When you become a parent, you get a packaged deal of a lifetime. As a parent, you are interested in your child’s development and want to ensure that child’s progress is smooth and normal. You want to make sure that the things are on the right track. How your child learns, speaks, acts provides clues about your child’s growth. As your child grows, he or she passes through key developmental milestones at certain ages.
Parenthood is a roller coaster ride of a lifetime where you experience the joy of your baby’s first smile to the terror of watching your teenager drive off alone for the first time. Your baby’s development is like a movie, advancing slowly and steadily.
In between these huge contrasting moments, you are constantly wondering whether your kid is on the right track. Should they be toilet trained already? Shouldn’t they be walking, talking, jumping, or running by now?
Milestones are physical or behavior skills your child does as they grow. These milestones differ as age increases.
Tracking these milestones will help you check how your child is progressing. Here it is important to know that it is normal for children to learn these skills at different rates.
These milestones will also help you in identifying when your child needs a detailed checkup. Additionally, you can stay cautious about your child’s growth.
You can typically set milestones that can be big or small for appropriate behaviors, psychological development, social growth spurts, and emotional considerations.
Here in this article, we review the main types of milestones and present a complete parent’s guide to reaching the milestones for child development. This covers why milestones matter and how you can utilize them effectively to guide your parenting journey.
Why Are Child’s Developmental Milestones Important?
You can think of the child’s milestones as a checklist. They represent what your child or an average child can do around a particular age. But the exact timing of when each child will reach each milestone will vary quite a bit.
It is true that at times you might want to obsess over them. But development milestones are important because sometimes your kids might have delays in development.
However, if your child is not meeting one or more skills well after the expected range, it could be a cause for concern.
Statistics have shown that the earlier the kids get help, the more is their progress.
Milestones give you a clear set of skills to keep a watch on so you can gauge where your child stands. In addition, they also help you know what to expect next, so you can support your child’s needs.
Milestones act as markers that tell you when you can expect your child to learn new skills. These skills can be as simple as crawling, walking, and talking. Milestones give you and your doctor a standard way to track and check your child’s development.
Understanding about milestones and whether children are meeting them can help parents identify problems early or reassure them that their children are on the right track.
When you take your child for routine checkups, your child’s doctor will check on these milestones during these visits. These visits also give you a chance to ask questions or discuss concerns you might have. Your doctor can inform you – how often you need to schedule these visits.
Types of Child Developmental Milestones
By looking at the different milestones, doctors, parents, and teachers are in a better position to judge a child’s growth. You can better understand your kid’s development and watch for any potential problems.
Where it is your child’s preschool teacher or your child’s care provider – they may alert you if your child is behind their peers on a particular skill. In either case, you need to consult your doctor to evaluate your child’s activities and ways you can help them meet their milestones.
As a parent, you must be familiar with the physical milestones like sitting up, holding up their head, and grasping. However, there are a few other areas of growth you need to pay attention to as well. Your child’s milestones are identified as per their age.
In fact, developmental milestones come under four basic categories.
1 Physical Milestones
These milestones involve both large motor skills and fine motor skills. Your kid’s large motor skills are usually the first to develop. It includes activities like crawling, sitting up, standing, jumping and walking. Fine motor skills in your child involve precise movements such as grasping a spoon, picking up small objects, holding a crayon, and drawing shapes.
When your child reaches the ages of 9 to 18 months, they begin to achieve physical milestones such as turning side to side, sitting up, standing up or even early walking. Your child recognizes familiar faces as he keeps growing. For most children, these skills happen at the right age. However, some kids start walking as early as 9 months. Their body parts develop and they slowly start to recognize people at a distance. In contrast others do not take their first steps until around 14 to 15 months. As long as you child masters the skill during a given period there are no chances of any future impairments.
2 Cognitive Milestones
They cover thinking and mental skills like how your child thinks, learns, solves problems and uses reason.
Cognitive milestones are mostly centered on a child’s ability to learn, think, and solve problems. Activities related to his mind.
Your infant will learn how to respond to facial expressions and your preschooler will learn the alphabet. Both are examples of cognitive milestones. Other examples include looking for lost objects or dropped objects which involve problem-solving skills.
As your child moves through milestones for different ages, children learn more complex skills. They are always building on the skills of earlier milestones, which is why it’s important for parents to look for delays in learning.
3 Social and Emotional Milestones
Social and emotional milestones revolve around your child in gaining a better understanding of his own emotions and the emotions of others.
Social and emotional milestones are centered around your child in gaining a better understanding of his own emotions and the emotions of others.
These skills are important as they involve learning how to interact and play with other people and the development of empathy.
Some examples include expressing emotions via facial expressions and showing a preference for known people. These emotions are important; they help in forming relationships, sharing and playing with others and responding to other people’s feelings.
4 Communication and Language Milestone
This includes speaking and using body language to communicate with and understand others. These milestones involve not only language but also nonverbal communication.
One-year-old learning how to pronounce their first words and five-year-old learning some of the basic rules of grammar are a few examples of important communication milestones.
Other communication milestones are making pleasant sounds and looking toward the person who is talking to them.
Developmental Milestone Different for Every Child
Most of these milestones typically take place during a certain window of time for your child. As parents, you must remember that each child is unique.
Not all children are going to hit these milestones at the same time or age. The ranges barely give a framework for approximately when to expect certain skills to develop in your child.
Your child might reach certain milestones early, like learning and talking much earlier than their same-age peers. Other same age-group children might reach the same milestones much later. This doesn’t mean that one child is gifted or that the other child is delayed.
It only highlights the individual differences that exist in the developmental process. However, as discussed above, significant delays might point to a problem that needs an evaluation from your doctor.
Although each child is different and reaches the development milestones at their own pace, normally, they start learning the same skills at around the same time. Say, a baby typically starts crawling around 9 months.
The key point here is the milestone average of 9 months, as some can start crawling at 8 months while some start at 10 months. So, it is very important to understand that milestones should be treated as guides and not report cards. Also, you should not get paranoid or lose your sleep.
As you must note, most developmental abilities are progressive in nature, meaning more advanced skills like running usually occur after your child has started crawling and cruising. However, if any of these abilities are delayed, it will lead to cascading effects. However, in most kids, all the milestones will eventually be met with no lasting developmental issues.
If you are ever concerned about their development, check with your child’s pediatrician. You can also seek assistance online, as many options are open.
Developmental Milestones – Monitoring and Screening
Parents, grandparents, caregivers and doctors can all participate in your child’s developmental monitoring. It monitors how your child grows and changes over time and whether your kid meets the basic milestones in learning, playing, behaving, speaking, and moving.
Developmental screening keeps a closer look at how your child is developing. A missed milestone could be a warning sign. So when you take your child for a routine visit, the doctor or nurse might give your child a brief test, or you need to complete a questionnaire about your child.
If the screening tool identifies an area of concern in your child, a formal developmental evaluation may be needed. When a trained specialist takes an in-depth look at your child’s development milestones.
In a scenario, your child has a developmental delay, it is vital to get help at the earliest. If a child’s developmental delay is not identified early, the child has to wait for the help they need to do well in social and educational settings.
This is where development milestones come in handy. Right from birth, your child learns constantly – to use his voices, brains, bodies, and emotions.
By understanding your child’s development and what age range is perfect to meet them, you and your health care professional can keep a watchful eye on your child’s growth and development.
If your child has developmental delays, early intervention can help lead to more successful outcomes. Today there are multiple programs available to help kids and their parents, with delays from birth through high school.
If you want know more about Pregnancy in times of COVID-19 read our article – COVID-19 and Pregnancy: What are the risks?