Spending time with other parents and children gives you plenty of chances to compare developmental progress of the kids. Parents often worry about the development of their children, particularly if another child is doing something more advanced. Measuring normal development goes beyond simple comparisons with your child’s playmates. The rate of development varies from one child to the next, but there are ways to determine if your child truly is developmentally delayed.
Child development typically falls into several different categories. A child might have developmental delays in one particular area while developing normally in other areas. The main areas of development are motor skills, language, cognitive and social skills. Motor skills are further divided between fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills involve small movements such as dressing, picking up objects, writing and eating. Gross motor skills involve larger movements like running, walking and balancing.
Milestones are specific tasks or skills the child should perform by a certain age. Most developmental milestones include a range of several months to account for differences in child development. The milestones give a general idea of what your child should be doing, but failing to meet a milestone by the recommended age does not mean she is delayed.
Well Child Visits
Regular well child visits with your child’s doctor give you a professional opinion about your child’s development. The milestones that are relevant for your child’s age at each appointment play a role in the doctor’s assessment. He might ask a series of questions about skills and tasks your child is able to perform. Doctors also observe the child during the appointment to look for particular developmental factors. If your doctor notices anything out of the ordinary, he might dig deeper or send you to a specialist for further assessment. The well child visits also give you a chance to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have. For example, if your toddler only says a few words, your doctor can let you know if speech therapy should be a consideration.
Each Kid is Different
Because each child is different, you will notice differences in development. A child might excel in one particular area of development while reaching milestones in other areas at a slower rate. Children at the same age might also vary greatly in what they are doing. For example, one child might take his first steps at 10 months old while another child might not walk until 15 months or later. Avoid using comparisons with other children to determine if your child is developing normally.
What is Considered a Delay in Development?
One missed milestone doesn’t mean your child is developmentally delayed. Continually missing the milestones for a particular developmental skill is required to be considered a delay. Any concerns about your child’s development should be directed to your child’s physician for further assessment.