Today I’m going to talk about a more serious topic: child developmental milestones and delays. We all want our young ones to grow up strong and healthy. But what about those times when we are noticing our child isn’t meeting toddler milestones or isn’t as far a long as his/her classmates? What are some of the factors we should be on the alert for? What should we do? Hopefully, I’m going to be able to answer a few of those questions as well as provide resourceful resources to help you and your family!
Before I jump right into the guide, it’s important to know every child develops at different rates. This guides purpose is to provide indicators that will help you identify possible delays as well as a starting point to see if your child is on the right track. Also, it is important as a caregiver to be well informed about developmental milestones, what to look for, and know when to start talking to specialists.
Child Development Milestones
Photo Credit: cdc.gov
First, what does it mean when someone refers to child development? According to the University of Michigan Health System, it refers to the process of a child’s ability to perform complex tasks. So, what do professionals look at? Development consists of gross motor skills, fine motor, language, cognitive, and social skills.
- Gross motor skills are a child’s ability to use large muscle groups to sit, stand, walk, run, balancing, changing positions, etc.
- Fine motor skills are a child’s ability to use their hands to eat, draw, dress, play, write, etc.
- Language is the child’s ability to speak, use body language and gestures, communicate and understand what others are saying.
- Cognitive is a child’s ability to use their thinking skills such as learning, understanding, problem-solving, reasoning, remembering, etc.
- Social is a child’s ability to interact with others, have relationships with family, friends, teachers, cooperating, and responding to the feelings of others (i.e you begin to cry, they try to comfort you).
What do specialists mean when they are talking about developmental milestones?
According to the University of Michigan Health Service Systems, they are referring to established skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.
Important Note: Always talk to your child’s doctor if you are seeing anything that raises suspicions, no matter how silly you think it may be or inconsequential. Do not be worried about bothering your Pediatrician-they’ll tell you whether or not you should be concerned. The earlier you catch something the better! Acting early can make a huge difference.
Baby Milestones Guide
I’ve compiled an extensive guide of milestones from HealthyChildren to look for as well as key indicators to be aware of so you know when to talk to your pediatrician.
To see the entire list click the link of each month/age.
- Strong reflex movements
- Keeps hands in tight fists
- Moves head from side to side while lying on stomach
- Brings hands within range of eyes and mouth
- Recognizes some sounds
- Prefers the human face to all other patterns
- Prefers sweet smells
- Recognizes the scent of his own mother’s breastmilk
Talk to your pediatrician if:
- Sucks poorly and feeds slowly
- Doesn’t blink when shown a bright light
- Doesn’t focus and follow a nearby object moving side to side
- Rarely moves arms and legs
- Seems excessively loose in the limbs
- Lower jaw trembles constantly, even when not crying or excited
- Doesn’t respond to loud sounds
- Raises head and chest when lying on stomach
- Supports upper body with arms when lying on stomach
- Opens and shuts hands
- Brings hand to mouth
- Takes swipes at dangling objects with hands
- Grasps and shakes hand toys
- Watches faces intently
- Follows moving objects
- Smiles at the sound of you voice
- Begins to babble
- Imitates some sounds
- Turns head toward direction of sound
- Begins to develop a social smile
- Becomes more communicative and expressive with face and body
Talk to your pediatrician if:
- Doesn’t seem to respond to loud sounds
- Doesn’t notice her hands by two months
- Doesn’t smile at the sound of your voice by two months
- Doesn’t follow moving objects with her eyes by two to three months
- Doesn’t grasp and hold objects by three months
- Doesn’t smile at people by three months
- Cannot support her head well at three months
- Doesn’t reach for and grasp toys by three to four months
- Doesn’t babble by three to four months
- Doesn’t bring objects to her mouth by four months
- Begins babbling, but doesn’t try to imitate any of your sounds by four months
- Doesn’t push down with her legs when her feet are placed on a firm surface by four months
- Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions
- Crosses her eyes most of the time (Occasional crossing of the eyes is normal in these first months.)
- Doesn’t pay attention to new faces, or seems very frightened by new faces or surroundings
- Still has the tonic neck reflex at four to five months
- Responds to you calling his/her name by turning his/her head
- Smiles back at you
- Responds to sound by making sounds
- Sits without support for a short time
- Likes social play i.e peek-a-boo
Toddler Milestones Guide
- Gets to sitting position without assistance
- Crawls forward on belly by pulling with arms and pushing with legs
- Uses simple gestures i.e shaking head for “no” or waving “bye-bye”
- Pulls up to stand
- Walks holding on to furniture
- Uses pincer grasp
- Uses simple gestures i.e shaking head for “no”
- Pays increasing attention to speech
- Responds to simple verbal requests i.e “no”
- Says “mama” and “dada”
- Uses exclamations i.e “oh-oh!”
- Tries to imitate words
- Explores objects using different methods i.e shaking, banging, throwing
- Finds hidden objects easily
- Imitates gestures i.e clapping when you clap
- Looks at correct picture when the image is named
- Begins to use objects correctly i.e drinking from a cup, dialing a phone, brushing hair
- Cries when mother or father leaves
- Shows preferences for certain people and toys
- Tests parental responses to his behavior and actions
- Finger-feeds herself/himself
Talk to your pediatrician if:
- Does not crawl
- Drags one side of body while crawling (for over one month)
- Cannot stand when supported
- Does not search for objects that are hidden while he watches
- Says no single words (“mama” or “dada”)
- Does not learn to use gestures, such as waving or shaking head
- Does not point to objects or pictures
- Plays pretend i.e talking on a toy phone
- Points to interesting things
- Uses several single words to get what she/he wants
- Walks without help
- Looks at something when you point to it and say “look”
- Uses 2-4 word phrases
- Shows more interest in other children
- Follows simple instructions
- Can kick a ball
- Points to something when you name it i.e to a toy or picture
- Walks alone
- Begins to run
- Climbs onto and down from furniture unassisted
- Scribbles spontaneously
- Points to objects or pictures when it’s names
- Recognizes names of familiar people, objects, and body parts
- Says several single words by fifteen to eighteen months
- Uses simple phrases by eighteen to twenty-four months
- Repeats words overheard in conversations
- Finds objects when hidden under two or three covers
- Begins to sort by shapes and colors
- Imitates behavior of others
- Increasingly aware of herself as separate from others
- Begins to show defiant behaviors
- Increasing episodes of separation anxiety toward midyear, then they fade
Talk to your pediatrician if:
- Cannot walk by eighteen months
- Fails to develop a mature heel-toe walking pattern after several months of walking, or walks exclusively on his toes
- Does not speak at least fifteen words by eighteen months
- Does not use two-word sentences by age two
- Does not seem to know the function of common households objects i.e brush, telephone, bell, fork, spoon) by fifteen months
- Does not imitate actions or words by the end of this period
- Does not follow simple instructions by age two
- Cannot push a wheeled toy by age two
What should I do if I notice a developmental delay?
Don’t panic. If you have concerns that your child may not be meeting toddler milestones or be having developmental delays, it is important to contact their care provider or contact a developmental and behavioral pediatrician or pediatric neurologist. Also, it is important to have your child seen by a specialist immediately if you notice your child is regressing. For example, if you start to notice your child is unable to do things they were able to do in the past. The sooner your child is diagnosed if they are developmentally delayed, the better. Here’s a helpful check-list and step by step guide to get you started.
I hope this post helps you feel a little bit more informed on child developmental milestones and delays, and serves as a tool to guide you and your family. Additionally, here are a few resources for supplementary information as well as information in care taking for 3-18 year olds.
Do you have any helpful resources for parents with children with developmental delays? Leave your comments below.
Zero To Three is a nonprofit organization that provides parents, professionals, and policymakers the resources and the know-how to nurture early development and is the leading source for Child Development ages 0-3.
Head Start is a nationally recognized community-based program for three-five year olds that provide a school readiness program. The website and program provides information on education, health, nutrition, social and other services to enrolled families.
*Important Note: I’m not a professional. The opinions expressed are solely my own and the information comes from research I’ve compiled about Child Development milestones and delays. If your baby shows any developmental delays, notify your pediatrician. The information contained on this blog post should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.