Your Baby's Development and Important Milestones
From the moment you bring your newborn home from the hospital, you will anticipate all of those firsts. You don’t want to miss a single one. Not only is the anticipation of watching your child grow exciting, but it is also critical to identify key stages and know when to expect them to ensure you are able to recognize your child’s needs, regarding health and development.
Why Developmental Milestones Are Important
All children reach certain milestones at different times because they learn skills at varied paces. Therefore, there’s no way of knowing exactly what age a child will walk, talk, wave, etc. However, the developmental milestones provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention help parents gauge when their child should be doing certain functions.
Supporting the healthiest development of your children means making sure they get each of their needs met — whether that is social, medical, educational or otherwise. If a child has not reached milestones around the same age as most children, it could be a sign that he or she will need special attention in certain areas.
Here is a closer look at the primary milestones in the three main parts of a child’s development.
Hearing and Understanding
Early on, developmental milestones should start to be detected. Somewhere between birth and 3 months old, you should notice your infant reacting to loud noises and calming down when someone talks to him or her. Babies may also begin recognizing their parents’ voices.
At 4 to 6 months old, babies should be in tune with sounds around them. Examples can include enjoying toys that make noise, seeming alert when music plays, and following sounds with their eyes.
Between 7 months and 1 year old, children should attempt to imitate certain sounds, turn to look when there are sudden noises, and point to pictures when they recognize a word used to describe it. By the time children are 3 years old, they should pick up new words, follow basic instructions, recognize words used for certain items, and hear when you call them from another room.
Speech is perhaps one of the more varied developmental milestones because the environment in which a child grows has a lot to do with speech development. In general terms, a baby should be cooing and crying different ways by the time he or she reaches 3 months old.
Gurgling, vocalizing and babbling with consonants like “b” and “m” are common for 6-month old babies. By 12 months, your child should listen when spoken to, use at least one word, and start to communicate nonverbally with gestures such as pointing and waving.
Between 1 and 3 years old, kids should use one- or two-word questions, put together simple sentences, and name typical objects they encounter with ease (such as “cup” or “ball”).
Fine Motor Skills
A 3-month old baby should start developing fine motor skills such as shaking a rattle, grasping a finger, and opening and closing his or her fingers. By 6-months old, most babies can swipe or grab at toys and may begin using their thumb and fingers together to pick up items.
Between 7 to 12 months old, they should pick up and drop objects, stack items, turn items upside down, and pinch to grab objects. Somewhere between 1 and 3 years old, most children can turn a doorknob, draw simple shapes with a crayon, hold their cup with one hand, use a zipper, and put on or take off their shoes.
Parenting Tips for Supporting Healthy Child Development
- Be predictable about how you respond to your child
- Read to your child and talk to him or her throughout the day
- Be warm and sensitive to your child’s needs
- Be appropriate with discipline, not too harsh
- Develop reliable household routines and rules
Monitoring and Screening for Developmental Milestones
All people involved in a child’s life — whether they are parents, grandparents or teachers — can help monitor how your child grows and develops. If a certain milestone is missed, or if you believe your child is not properly developing, it is important to talk to your pediatrician.
There are developmental screening methods that can be used to determine if your child has certain needs that may require attention. Remember, the earlier a parent can catch a delay, the sooner a plan can be developed to best cater to the child’s needs.
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