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. Next to feeding, parents worry most about their baby’s development. If your baby had a difficult start, spent time in a NICU, or has a chronic condition or disability, you may be especially concerned about your child’s growth and development.
There is a normal range in which a child may reach each milestone. For example, walking may begin as early as eight months in some children. Others walk as late as 18 months and it is still considered normal. Most babies grow in a fairly predictable pattern. But the timing of behaviors can vary widely between children, even brothers and sisters.
One of the reasons for well-child visits to the health care provider in the early years is to follow your child’s development. Most parents also watch for different milestones. Developmental milestones are only guidelines. Your baby’s health care provider will evaluate your baby’s development at each well-baby visit. But remember that you know your baby best. Always talk to the health care provider if you think your baby is lagging behind in one or more areas of development.
Closely watching a “checklist” or calendar of developmental milestones may trouble parents if their child is not developing normally. At the same time, milestones can help to identify a child who needs a more detailed check-up. Research has shown that the sooner the developmental services are started, the better the outcome. Examples of developmental services include: speech therapy, physical therapy, and developmental preschool. If your baby was born prematurely, you will need to look at the milestone guidelines a little differently. The age at which your baby is expected to reach various milestones is based on her due date. So use your baby’s adjusted age when looking at the milestones.
Just remember, there are many different normal paces and patterns of development.
Sherry Eagle is the Meigs County WIC Director.