Child development milestones are a great way for parents to tell if their child is developing appropriately. Each child is unique—and their rate of development is also one of a kind: socially, cognitively, physically, and more. That said, there are standard developmental benchmarks and, as a parent, it’s natural to wonder how your child is progressing.
To help, the CDC has created a list of milestones to reference. The site provides examples of what may be typical in these areas:
- Social/Emotional Milestones
- Language/Communication Milestones
- Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
- Movement/Physical Development Milestones
Find Your Child's Age
You can click on your child’s age (ranging from two months to five years) to see benchmarks in each of these areas. As just one example, if your child is thirty months of age, here are common milestones reached:
- Your child plays next to other kids and, sometimes, with them.
- He or she can say two or more words in combination: “Kitty plays.”
- The child can follow two-step instructions. “Pick up your cup and take it to the kitchen”
- He or she can turn book pages, one at a time, as you enjoy storytime together.
Monitor Their Progress
To monitor your child’s progress, you can use the CDC app.
At well-care visits with your child’s pediatrician, the doctor will have contact with your child and can observe his or her development, comparing it to previous visits. Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental screenings at the ages of nine, eighteen, twenty-four, and thirty months. The organization also recommends an autism check at the ages of eighteen and twenty-four months.
Remember, though, that no one spends as much time with your child as you do. So, you may notice signs that even professionals won’t.
If You Have Concerns...
If you have developmental concerns, then Childcare.gov recommends that you talk to your child’s pediatrician, nurse, or child care provider about developmental screening. This can be done in healthcare, school, or community settings by professionals who can test for any delays.
As many as twenty-five percent of children up to the age of five are at risk for developmental delays, so don’t be alarmed if any issues arise. Identifying them early is a smart move, one that can help your child to get the help he or she needs.
Take Notes and Ask Questions
When sharing concerns with a doctor, take good notes and, before you leave, ask whatever questions you still have. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask the doctor to explain it again, perhaps in a different way. (The CDC has a resource specifically for this type of conversation.) When you get home, review your notes again and follow the recommended steps.
You may have heard that a child’s brain is shaped during the first three years of life. This is true, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University notes, but this does not mean that the opportunities for development close at that point. To quote Harvard, “Far from it!... we remain capable of learning ways to 'work around’ earlier impacts well into the adult years.”