Although children grow up at their own pace and at different rates, there are certain steps in their development that they must all take to ensure that they’re developing correctly.
As babies get older, there are certain cognitive and motor skills they should already have picked up at a specific point in their life. These developmental milestones serve as a metric by which parents, pediatricians, and caregivers can ensure that a child is in good shape for their age.
Below are the childhood development milestones every parent needs to look forward to in their children.
1 Month to 3 Months
The first three months of a babies’ life is an exploratory stage. At this stage, infants will be gaining an understanding of their surrounding environment and their body, and discovering their basic senses. In terms of physical milestones, expect infants to make twitchy and quavering movements with their arms and legs, ball their hands into fists, suckle on bottles or nipples, and bring their hands up to their face.
They may be able to discern the difference between certain sounds that vary in volume and pitch, and they can perceive the entire spectrum of colors. Babies can also tell the difference between sweet, sour, bitter, and salty tastes.
Developmental delays to look out for include not being able to focus on objects, not moving their limbs or having no control over their limbs, not responding to sounds, an inability to suckle or feed, and not blinking when shown a bright light.
3 Months to 6 Months
At 3 to 6 months old, babies are starting to develop their sense of perception. They’re able to recognize and react to familiar sounds and familiar faces. At this point in their development cycle, they can grasp objects, raise their head when lying on their stomach, babble and attempt to mimic certain sounds, as well as smile at familiar faces and sounds. You may notice them becoming more expressive and assertive too.
They may also begin teething since most children get their first tooth at 6 months old. It’s important to take your child to the dentist for the first time within six months after their first tooth erupts. They’ll be able to spot any complications or recommend an orthodontist if your child needs one in the future.
During this stage of their life, if they don’t react to external stimuli, can’t grasp objects in their hands, don’t smile, don’t follow objects with their eyes, can’t lift their head upright, and don’t babble or attempt to mimic sounds, then you should schedule a check-up appointment with your pediatrician.
6 Months to 9 Months
Infants aged 6 to 9 months old are now able to respond to their own name, support most of their weight on their legs for a short time, sit upright, roll around, attempt to respond to sounds by babbling, be expressive with their responses, enjoy playtime with other people, and explore the use of their mouth and hands.
If an infant can’t easily move their muscles either because they’re too limp or too rigid, doesn’t respond to external stimuli, can’t hold their head upright, doesn’t smile, fails to show affection towards other people, are unable to bear weight on their legs, has no interest in playing, and can’t sit upright, then you should seek the professional advice of a pediatrician.
9 Months to 1 Year
Infants aged 9 months to 1 year old are more in control of their movements and are capable of crawling, sitting upright, and even walking. At this point in time, children’s cognitive, physical, and social development is at its peak. They’re able to mimic the voices and gestures of everyone around them, respond with words, look at picture books, cognizant of object permanence, and stand, sit up, or walk without any help. They can also form simple words such as “yes,” “no,” “mama,” and “dada.”
However, if they’re extremely anxious around strangers, uncomfortable when their parents or caretakers leave them, are unable to stand, crawl, and sit up without any support, can’t form any simple words and sounds, and has difficulty learning how to make simple gestures such as pointing their finger, waving their hand, or shaking their head, then you should take them to their pediatrician.
Children develop at their own rate; they may just completely skip over a milestone or it may take a longer time for them to emerge. A missed milestone or two isn’t always a cause for concern, but it doesn’t hurt to pay a pediatrician a visit to consult with them about your child’s development or ask for a developmental screening. This test will reveal if there are any serious problems that need to be addressed.