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Checking Developmental Milestones

By: PJB Admin | 8 years ago
Tags: Baby Care

Babies are unique and develop at their own pace, so avoid the unnecessary stress of comparing your baby’s development with another’s. Yet while a baby might take more time to learn one skill and master another faster, there is a general timeline for normal development.

If you think your child is meeting deadlines a little late, don’t worry too much just yet. “Often there’s not even a delay,” says Michelle Bailey, MD, medical director of Duke Health Center at . “Sometimes a parent just isn’t giving the child opportunities. For example, a baby may not sit alone because he’s always being held, rather than having time on the floor.”

Premature birth is also another common explanation for the delay, as Dr. Bailey says, “children who are premature may not have the same rate of muscle strength and development.” This may lead to a delay in motor skills, although this is usually resolved over time.

To determine if your baby is developing normally, here are some milestones and advice on how you can aid their development, as well as red flags to watch out for during your child’s first three years.


First Year

1 to 3 months

Your child can/will:

  • Take notice of your voice, face, and touch
  • Hear fully and is likely to turn towards the sound of your voice
  • Focus their sight up to 12 inches
  • Lift their head briefly and turn it to the side while on their belly

During this time, have your child spend lots of time on their belly, encouraging them to reach for toys to strengthen their neck and back muscles. Make frequent eye contact when talking or reading to your little one.

See your doctor if you notice that your child:

  • Doesn’t suckle well
  • Can’t seem to focus on moving objects within sight
  • Doesn’t react or respond to bright lights or loud sounds
  • Seems especially stiff or limp


3 to 6 months

 Your child can/will:

  • Smile! They also actively enjoy playtime.
  • Imitate your facial expressions as well as the sounds you make
  • Support the weight of their head while sitting upright
  • Lift their chest along with their head like a mini push-up
  • Open and close their hands, smack objects, and shake toys. They can also bring their hands towards their mouths at this point.
  • Push their legs down when held in standing position
  • Focus on faces and can recognize yours even from across the room

Guide your child’s thumb to their mouth to help your child learn to self-soothe. Continue doing the belly exercise to further develop their muscles and allow them to explore objects with their hands, as this should be a part of their daily routine. Also, engage your child in “conversation” by speaking with your baby, pointing out different objects, and naming them.

See your doctor if you notice that your child:

  • Can’t support their head well
  • Can’t grip objects
  • Can’t focus on moving objects
  • Doesn’t smile
  • Doesn’t react to loud sounds
  • Doesn’t acknowledge new faces
  • Gets excessively upset by unfamiliar people or surroundings


4 to 7 months

Your child can/will:

  • Smile, laugh, and babble-speak
  • Roll to and from their tummy and back
  • Sit without assistance, as well as support their own weight with their legs with minor assistance
  • Rake in objects, hold them, and move them from hand to hand
  • Learn their name, turning to you when you say it
  • Eat solid food

Encourage your child’s communication skills by responding to everything they babble at you. Try and integrate as much play into your relationship with your child. Place your child in different positions (such as standing, sitting, or lying on their belly) to familiarize them with these. Keep reading to your child and naming things in the immediate area.

See your doctor if you notice that your child:

  • Can’t hold their head steady
  • Can’t sit without assistance
  • Doesn’t respond to noisesor smiles
  • Isn’t affectionate with those closest to them
  • Shows no interest in reaching for objects


8 to 12 months

 Your child can/will:

  • Crawl
  • Pull themselves up to a standing position using chairs and low tables and walk the length of that support
  • Speak their first word and eventually simple phrases too. For everything else your child wants to communicate, they will make simple gestures. Place things in containers and take them out
  • Grab food and place them into their mouths
  • Mimic more and more of your actions
  • Typically be shy around strangers
  • Experience separation anxiety

Keep speaking to your baby. Besides naming objects and conversing, start describing what you’re doing. To help with separation anxiety, give your child time to get used to new caregivers and be sure to always say goodbye before leaving.

See your doctor if you notice that your child:

  • Doesn’t crawl
  • Drags one side more than the other when crawling
  • Can’t stand without support
  • Shows no interest in finding objects you’ve hidden in front of them
  • Doesn’t say any words
  • Doesn’t use gestures (hands, head shaking)


Second Year

 Your child can/will:

  • Walk without assistance, go up and down stairs, kick a ball, and maybe even run
  • Use words in short phrases and sentences
  • Follow simple directions
  • Identify shapes and can doodle with crayons, play with stacking blocks, and throw balls
  • Show interest in using the toilet
  • Be more comfortable playing with other children and start to become more independent, even defiant

To develop their verbal skills, talk to your child as often as possible and ask questions. You can have them verbalize what they want instead of pointing at things, give them options, and allow them to make decisions. You can also encourage them to talk by asking them to sort their toys into categories (such as stuffed animals, books, and crayons, among others) when putting them away.

See your doctor if you notice that your child:

  • Can’t walk by 18 months
  • Doesn’t understand the use of everyday items
  • Doesn’t speak at least six words by 18 months or two-word sentences by 24 months
  • Doesn’t imitate words and actions
  • Can’t follow simple instructions
  • Starts to regress


Third Year

Your child can/will:

  • Live between the world of imagination and reality (for example, have imaginary friends, believe in monsters in the closet or under the bed)
  • Use hundreds of words and can follow multi-step instructions
  • Jump, pedal a bicycle, and open doors.
  • Solve simple puzzles
  • Make friends and display certain emotions towards them like empathy and affection.

To foster further development, set play dates for your child. Allow the playmates to resolve any conflict between them, but be ready to step in if things get too difficult. Pretend play is also a great way for them to sort through their emotions and works best if your child directs the play.

See your doctor if you notice that your child:

  • Struggles with separation anxiety
  • Doesn’t interact with people outside the family nor with other children
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Can’t throw a ball or jump
  • Can’t climb stairs with alternating feet
  • Isn’t able to complete a sentence

For more information and EQ support, feel free to ask our experts here.