Developmental milestones and delays
This is the first blog post in the new series: Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child.
As I mentioned in my introductory post, having a baby is a wonderful journey. But what happens if something goes wrong? Or, if you suspect that something is not right with your baby or child? What should you do?
First things first
The first thing you need to do is to understand how babies and children develop. Then you can decide if you need to seek help. To do this, you need to look at your child’s developmental milestones – those major achievements in your child’s life. They include smiling, babbling, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, reaching, grabbing, exploring objects, talking, understanding and walking… just to name a few!
Milestones are reached in the areas of speech and language, hearing, vision, play, gross and fine motor skills, cognitive abilities such as thinking and learning, and social and emotional development.
It is important to remember that developmental milestones are guidelines. No two children reach milestones at the exact same time. Your baby’s health care provider will evaluate your child’s development at each well-care visit. Always talk to the provider if you think your child is lagging behind in any area of development.
How can you track your baby’s development?
Are developmental milestones the same for preemies?
If your baby was born prematurely, he may need more time to reach his milestones. The age at which your baby is expected to reach various milestones is based on his due date, not his birth date. So use your baby’s adjusted age when looking at his milestones. Watch this video to help understand the differences in milestones for a preemie. Most preemies meet their milestones later and eventually catch up to their peers.
What should you do if your baby is lagging behind?
Whether you gave birth prematurely, full term, with or without complications, a baby or child may show signs of delayed development at any point in time. If your baby is lagging behind in any area, speak with your baby’s health care provider. If you or your provider feel there is a delay, you can have your baby evaluated for free as part of a federally funded early intervention program. This program may include everything from speech therapy to a special preschool setting. Early intervention can be enormously helpful in helping your child improve. And, the sooner you begin intervention, the sooner your baby can start catching up.
More to come
As I mentioned, this is the first blog post in a new series on Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child, which will appear every Wednesday. You will learn what you need to know to get your child the help he needs. The next post will focus on early intervention services for babies and toddlers, up to age 3…so stay tuned.
We welcome your comments and input! Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.