Difference Between a Baby, Newborn, Infant and Toddler


Babies are bundles of adoration shades of cuteness! But do you know if there is a difference in what they should be called?

The term babies’ is synonymous with the different ways people refer to really little kids. We can say that a child from birth to age 4 is a baby.

This is a widely acceptable term or slang. Have you explored the proper names to call your little ones?

Some words names include babies, newborns, infants while for older kids, toddlers, kiddies, and so on.

Our focus today is to explain and bring understanding to each of these terms, age range, general overview of their growth and development and what to expect.



 “WHO” defines a newborn as a child that’s less than 28 days old. Others refer to a newborn as a baby from birth to two months of age. During this period, the foundation for healthy growth and survival is a direct result of appropriate care and feeding.

The first few hours are critical and sensitive. Newborns demand constant attention. Since their bones are still tender, they should be carried or laid down with support to the baby’s head.

Physical closeness contributes to emotional attachment and growth between parents and the newborn. They are able to recognize the voice of their parents. Bonding occurs as parents spend quality time physically with the newborn.

The first 2 month of newborn growth and development is known as neonatal period of development.

What to Expect in Newborn?

A newborn spends about 16 hours and more sleeping each day.   Much of a newborn movements and activity are involuntary. They do not purposefully make these movements.

These movements are uncoordinated, jittery and jerky. These early reflexes include rooting, grasp, startle etc. As the nervous system begins to mature, these reflexes give way to purposeful and coordinated behaviours.

Their sense of touch is developed, and they are sensitive to pain, pressure and temperature. Since new-borns have small stomachs, they need to be fed every 2- 3 hours until they get older at around 3 months when they can go longer lengths of time between feeding.

A fun fact about them is that new-born’s do not shed real tears until around the 3rd week.  This is because their tear ducts are not fully developed. They only cry and scream without tears just to express themselves.

During this period, communication on how they feel is expressed facially and with sounds. They are able to listen and absorb the basic and distinct sounds of language. Also, their brain grows rapidly.



Infants are babies who are 0 to 12 months old. The word ‘infant’ is derived from a Latin term, ‘infans’, which means unable to speak. Babies under the age of one usually don’t speak clearly. They are young offspring of humans.

An infant can be regarded as a newborn.

What to Expect in infants?

Exclusive breastfeeding is preferred and recommended for babies in their first six months. Fussing and crying are the primary forms of communication. By their 12th month they are able to say their first words. 

Since Infants are born with a reflex, they are able to suck/extract milk from the nipples of the breasts or from a baby bottle, this behaviour is known as rooting.

As the get older, they start to sleep throughout the night and naps during the day. By the 5th month, a child doubles the birth weight, and it triples by the 12th month

At the start of the infant stage, they can probably use their head and eyes to track someone’s movement. They react to touch and respond to their mother’s voice.  They are able to interact with the world around them.

During the infancy period, babies learn to trust and bond with the parents while they develop. They learn to smile, clap, wave, pick objects up, babble, crawl, and some may start saying a few words.

By 5-6 months of age or towards the end of infancy, infants display motor skills like hands-and-kneels crawling, picking up objects with fingers and thumb, sitting and rolling over without support, standing up and walking around holding onto something. These are visible progress.

The appearance of teeth-milk teeth erupts at about 6 months through the gums which allows them to switch to human milk and soft food. This complementary food provides nutrients and immune substance.

Sweet foods are their preference and they display displeasure when given bitter, sour, or salty food.


Girls practice in the school of music. Looking at camera.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines toddler as a child between 1 to 3 years old (12 and 36 months old). However, most people regard a toddler as a baby that is advancing into pre-school.

The word ‘toddler’ comes from the word ‘toddle’. ‘Toddle’ means to walk with short uncertain steps.  In simple terms, a toddler is one that is learning to work. At this stage, the child’s motor works steadily and develop other motor skills. Early childhood begins at age 2.

What to Expect

During this time, his physical growth and motor development will slow, but you can expect to see some tremendous intellectual and emotional changes. They express wants, dissatisfaction, at this stage. They have a natural curiosity for things.

Lots of changes occurs as your toddler responds to sounds and begins uttering few words, simple phrases and sentences like mum, dad, and many more. They are able to get some understand words.

On reaching the two years, a toddler can walk alone sideways, backward, up and down the stairs on both feet. They enjoy simple games, songs, and they can start learning their alphabet. Memorization is easy for them as a result of intellectual development.

 The average toddler has reached between 53 %and 57% of his or her adult height when he or she is three years old. During the second year, they are aware of themselves and their surroundings.

Their desire to explore new objects, show greater independence, display defiant behaviour, recognize themselves in pictures or a mirror and imitate the behaviour of others, especially adults and older children.

Toddlers also should be able to follow simple instructions and directions.



Baby can be used to refer any child from birth to age four years old, thus consisting of newborn, infants, and toddlers. In fact, any young offspring is called a baby.

A newborn is a baby, and we also called the young ones a baby irrespective of their age.

In summary,

A newborn is referred to as a baby who is under or within two months old, whereas an infant is a baby under one-year-old.

A toddler is a young child over one year of age to three years while a baby is usually used for children between newborn, infants, and up to the point when they become toddlers.

And at every stage, a baby needs love and uttermost attention for proper growth and emotional development. 

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