Anxiety is a new parent’s constant companion. You’re probably wondering if your baby is eating too little, sleeping too much or even crying too often. And way up there on your list of concerns is, no doubt, development. Should your baby be smiling by now? Crawling? Waving bye-bye? Like people, babies are individuals. Some will do things better, earlier and more easily than others. But knowing what milestones to look for at different stages can help put your mind at ease, or spur you to find early intervention programs if need be.
See your pediatrician for regular checkups. At these visits, your pediatrician can tell you which physical, emotional and cognitive developments your baby should be making at certain points. For example, by 2 months of age, many babies can smile; by 6 months, many can hold their heads upright without support; by a year, many can say “mama” or “dada.”
Check out child development books or online resources (see Resources below). They give you a nutshell version of what you can expect your child to accomplish at certain ages.
Pay attention. Babies can flip from their stomachs to their backs (a developmental milestone) and then back again in the blink of an eye. Acquaint yourself with particular milestones and then look out for them.
Be mindful of your baby’s birth date. A baby who is born prematurely may take longer to reach developmental milestones.
Trust your gut. You know your baby better than anyone. If you feel she isn’t making progress, ask your pediatrician to refer her to a specialist.
Don’t compare. Just because your best friend’s baby walked at 9 months and yours didn’t start until 15 months, it’s no cause for alarm; they both fall into the “normal” range. Even siblings can progress at different rates.
Be on guard for certain developmental red flags. While there is a wide range of “normal,” developmental delays do occur, and dealing with them early on gives your baby a good chance of overcoming them. If your baby has poor head control after 3 months, for example, or can’t sit up without support by 8 months, then you may need to speak to your pediatrician about early intervention programs.
About the Author
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.