The early years of a child’s life are very important for his or her health and development. Healthy development means that children of all abilities, including those with special health care needs, are able to grow up where their social, emotional and educational needs are met. Having a safe and loving home and spending time with family―playing, singing, reading, and talking―are very important. Proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep also can make a big difference.
Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye-bye” are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (for example, crawling and walking).
Children develop at their own pace, so it’s impossible to tell exactly when a child will learn a given skill. However, the developmental milestones give a general idea of the changes to expect as a child gets older.
As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or if you think there could be a problem with your child’s development, talk with your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait.
Developmental Monitoring and Screening
Parents, grandparents, early childhood providers, and other caregivers can participate in developmental monitoring, which observes how your child grows and changes over time and whether your child meets the typical developmental milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving.
Developmental screening takes a closer look at how your child is developing. A missed milestone could be a sign of a problem, so when you take your child to a well visit, the doctor, nurse, or another specialist might give your child a brief test, or you will complete a questionnaire about your child.
If the screening tool identifies an area of concern, a formal developmental evaluation may be needed, where a trained specialist takes an in-depth look at a child’s development.
If a child has a developmental delay, it is important to get help as soon as possible. When a developmental delay is not found early, children must wait to get the help they need to do well in social and educational settings.
If you have any questions that are not addressed above, please feel free to call us at 301.238.4788.
The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) strives to advance the health and well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable populations. Although the efforts are broad and far-reaching, we have identified four critical Center-level thematic areas:
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Impressions Pediatric Therapy is motivated to help families identify symptoms that normally take longer to notice and makes it harder to put a plan in place to help the children reach their potential. Below are a few links to help identify some of these symptoms so they work toward healthy, happy lives.