Parents often worry whether their child is developing in a normal, healthy manner. Regular pediatric appointments will track physical growth and development, but parents and caregivers should monitor day-to-day progress, too.
What Are Developmental Milestones
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a list of benchmarks, or milestones, by age that help track your child’s early development. These include cognition (thinking/problem solving), motor coordination (walking, catching, drawing), social interactions (peer contact, group play) and physical development (eating, dressing, bathing). These milestones form the sequential building blocks for continued growth. While children develop at their own pace, this list helps identify any potential delays, giving you a heads up on what needs to be addressed and when.
Examples of Milestones
Movement: From birth to 3 months, your newborn should be able to raise their head, move it from side to side and push themselves up when on their stomach. By 18 months, they should be walking and undressing themselves, and by 3 years, running, climbing and even pedaling a tricycle.
Language: By 7 months, an infant should be responding to their own name, attempting to reply to you with sounds and starting to babble. By 2 years, they should be able to point to objects described to them and even string together two- to three-word sentences. By 5 years, they should be able to recall parts of a story, know their name and address and speak in longer sentences.
Social: By 3 months, most infants will begin to imitate facial expressions, including laughing and crying. By 2 years, they’ll become more independent, which may include acts of defiance. And by 5 years, they’ll be able to dance, sing and want to be like their friends.
If Your Child Misses the Benchmarks
Don’t panic. Every child is different and will follow their own path reaching these milestones, possibly even skipping over some. Take notes and observe how they are behaving. Could the delay be because they are not being given the time or the circumstances to reach them, such as not rolling over onto their back because they don’t spend a lot of time on their stomachs? Speak to your pediatrician to rule out underlying conditions or to diagnose health issues.
Delays can be the result of a variety of conditions, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, a learning disability or autism spectrum disorders. Treatment can be tailored to provide interventional services, such as physical, occupational or speech therapy, that will help your child succeed.
The No. 1 piece of advice is to enjoy your child! Play is important for encouraging brain-building and development. Sing, read and talk to your child often. Celebrate your little one’s developmental milestones and achievements. And should you notice delays, talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns. After all, nobody knows your child better than you do.
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