Posts Tagged ‘developmental milestones’

Developmental screenings are helpful for early diagnoses

Monday, April 10th, 2017

doctor-and-babyBefore your baby leaves the hospital, he receives a series of tests called newborn screening. These tests look for serious but rare conditions, including blood, hearing and heart disorders. If a problem is discovered through newborn screening, your baby may receive treatment and often avoid a more serious health problem. Early diagnosis is critical in detecting certain medical conditions.

Other screenings occur after your baby is home from the hospital

Between birth and age 3, your baby goes through incredible changes. He is growing and developing every day. To be sure that your baby is “on track,” your baby’s healthcare provider will check his developmental milestones at each well-baby visit.

These milestones are the major achievements in your child’s life. They include smiling, babbling, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, reaching grabbing, talking, walking and other accomplishments. Parents can check milestones, too. Here is a list of behaviors to look for at specific ages.

If either you or your baby’s provider are concerned that your baby is not progressing well, you can request a developmental screening. It is free as part of the federally funded early intervention program. Similar to newborn screening, this screening helps to identify potential health or developmental problems early.

If your child qualifies, the early intervention program may include services such as speech therapy, physical or occupational therapy, or even 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 reach his full potential.

One example of a diagnosis where early intervention is particularly important is Autism. April is autism awareness month, a time to remember that this developmental disorder affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S. Officially called autism spectrum disorder or ASD, it is a developmental disability that can cause social, communication and behavior challenges – from mild to severe. This is why it is referred to as a “spectrum” disorder.

ASD can be difficult to diagnose because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to give a definite answer as to whether your child has it or not. Usually, children with ASD start showing signs or symptoms of the disorder in their toddler or preschool years, and some babies show signs in their first year of life. For this reason, taking your child for regular visits with his healthcare provider is particularly important so that his development can be monitored. If your child needs early intervention services, getting it early is key in helping him progress.

Bottom line

There is a wide range of “typical development” for children. But, if you are concerned about your child’s progress or feel he is delayed in reaching his milestones, talk to his healthcare provider sooner rather than later.

You can find more information in our series on Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child.

Remember – don’t delay with delays.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Here’s a tool to monitor your child’s physical development

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Baby with rubber duckyFrom sitting to crawling to standing, there is a wide range that is considered typical development for children at a given age. Parents often see other babies or children engaging in activities that seem advanced for their child of the same age, especially if their baby was born prematurely. Time to worry?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has an easy tool to help parents know what to do if they are wondering about their child’s physical development. This interactive tool will help you see if you should be concerned at any point, and if so, what to do about it.

Simply choose the activity you are worried about (holding his head up, rolling over, bringing things to his mouth, grabbing or holding toys, sitting up, standing up, walking, going up or down stairs, running) and it will take you to a page where you can see your child’s age and learn what is typical. It also tells you what to can do at that point.  For example, if you are concerned that your two month old can’t hold his head up, it advises “Before your next visit (with your provider), make sure your child is getting “tummy time” a few times a day when she’s awake and playful.”  It will also tell you when you should make an appointment with your child’s provider. Check it out!

Of course, a chat with your child’s health care provider is always suggested and could relieve you of lots of undue worry. But this tool is a real help when you are concerned and want a quick answer, even before you can make the appointment.

Parents, you know your child best. Here are a few tips on how to start the conversation with your child’s healthcare provider as well info on developmental milestones.

Have questions? Our health education specialists are here to answer them. Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Vocabulary at age 2 may predict kindergarten success

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

parents reading to toddlerThe size of a child’s vocabulary at age two may predict how well he will do in kindergarten, according to a new study. The larger the oral vocabulary, the better prepared he will be for school.

The study looked at 8,500 children in the United States. The researchers found that:

  • preemies or babies with a very low birth weight, and babies whose mothers had health issues had smaller vocabularies.
  • children with parents who frequently interacted with their children and read to them on a regular basis had larger vocabularies.
  • girls tended to have a larger vocabulary than boys.
  • children from higher socioeconomic homes had larger vocabularies.
  • children with larger vocabularies at 24 months of age did better in reading and math and had fewer behavioral problems.

The researchers believe that interventions should be started early enough so that children who are at risk due to medical/health problems or socioeconomic disadvantages, have the time to develop and catch up. Interventions need to be targeted especially to toddlers who are living in disadvantaged homes.

Keep in mind that no two children develop exactly alike. Some are early bloomers while others are later bloomers. And one study cannot predict an individual child’s development.

What can you do?

The single most effective way to help your baby expand his vocabulary is to read to him. Start when your baby is born, and read every day. Reading aloud helps promote language skills – vocabulary, speech and later on, reading comprehension. See this post to learn just how important reading is for your baby and to learn where to get books. See the AAP’s article for tips on how to make it fun. And remember, the best parts about reading to your little one are the snuggles and cuddles that go along with it.

If your baby is showing signs of a developmental delay, speak with his health care provider, or contact your Early Intervention Program and ask for a free screening. If your child qualifies, he may receive personal, targeted intervention (such as speech therapy) to help him catch up.

Don’t delay with delays!

Have questions? Text or email them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

The study appeared in the journal Child Development.

Learn how to help your child in our Delays and Disabilities series.

Preemies- adjusted age and delays

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

toddler with pig tailsAll babies develop at their own rate. But there is a special way to determine if premature babies are developing as they should.

Babies who are born prematurely have two ages: chronological and adjusted.  Chronological age is the age of your baby from the day of his birth—the number of days, weeks or years old that your baby has been in the outside world.  Adjusted age is the developmental age of your baby based on his due date (when he would have been born).

To calculate adjusted age, take your premature baby’s chronological age and subtract the number of weeks your baby was premature.  For example, a baby who has a chronological age of 10 weeks but was born 4 weeks early has an adjusted age of 6 weeks. (10 – 4 = 6)

Why is this important?

Since so much of a baby’s growth and development takes place during pregnancy, babies who are born prematurely miss out on valuable developmental time. As a result, they may lag behind other babies who share their actual birthday. Health care providers may use your baby’s adjusted age when they evaluate your baby’s growth and development.

An infant who is 12 months old but was born 2 months early (and consequently has an adjusted age of 10 months) should not be compared to other 12 month old babies. Instead, he should be compared to other 10 month old babies. Then, his growth and development will seem more in line with typical developmental milestones.

Measuring delays

As your child grows, it may become awkward to constantly have two ages. Hopefully, as time passes, he will begin catching up to his chronologically same-aged peers. Some preemies catch up completely; others have delays or developmental issues that last for years. No two children are exactly alike. But, if you understand that your preemie should be evaluated based on his adjusted age (especially in the early months/years of his life), then it becomes easier to determine if he is delayed and if he is making timely progress.

You can learn more about developmental milestones in preemies by watching our video.

Get help early

If your child is not meeting his developmental milestones or is at risk of having a delay, specialists may be needed to help optimize your baby’s progress. Just as a person may need physical therapy to improve movement after an injury, a toddler who was born prematurely may need physical therapy to help him learn to move or walk. Many preemies have vision or hearing problems which may cause speech difficulties; the help of a speech therapist can make all the difference in helping him learn to talk. Likewise, through the help of an occupational therapist your child may overcome many challenges associated with the different aspects of daily life – from feeding and sitting in a chair to socializing.

Fortunately, in the United States, the Early Intervention program is there to help babies and toddlers who are experiencing developmental delays. Read this blog series to learn how to access this system and help your child get off on the right foot. If you suspect that your child is struggling or is delayed, it is best to get help as soon as possible – don’t delay with delays.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input. If you have questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Don’t delay with delays

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

learning to walkEvery 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect. Many other babies experience delays or disabilities as they grow up. In fact, “as many as one in four children through the age of five are at risk for a developmental delay or disability,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.  The sooner a child is identified as having a condition that requires treatment, the sooner he may start receiving appropriate interventions and begin improving.  This sounds logical, right? Yet, many children with developmental challenges somehow don’t receive the help they need until much later.

When my daughter’s speech delay was evident, I asked her pediatrician “Should we wait a year and see if she grows out of it?” Thankfully, he said “Why would you wait?” His attitude was that if we started right away, there would be a chance that this small problem would not become a bigger problem later.  He was right.

If your child has a broken leg, would you wait to have it set? Of course not. If you did not intervene with the cast and crutches, your child would continue to suffer and perhaps get worse. The same is true with other types of disabilities or delays – early treatment is essential for improvement.

Good news: more help is here

The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!  initiative was launched last week. It is a federal effort to encourage developmental and behavioral screening and support for children, families, and the providers who care for them. Yes, screening and intervention processes have been in place for years in the U.S. However, this initiative features a toolkit with an array of “research-based screening tools” to help pediatricians, parents, social workers, case workers, early care and education providers find help at the local level. The toolkit has resources to raise awareness about healthy development, recommended screening and follow-up practices. The Families page has info on developmental milestones, how to find services in your local area, tips and resources on positive parenting, and other helpful topics.

This initiative comes on the heels of the newly announced increase in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) rates. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data that indicate ASD rates have risen to 1 in 68 children aged 8 years (which is up from 1 in 88). The CDC says that most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2.

What’s a solution?

Early diagnosis and early treatment.

As parents, you know your child best. If you have a suspicion that something is not right, don’t wait. Speak up and tell your child’s pediatrician. Learn about developmental milestones and see if your child is on track. If not, say something.

The Early Intervention program in the U.S. is here for babies and toddlers up to their third birthday. The Special Education program takes over for children ages 3 and older. The key is getting babies, toddlers and children identified as early as possible, and starting intervention. Find your local program for children up to their third birthday and request that your baby/child be screened for developmental delays or disabilities without a referral from a provider. And it is free to you. If your child is age 3 or older, request a screening from your child’s school.

Throughout my daughter’s childhood, I heard “Don’t wait” so many times – from doctors and specialists to special educators and therapists. As a result, we jumped on the therapy/intervention path right away, as each issue surfaced, and tackled each problem one by one (or often two by two). I am glad that I had the influence of professionals to prod and guide me along the way. The efforts certainly paid off for my child.

Bottom line

If you need to get help for your child, you now have more than enough resources to get going. The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! initiative is there to set young children off on the right foot, and the Special Education program is there to continue to help kids up to age 21.  Hopefully, your child’s first steps will soon become leaps as you see him thrive. So, don’t delay with delays.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). As always, we welcome your comments and input – send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is dyspraxia?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

child using forkDyspraxia is a complex motor skill disorder that interferes with the activities of daily life. It can be mild or severe and affects every child differently. It is also called developmental dyspraxia and developmental coordination disorder.  It affects boys more than twice as often as girls. Dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder that can be managed but not cured.

What are some warning signs?

In babies and toddlers, signs of dyspraxia include delays in reaching developmental milestones, such as not rolling over or crawling, and later having trouble learning to walk. In young children, some of the signs of dyspraxia include being clumsy, having trouble using utensils to eat, being unable to tie shoe laces, ride a bike or catch a ball, having difficulty with speech and not completing tasks.

As you can see, dyspraxia does not have one specific sign or symptom. Having trouble talking is very different from not being able to catch a ball. But, all of these symptoms share the common basis of planning and carrying out a motor task. But, just to muddy the waters a bit, some children with dyspraxia still achieve major developmental milestones. (Are you confused yet? Wait, there’s more.) Yet, other children may have some of the signs or symptoms of dyspraxia but they are due to another diagnosis entirely. (Think of a runny nose…it could be due to a cold, the flu or allergies. The symptom is the same for each diagnosis.)  So…

How can you tell if it is dyspraxia or not, and what should you do?

In order to know if your child’s symptoms are due to dyspraxia, a developmental delay, a vision problem, or a different diagnosis entirely, it is important that a professional evaluate her. First, discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician at an office visit. He may recommend an additional evaluation by another expert. In addition, you can have your child evaluated through the early intervention program in your state for babies and toddlers, or through the special education system for children age 3 and older.

How is dyspraxia treated?

The kind of treatment a child receives depends on the type of symptoms and severity she is experiencing. Treatment  should be individualized. For example, if a child has trouble speaking (can’t form words properly, has trouble with the volume of her voice, etc.), then speech therapy would probably be appropriate. If a child has trouble with buttons, zippers, using a fork or knife, brushing teeth, is extra sensitive about hair brushing, or tags on clothing drives her to distraction, then occupational therapy may be helpful. If a child has trouble with moving around (she bumps into things, seems uncoordinated or clumsy, has trouble riding a bike, and generally has a tough time negotiating her space), then physical therapy may be in order.

In many cases, a child needs more than one kind of therapy in order to overcome obstacles. And, as a child grows and develops, the therapy needs to be adjusted to address her current issues and age.

It is worth noting that children with dyspraxia are often challenged by having other disorders at the same time, such as a learning disability, a speech and language disorder and/or attention problems. This is why it is important for a child to be diagnosed accurately and to receive appropriate treatment as early as possible.

Good company

shoelaces undoneDaniel Radclliffe, the actor who plays Harry Potter in the film series, has openly discussed his dyspraxia. He has trouble with handwriting and tying shoes, and admits he struggled in school.  Evidently, he has been able to focus on his gifts and talents to become a world famous actor. (Or perhaps there was just a little bit of magic thrown in?) But seriously, hard work and perseverance are always factors in learning to be successful despite a disability.

Where can you get more info?

You can learn more about dyspraxia and other learning disabilities at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).  They have a short video that is helpful in understanding the different facets of dyspraxia. The NIH also has information on dyspraxia.

Bottom line

Although dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder, it can be managed through appropriate treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s development, be sure to speak with her health care provider or ask that your child be evaluated. Intervention at any time, is valuable.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

How does your state define developmental delay?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

tired-toddlerFor children under the age of 3, your state’s early intervention system can provide services for a developmental delay. But all states do not define “developmental delay” the same way.

To find your state’s definition for babies and toddlers, visit NECTAC (the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center). They have a chart of each state with their Level of Developmental Delay Required for Eligibility. (You should know that diagnosed physical or mental conditions with a “high probability of resulting in developmental delay,” commonly referred to as “established conditions,” is also an eligibility category, but it is not listed in this chart.)

Alternatively, you can ask your local school or early intervention program to tell you the definition of “developmental delay” that’s used in your area.

Where can you find more info?

• The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, known as NICHCY, has been the go-to organization for all things pertaining to early intervention and special education. Although they lost their funding and closed their doors, their materials have been incorporated into the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) website.  I suggest that you visit the CPIR site to find tons of useful information you may need for your child’s future.  For example, to learn more about developmental delays, getting a developmental screening and evaluation, connecting with other parents, and finding out about other resources, see their page on developmental delays.

• If you have a baby or toddler and suspect that her development is not on track, learn more about developmental milestones.  Always discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician. In addition, you can contact your state’s coordinator of early intervention services directly and request an evaluation.

• If you have a child age 3 or older, see this blog post to learn how to initiate services and visit CPIR to understand the definition of developmental delay for kids 3+ as defined in the law.

• Connect with your PTI – Every state has a Parent Training and Information Center, known as the PTI. Some states have several. If you are looking to connect with state and local resources, or have questions about services and parent rights, talk to your PTI. Find the PTI for your state here. One of the “Type of State Organization” choices in the dropdown menu includes “Organizations for Parents.” Click that option, then your state. The PTI will be listed in your results.

Bottom line

There are many resources in place to help your child if she needs them. It is always better to be proactive then reactive. Don’t delay with delays.

Note: This post is part of the series on Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. See the Table of Contents to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Updated October 2015.

Delays and disabilities series – a recap

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

babiesHere is a list of all blog posts to date with links, grouped by topic. You can go back and see what pertains to you and get caught up. This post should help you to make sense of this series which started in January 2013 and appears on News Moms Need every Wednesday.

Intro – Why this series? How it will help you

A new blog series is here 

First things first – Is your child’s development on track?

Developmental milestones and delays 

Getting help for free  – the evaluation

Early intervention for babies and toddlers 

Early intervention for children ages 3 and older 

Figuring out the language of special needs

Learning the lingo

Words and terms – a whole new world 

Delays, disabilities and the law 

Navigating the early intervention and special education systems

What is an IFSP? (for kids from birth to age 3)

What is an IEP? (for kids ages 3 and up)

IEP or 504 – that is the question 

April is IEP month 

IEPs and LREs – the nitty gritty 

What is Prior Written Notice or “PWN”?

Keeping track of your child’s records –useful tips

An easy way to find resources for kids with special needs

Different diagnoses (there will be more diagnoses added to this part of the blog in the coming weeks)

Did you hear me?  The child with auditory processing problems

Different kinds of therapies

What are Related Services? 

What is Speech Therapy?

What is Physical Therapy or PT?

What is Occupational Therapy or OT? 

What are Recreation Services?

What are Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding (THR)?

Summers, vacations and transitions

Vacationing with a child with special needs 

Re-entry: life after vacation 

A transition tip – how to help your child go from activity to activity, or place to place

Parenting suggestions and caring for YOU

Caring for the caretaker – put on your oxygen mask  

Emergencies – Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs 

Delays and disabilities worldwide

International focus on children with disabilities 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is speech therapy?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

girl-blowing-bubbles1Speech and language therapy (commonly referred to simply as “speech therapy”) is a special kind of therapy to help your child communicate.  If your child has difficulty expressing his needs, he may become very frustrated and display behaviors such as crying, tantrums, withdrawing, etc. If it is due to a delay or disability, the sooner your child begins therapy, the sooner he will be able to understand language, express his needs and be understood. Once he is no longer frustrated, the happier he and the whole family will be!

Are speech and language problems all the same?

No. There are many different aspects to speech and language. For example, a child may have difficulty speaking due to a structural problem in his mouth or for another reason. Other times a child can understand language but has a hard time getting words out and expressing himself. Yet other times a child does not understand the spoken word (which may be due to a hearing problem, but it could also have no known cause).   Some children develop language more slowly than their peers (a delay), while other children have more choppy development or have more serious problems (a disorder). Sometimes a speech or language problem is one part of a larger diagnosis. It is different for every child.

Here are some common types of speech and language problems:
• expressive language – how a child speaks or expresses himself
• receptive language – whether a child can process and understand what is said to him
• mixed expressive/receptive language- a combination of both problems
• social language or pragmatics  – using language correctly in a social setting
• dysphagia – a swallowing disorder
• dyslexia and language based learning disabilities  – when a child has trouble understanding the written word (reading), learning new vocabulary, expressing ideas clearly, understanding directions, spelling, numbers or telling time.

You can read more about the different kinds of speech and language problems as well as important language milestones here.

How do you get speech and language services for your child?

The first step is to talk to your child’s health care provider about your child’s speech or language milestones.  You can request to have your child evaluated for free through programs provided by your state (for babies and toddlers) or by your school district (for children age 3 and older). This is provided to you under the IDEA, (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This is the federal law that ensures that children with developmental delays or disabilities receive the help that they need.  Speech and language therapy falls under the umbrella of Related Services.  Keep in mind that parents can request an evaluation without a referral from a doctor or school. See my prior posts for info on how to have your baby and toddler or child age 3 and up evaluated for free.

According to the IDEA, a “Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”  The key words are articulation, fluency, voice and language. For a closer look at each one, please see NICHCY’s discussion on the CPIR website.

Once your child has been evaluated and the professionals have met with you to discuss the results of the testing, they may recommend that your child receive services provided by a Speech and Language Pathologist (a professional who provides therapy for communication problems). Therapy may include services for addressing communication problems as well as counseling and guidance for you and your child’s teachers. Although the primary aim is to get your child to learn to speak clearly and understand language, it is sometimes necessary for a child to learn sign language or rely on picture books in order to be able to communicate. Every child is different.

When and how is speech therapy begun?

Speech therapy often begins in infancy for a baby with oral structural problems, and in toddlerhood or preschool for children with delayed speech or other language issues. However, it can begin at any age. If your child is not identified as having a speech and language problem until he is in elementary, middle or even high school, do not despair. The positive effects of therapy may still be very helpful.

If it is decided that your child will receive speech and language therapy, his specific needs and goals will be outlined in his IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan (for babies and toddlers up to age 3) or IEP – an Individualized Education Program (for kids ages 3 and up). This document will provide details of the services he will receive, including how often, where and with whom. Remember, parents are members of the team that write up the goals for the IFSP or IEP.

Will your child like the therapy?

Most children thoroughly enjoy speech and language therapy – I know my daughter did. SLPs incorporate games and creative ways of learning into the sessions which make it fun and enjoyable for your child. For example, blowing bubbles helps to develop oral facial muscles and also breath control, which are necessary in learning to speak.

The bottom line

If your child is referred for speech and language therapy, be glad that he is going to have the specialized attention he needs to help make communication easier for him and you. It is important to address all communication needs as soon as you learn of them because your child will benefit from the therapy for the rest of his life.

On a personal note, my daughter started speech and language therapy at age 3 and continued through early high school. It helped so much! She became a thespian in high school and continues to act in plays with a local community theater group. In college, her highest grade (A+) was in a Public Speaking course!  Without receiving speech therapy, I doubt she would have overcome her obstacles to the point where she could speak in front of large groups or act on a stage in front of a live audience. Never say never!

Have questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday . Feel free to go back to look at prior posts as the series builds on itself. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Developmental milestones and delays

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

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.

We welcome your comments and input! Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Updated Sept. 2015.