Every parent hopes that their child is healthy and develops normally — or even better than normally. Competition between parents whose babies are reaching developmental milestones can leave you worrying that your baby is not doing as well as he should be. Discuss your concerns with your doctor, but in most cases your baby is developing just as he should.
The developmental milestones vary according to your child’s age. In general, there are physical milestones, such as being able to hold her head up, rolling over, crawling and walking. Your baby should also meet social milestones like turning her head when you call her name or smiling back at you. As she gets older, language becomes more important, and she should start to be able to understand what you say and speak a few words.
Ranges of Normal
Every child develops at a different rate, and there is a wide range of what constitutes normal. For example, your child may only speak a few words at his first birthday, while the 1-year-old child down the block says several. This usually isn’t a cause for concern, and the children will be more similar the older they get. Additionally, you may find that your child excels in one area — he was an early walker — but is slower in another — he didn’t say his first word until he was 1.
When you attend your well-child checkups, your doctor will likely have you fill out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Ages and Stages” questionnaire. This details the developmental milestones that your child should have met according to his age. Your doctor will look into potential problems based on your answers, so answer honestly and not for the answers that you think the doctor is looking for.
Some children develop more slowly than others, but serious developmental problems may be a cause for concern. For example, your child may have a genetic disease that is causing the delay, or she may have a problem such as hearing loss that is preventing her from developing normally. Catching these problems early can help you to put her on the right track to catch up with other children.
Preemies and Development
Pre-term babies are likely to develop more slowly than those who were born at full-term. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using your child’s due date as the guideline for meeting developmental milestones. For example, if your child was born a month early, she may meet the 6-month milestones when she is 7 months old.