Have you noticed that your child is not growing or developing at the same pace as other kids? While all children are different, most of them develop along a similar progression. Children reach developmental milestones from the time they are infants. These milestones represent the age at which most children begin a certain skill, such as walking or talking. If your child seems behind in comparison to other kids, they will most likely catch up at their own speed, but it is best to be aware of delays so that you know when to contact a professional.
There are many areas of development of which to be aware. Gross motor skills involve walking, running, and moving large muscles. Fine motor skills involve feeding, picking up items with your hands, and getting dressed. Language skills involve both speaking and understanding what others are saying. Cognitive skills involve problem solving and memory. Finally, social and emotional skills involve sharing, interacting well with other people, and understanding other’s feelings.
While some children are delayed in one area, some may have difficulty with multiple areas. For example, an 18 month old may not be walking, is only saying “mama,” and does not feed him or herself would be considered to have multiple delays .
You can help your child’s overall development by playing with them on a daily basis. You can never play too much and you don’t need expensive toys for your child to learn. Read to them. Get your child on a routine. Be aware of developmental milestones and when to consult your pediatrician.
Here is a quick checklist for your young child to make sure they are on track with their development.
Newborn: Beginning to lift head, tolerates tummy time, and is reacting appropriately to sights and sounds.
Three month old: Smiling, beginning to babble, tracking objects moved in front of face, pushing up on arms, and beginning to grasp objects.
Four to seven month old: Will babble and giggle with you, grasp objects, sit unassisted, and begin to eat solid foods.
Eight to 12 month old: Crawling, pulling up on furniture, cruising along furniture, drinking from a cup, eating finger foods, saying his first few words, and will use gestures such as pointing.
As your baby becomes a toddler, they will begin climbing stairs with your help, kicking balls, climbing on furniture, saying many words and short sentences, following simple directions, scribbling on paper, becoming more independent, playing appropriately with his peers, and learning to use the toilet. Between two and three years, your child will be using hundreds of words; playing make-believe games such as with baby dolls; identifying animals, colors, shapes, and foods; completing simple puzzles; and will assist in getting dressed and other self-help skills.
If you are concerned about your child’s development, first contact his or her pediatrician. They can refer you to local services and support. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help for your child, the earlier the better. There are many people in the community who will help you. Service coordinators, therapists, teachers, everyone is educated and willing to help you and your child. In North Carolina, children are referred to the Children’s Developmental Services Agency. This agency will organize and simplify all of your child’s goals for reaching milestones and the services needed to do so.
Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist
While I have had many roles at Partners In Learning since I began in 2009, I currently serve as an Infant-Toddler Family Specialist. My bachelor’s degree is in psychology, specialized in child development. I work with infants and toddlers in the community who have either developmental delays or an established condition, such as Autism or Down Syndrome. The one thing I want to express more than any other is how important playing with your children is. Your child learns best while they are playing and it is vital to encourage and foster various skills that your child gains from play activities. Play with your child, if only for a few minutes, every day!