Skills such as smiling or speaking are marked by stages of growth, also known as developmental milestones and children reach them at their own pace. The first year of a baby’s life is marked by a series of benchmarks for each new stage of development. Children meet milestones in how they learn, behave, play, move, and speak. As new parents, we often wonder what to expect and how to know if our child’s development is on target.
I know when my son was born, I was anxious to track his development and would anticipate each new milestone as they approached. Each month brought new and exciting developments and of course with that came worries. With each newly acquired skill, I would celebrate by ticking it off on a checklist and breathe in a sigh of relief. I liked having these tools to chart and track each new stage of growth and development, however, I often had to remind myself that there are variations in which children will progress at. Keep these variations in mind and acknowledge that there are “ranges of normal” for a baby to reach a particular developmental stage. The important thing to remember is the progression of skills. As long as your baby keeps learning new things, you shouldn’t be too concerned. Try to keep in mind that all babies develop at their own pace, instead of focusing too much on these developmental milestones.
Another thing to understand is that all babies are by no means identical. As such, they also grow in their own unique way. If your baby reaches one milestone sooner, they may reach another one later. For example, the baby who starts to crawl first, might be one of the last to learn how to walk. It could just be that your baby is too busy perfecting another skill and will get to the other one in due time. That is precisely why it is important to understand that each milestone is intended to serve as a guide, not a source to cause you concern. Babies develop skills differently, some more quickly than others, but if you child is lagging behind significantly, discuss it with your doctor.
Keep in mind that premature babies may reach milestones later than their peers. It is important to use your child’s adjusted age when tracking his development. To find your baby’s adjusted age, count the number of weeks between his birth date and his due date, and subtract that amount of time from her current age.
Click here if you would like to print a PDF checklist Developmental Milestone.
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www.cdc.gov/parents/infants/miletsones.html (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)