Developmental milestones and delays

babies-crawling1This is the first blog post in the new series: Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child.

As I mentioned in the 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?

For a list of general developmental milestones, please visit our website. Other great places to go for info on ages and stages is the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC.

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.

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.

Updated Sept. 2015.


  • comment-avatar
    Sarah Ellen January 23, 2013

    I wish this blog had a Facebook “Like” button. This is a great blog!! This was so helpful, it’d be great to share this with those who ask me as a mother of a premature baby. Keep up the good work!

  • comment-avatar

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks so much for your enthusiastic response. We have also put this post on our Facebook page and have received similar messages. We are glad that this information is something that Moms need! Keep tuning in every Wednesday for more info on delays and disabilities. And, of course keep tuning in everyday for a variety of info that is helpful to all Moms.

  • comment-avatar
    Mrs S.RathoreC/o Major George Abraham(Retd) January 19, 2014

    Deepika Rathore,a female child of 15 months,was born after a period of 09 months & 11days,in a normal manner.The child was kept in an incubator for 09 days,but still did not cry,inspite of the best efforts of the Doctors.The child’s head is not steady and it keeps rolling from side to side,nor can it sit,stand or roll over on its stomach,as normal children do.The best Paediatric Neurologist and Spine-Neurologist in Mumbai (India) have checked up the child,but have ruled out any cure at this stage.Please advise.

    Is there any medicine,natural theraphy, physiotheraphy, etc that could rectify this cindition of the child

  • comment-avatar

    Hello Mrs. Rathore,
    Thank you for commenting on our blog. We are very sorry to learn of the developmental issues that this child faces. The March of Dimes does not see patients, diagnose or recommend treatment. A doctor or specialist is the best individual to suggest treatment modalities for this child. We hope that you are able to find the specialists best able to help her.
    With kind regards,