Stages of Human Growth – Birth to Adulthood Study Guide


“Growth is the only evidence of life.” – John Henry Newman

Growth and development are constant in our life. Remember the height and weight chart in the hospital, which is done every time once the child is born? From the time a child is born, the physician needs to keep track of the baby’s height and weight, motor skills and vocabulary.

Definition of Growth and Development

  • The growth in a human body represents the increase in size and weight.
  • Development in a human being refers to cognitive development.

Human growth and development can not be the same in every child as each child is unique but in many ways similar.

So, the theory of human development and growth can be generalized as per which there is a sequence in development and growth patterns.

Stages of Growth and Development

The food we eat helps us in developing our bodies. As we grow, the cycle of development and growth starts, which leads us to our next question: what are the different developmental stages of humans?


There are six stages in a human life cycle which are as follows:

  1. Foetus: When a woman is pregnant, the child is in foetus form, dependent on the female body. All it requires to develop, like oxygen, food, and nutrition, comes from the female body.

  2. Infancy: The foetus is fully developed by 9 months and is born. The (now) infant is dependent on its parents. Slowly, the infant learns to cry and make sounds.

  3. Toddler years: When babies start walking; they are no longer infants. The infant is now called a toddler. During this age, cognitive and emotional development begins.

  4. Childhood: By now, motor skills are developed, and the child is more independent to do day-to-day work.

  5. Adolescence: The child turns into an adolescent, and more physical changes are visible. These changes can be hair growth, breast growth in female adolescents, and change in voice in male adolescents.

  6. Adulthood: Adulthood is the age when the child has become an adult and can reproduce.

Sometimes, 5 stages of human growth and development are divided as follows as per the age:

  1. Infancy: Up to 1 year
  2. Toddler: One to five years
  3. Childhood: Three to eleven years
  4. Adolescence: Twelve to nineteen years (also known as teen years)
  5. Adulthood: Twenty years till death



Development in the Human Body

The development in the human body can be defined as maturation and learning.

  • The maturation of a human being starts when the child can walk and talk some meaningful words.

  • Learning also helps in developing a human being. Learning is a collection of various experiences a human being has during their life.

  • These experiences make permanent changes in a human being and thus help in cognitive development.

Erikson was an ego psychologist and developed a theory on stages of psychosocial development. His theory has 8 stages of human development, which are as follows:

  • Psychosocial Stage 1-Trust vs. Mistrust:

The first stage is from the moment the baby is born till they become 18 months old. At this stage, the babies are completely dependent on their parents. Babies who learn to trust their parents can make trusting relationships in their life. The trust at this stage is built by feeding the babies, comforting them, and of course, with love and affection.

  • Psychosocial Stage 2-Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt:

The second stage starts from 18 months to 2-3 years. This stage is the first step towards being independent. The child starts making choices for their clothes or toys. The encouragement from the parents can lead to a confident child. Parents who are not very supportive of their children by punishing them for their mistakes lead them to self-doubt or shame.

  • Psychosocial Stage 3-Initiative vs. guilt:

As per Erikson, the third stage starts from three and remains until the age of five. The children who have completed the above two stages are more confident and independent. The encouragement given by the parents at this stage can lead them to explore their abilities. The children can form a sense of direction and ambition.

  • Psychosocial Stage 4- Industry vs. Inferiority:

This stage occurs from six to eleven. The child starts going to school and dealing with many people such as classmates, teachers, etc. A sense of comparison builds in, and the child compares themselves with the other children. This leads to creating self-esteem in the children.

  • Psychosocial Stage 5- Identity vs. Role Confusion:

The age of twelve to eighteen when a child enters into teens is the fifth stage as per Erikson. The ego identity enters into a child’s life. As per Erikson, identity is described as a “fundamental organizing principle which constantly develops throughout the lifespan.” Confidence building and a sense of independence some with the formation of identity in a human being.

  • Psychosocial Stage 6- Intimacy vs. Isolation:

This stage occurs from nineteen to forty. The conflict at this stage in a human being’s life inclines towards love and relationships. The person looks for a deep and meaningful relationship, and in case that doesn’t happen, the situation can lead to stress and depression.



  • Psychosocial Stage 7- Generativity vs. Stagnation:

This stage starts at forty and goes on till sixty-five. At this stage, the human being who can complete all the previous stages successfully thinks more about giving back to society. They create positive relationships. Failure to complete the previous stages will lead to stagnation, giving lower quality relationships and less life satisfaction.

  • Psychosocial Stage 8- Integrity vs. Despair:

This is the final stage which starts at the age of sixty-five and ends with death. In the last stage, the human being can feel bitter, fulfilled, or accepted as per the experiences of the previous stages.

As per Erikson’s theory, human beings have a chance to redeem themselves at every stage only if they work towards it.


  • The concept of human growth and development is an ever-changing topic.

  • The generalized theories help, but new problems also arise h every new technological improvement.

  • For example, the usage of mobile phones and the internet has become a major concern, and scientists are finding new effects of them on children every single day.

  • But whatever may come in this world, human growth and development will have six stages which are as follows:

    • Fetus
    • Infancy
    • Toddler years
    • Childhood
    • Adolescence
    • Adulthood


1. What are the stages from birth to adulthood?

The stages from birth to adulthood are infancy, toddler years, childhood, and adolescence.

2. What are the 8 developmental stages of human life?

The eight developmental stages of human life suggested by Erikson’s theory are:

  1. Stage 1 — Infancy: Trust vs. Mistrust
  2. Stage 2 — Toddlerhood: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
  3. Stage 3 — Preschool Years: Initiative vs. Guilt
  4. Stage 4 — Early School Years: Industry vs. Inferiority
  5. Stage 5 — Adolescence: Identity vs. Role Confusion
  6. Stage 6 — Young Adulthood: Intimacy vs. Isolation
  7. Stage 7 — Middle Adulthood: Generativity vs. Stagnation
  8. Stage 8 — Old Adulthood: Integrity vs. Despair

3. What are the 5 stages of human growth?

The five stages of human growth:

  1. Infancy: Up to 1 year
  2. Toddler: One to five years
  3. Childhood: Three to eleven years
  4. Adolescence: Twelve to nineteen years, also known as teen years
  5. Adulthood: Twenty years till death

4. What are the six stages in the human life cycle?

The six stages in the human life cycle

  1. Fetus
  2. Infancy
  3. Toddler years
  4. Childhood
  5. Adolescence
  6. Adulthood

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Continue your learning journey:

1.Asexual Reproduction2. Principals of Inheritance and Variation


  1. Birth to Adulthood. Accessed on 1 Dec 2021.
  3. The Human Life Cycle. Accessed on 1 Dec 2021
  4. Stages of Growth Child Development. Accessed on 1 Dec 2021.
  5. What Is Human Development and Why Is It Important?. Accessed on 1 Dec 2021.

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