When you become a parent, you always want to make sure that your baby is reaching the right milestone, and you want to watch for signs your baby is developing properly. Of course, every baby is going to be unique, but if you have a general understanding of these early milestones, it helps you know whether or not you should speak with your doctor.
Children reach developmental milestones when they’re crawling and walking, speaking, learning, and even playing.
If certain milestones aren’t met, early intervention can help.
The following are some of the general things new parents should know about the topic, particularly for new parents who are still in the baby years.
General Information About Developmental Milestones
Developmental milestones can include a baby taking their first step or learning to say bye-bye or mama. Every child develops at their own pace, but developmental milestones can be used as a general guideline.
You can also talk with your partner or spouse, grandparents, and other caregivers about developmental monitoring. Developmental monitoring is a term that simply refers to observing your child’s growth and changes over time.
Developmental screening is another term parents should be aware of. This means that a deeper look may be taken as far as how a child is developing. If there’s a milestone your child has missed, you should speak with your doctor and they might delve into a development screening which includes a test or questionnaire.
If something is discovered during a developmental screening, a more in-depth developmental evaluation may be completed.
Your role as a parent as far as helping your child with developmental milestones is really just to help provide a healthy and supportive environment. You can help your child by predictably responding to them, showing warmth, and establishing routines.
You can also talk with even very young babies, read books, and use discipline when appropriate without being too harsh.
By the time your child is two months old, you may be able to start seeing changes in how they interact with you and their environment.
Things that are considered two-month development milestones for babies include:
- Starting to smile at people
- May be able to briefly self-soothe by sucking on hand or fingers for example
- Starts to look around for a parent
- Makes gurgling sounds
- Turns head in response to sounds
- Focuses and pays attention to faces
- Follows things with their eyes, and recognizes people from a distance
- Physically a two-month-old might start to hold their head up and push up when laying on their stomach
At this age, you might speak with your doctor or health care provider if your child isn’t responding to loud sounds, isn’t watching things as they move, or isn’t smiling at people.
By six months, your baby may start to realize familiar faces and know when someone is a stranger. Six-month-old babies may start to like playing with people and especially their parents, and they respond to the emotions of people around them. Other six-month milestones might include:
- Your baby may look at themselves in the mirror
- Response to sounds with their own sounds
- Stringing vowels together
- Responding to their name
- Making sounds of joy or unhappiness
- Starting consonant sounds
- Bringing things to their mouth
- Passing items from one hand to the other
- Roll over in both directions
- Sitting without support
- Puts weight on legs when standing with support
- Rocking back and forth
Signs developmental milestones aren’t being reached at six months include not showing affecting toward parents and key caregivers and not responding to sounds.
Other things to talk to your child’s health care provider about include not reaching for things that are within reach, having problems getting things to the mouth and not laughing or showing signs of happiness or joy.
By nine months, your baby will start to be clingy with familiar adults, and that’s normal and healthy, as is being afraid of strangers. A baby at this age will often understand the word “no” and have favorite toys.
Other nine-month milestones can include:
- Making many different sounds
- Replicating the gestures and sounds of others
- Pointing at objects
- Follows the path of things when they fall
- Plays peek-a-boo
- Picks up small food items like cereal between the thumb and index finger
- Starts to stand while holding on
- Can bring themselves to a sitting position and sits without support
- Pulls up
If your child doesn’t sit with help around nine months or bear weight on their legs with support, you should speak with your doctor.
If your child isn’t babbling or doesn’t recognize familiar people these may also be reasons to talk to your pediatrician about developmental milestones.
One-Year Developmental Milestones
By the time your child is one they should be upset when you or your partner leave, and nervous with strangers. A one-year-old will have favorite toys as well as favorite people and will start to exhibit signs of being fearful in certain situations.
A one-year-old may give you a book when they want you to read to them, and they may do certain things to get your attention, such as repeating sounds.
A one-year-old should respond to simple requests that you say to them and use simple gestures like waving bye-bye.
By this time, your baby may start trying to say the words you say and will put out arms and legs to help with getting dressed.
If by one your child isn’t crawling or standing when supported, speak with your pediatrician. Other things to watch for include not searching for things that your baby sees you hide and not saying single, simple words like mama and dada.
In most cases, your child’s pediatrician should go over developmental milestones with you during visits and checkups, and there are also apps you can use that will help you monitor milestones and make sure your baby is on track.