 5 years living in the city of Ottawa. Use it to check your child’s speech, language, social communication, fine and gross motor skills.
  • The Healthy Smiles for Young Children (18 to 36 months) (PDF) screening tool can help to detect dental problems. It allows you to get treatment for your child sooner. Dental health is important for your child's health and school readiness.

Remember to book an 18 Month Well-Baby Visit with your healthcare provider!


Babies and toddlers have a lot of emotions. As a parent, it is important to recognize your child's emotions at each stage. In fact, this is just as important as knowing when your child is able to walk and talk. Research has shown that bonding and attachment relate to a child's emotional development.

Visit Best Start - The On Track Guide (PDF) to better understand your child's emotional development.


From birth, your child can communicate. How they communicate changes over time as they learn new skills of language and speech. You can learn how to understand and answer these cues. You can teach your child language and speech skills as they grow.

Visit Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services or Best Start - The On Track Guide (PDF) to learn more.

Visit the First Words Communication Checkup to screen for speech, language, social communication, fine and gross motor skills.


The early years of your baby's life are important in developing their language for communication. Most children can hear right from birth and learn to talk by copying the sounds and voices around them. Unfortunately, this is not the case for every child. In these cases, children must learn speech and language in a different way. It is important to identify hearing loss as early as possible.

Visit Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services or Best Start - The On Track Guide (PDF) to learn more about your child's hearing.

Fine Motor

Fine motor skills use small muscle movements, usually involving the hands and fingers. When your baby picks up food with their finger and thumb or when your toddler stacks two or three blocks, these are fine motor skills. These skills are important as they support many other physical and mental aspects.

Visit Best Start - The On Track Guide (PDF) to learn more about your child's fine motor skills.

Gross Motor

Gross motor skills use large muscle movements. When your baby starts bringing their hands together or when your toddler begins to run, these are gross motor skills. These skills are important for your child's physical literacy.

Physical literacy is the foundation of an active life. Babies and toddlers need to learn movement skills like rolling over, walking and jumping. As they grow and develop, they will then be able to combine these skills into more complex movements, like running and kicking a ball. Physically literate children like to take part in physical activity because they know how to move well and with confidence. Set your child up to be healthy and active for life.

Visit Best Start - The On Track Guide (PDF) to learn more about your child's gross motor skills.


Cognitive skills allow children to carry out tasks, both big and small. When your baby follows a moving object with their eyes or when your toddler does pretend play, they are using cognitive skills. These skills are best developed through play and help to promote school readiness.

Visit Best Start - The On Track Guide (PDF) to learn more about your child's cognitive skills.

For more resources, visit Baby and Toddler Resources in Ottawa.

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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