Developmental milestones are behaviors or physical skills seen in infants and children as they grow and develop. Rolling over, crawling, walking, and talking are all considered milestones. The milestones are different for each age range.
There is a normal range in which a child may reach each milestone. When we talk about child development, we often speak of milestones that children hit at certain ages.
A developmental milestone is an ability that is achieved by most children by a certain age. Developmental milestones can involve physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and communication skills such as walking, sharing with others, expressing emotions, recognizing familiar sounds, and talking.
There are four basic categories for developmental milestones:
Physical milestones: involve both large-motor skills and fine-motor skills. The large-motor skills are usually the first to develop and include sitting up, standing, crawling, and walking. Fine-motor skills involve precise movements such as grasping a spoon, holding a crayon, drawing shapes, and picking up small objects.
Cognitive milestones: are centered on a child's ability to think, learn, and solve problems. An infant learning how to respond to facial expressions and a preschooler learning the alphabet are both examples of cognitive milestones.
Social and emotional milestones: are centered on children gaining a better understanding of their own emotions and the emotions of others. These milestones also involve learning how to interact and play with other people.
Communication milestones: involve both language (verbal and nonverbal communications).
A one-year-old learning how to say his first words and a five-year-old learning some of the basic rules of grammar are examples of important communication milestones.
While most of these milestones typically take place during a certain window of time, there is one important caveat. Parents and caregivers must remember that each child is unique.
Not all kids are going to hit these milestones at the same time. Some children might hit certain milestones very early, such as learning how to walk or talk much earlier than their same-age peers. Other children might reach these developmental milestones much later. These differences do not necessarily mean that one child is gifted or that another is delayed; they simply represent the individual differences that exist in the developmental process.
Developmental abilities also tend to build on one another. More advanced skills such as walking usually occur after simpler abilities such as crawling and sitting up have already been achieved.
Just because one child began to walk by eleven months of age does not mean that another child is "behind" if he still is not walking at 12 months. A child generally begins to walk anytime between the ages of 9 and 15 months, so anytime between those ages is considered normal.
If a child is over 15 months and still cannot walk, the parents might consider consulting with a doctor or developmental specialist to determine if some type of developmental issue is present.
By understanding these developmental milestones, caregivers and health care professionals can keep a watchful eye on children's growth. When potential problems are spotted, earlier interventions can help lead to more successful outcomes.
They can tell you if your child is a little behind.
Sometimes a child might be a little behind. That’s ok. Every child grows and changes at his or her own pace and a lot of times there are things you can do at home to help them catch up!
With the child that is a little bit behind, it is important to make sure that they don’t get too far behind. Sometimes being behind is a sign of something more. Sometimes it can be a sign of something easy to fix or sometimes it’s something more serious.
Here are a few examples:
Depending on how far behind your child may be or depending on the type of milestones they are missing, your doctor may be able to tell you exactly what is going on with your child.
They can help you get early intervention and therapy.
If your child does have developmental delays, they may be eligible for early intervention or therapy.
They can help you get your child a diagnosis.
If your child is more than just a little behind, then the number one thing the doctors and specialists are going to look at are the developmental milestones. They will want to know how far behind they are, which ones they have trouble with, and what specific areas they are behind in. With a diagnosis your child can get the help and therapy they need to thrive!
Your baby can't focus farther than 8 to 12 inches away – just the right distance for her to gaze at your face.
Baby’s emotional skills will begin to develop.
Baby no longer considered a newborn. Baby is becoming more alert and eager to explore world around her.
Baby is building many skills that will form the foundation for bigger skills that will pop up later on the milestone chart.
Baby is ready to start accomplishing some huge development milestones especially immobility.
Watch Carole talk about these milestones during her Facebook live broadcast:PARTS 1 & 2
More About The Author:
Carole is president and founder of Boston Baby Nurse and Nanny™ providing overnight and daytime newborn care and a wide range of postpartum support services. Her latest book, Newborn 101, includes more valuable information about caring for newborns including multiples and preterm babies.
For over a decade Arsenault has guided parents through pregnancy, labor, birth and the newborn period at Boston’s top birthing hospitals including Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, St Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Mount Auburn Hospital. As a parent educator, labor and delivery nurse, and lactation consultant she has shared her expertise on sleep, schedules, soothing, calming and infant development with hundreds of parents as they transition into their new roles. Carole continues to support and educate families through Boston Baby Nurse and Nanny and though professional speaking on topics such as creating a safe “green” home for baby and essential newborn secrets from a baby nurse.
Arsenault provides weekly pregnancy and baby advice on her blog, contributes monthly maternal and newborn health advice to BOSTONMamas.com, is a contributor for The Bump.com, and has been featured as a expert on Fox News Boston. To see Carole’s latest media appearances, press and contributing articles click here.
Carole resides in the Boston area with her husband and three school-aged children.
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