Developmental Milestones: Everything You Need to Know

These are a group of skills or age-specific tasks, which early childhood specialists think most children should have the capacity to perform at certain ages. However, the accurate timing when an individual child reaches each milestone varies quite a bit. Yet, not meeting one or multiple milestones well after the anticipated range can cause concern. By observing different milestones, doctors, parents, and teachers can understand how children typically develop and identify any potential problems.

Developmental milestones are divided into four basic categories. These include:

Physical milestones: These milestones include both fine motor skills and large motor skills. Fine motor skills involve specific movements, such as holding a crayon, grasping a spoon, picking up small objects, and drawing shapes. The large motor skills are generally the first to develop and involve crawling, sitting up, standing, and walking. For instance, between the ages of 9 and 12 months, children usually start to achieve physical milestones like standing up or even early walking.

Cognitive milestones: Cognitive milestones revolve around a child’s ability to learn, think, and solve problems. An infant learning how to react to facial expressions and a preschooler learning the alphabet are common examples of cognitive milestones. Other examples include problem-solving and looking for dropped objects.

Social and emotional milestones: These milestones are centered on kids gaining better comprehension of their own and others’ emotions. These skills also include learning how to play and interact with other individuals and the development of empathy. Some common examples include expressing emotions via facial expressions, showing a preference for caregivers, and self-soothing.

Communication and language milestones: These milestones include both language and nonverbal communication. Two common examples of important communication milestones include a one-year-old learning to say the first words and a five-year-old learning some basic rules of grammar. Other communication milestones include looking toward the person who’s talking to them and making cooing sounds.

While most of these milestones generally take place during a particular window of time, parents and caregivers must note that each child is unique. The ranges simply provide a framework for approximately when to anticipate specific skills to develop.

Most developmental abilities are progressive, meaning advanced skills such as running generally occur after simpler abilities like crawling and cruising have already been achieved. If a child has developmental delays, early intervention can help achieve more successful outcomes. There’re multiple programs available to help children with delays from birth through high school.

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