Developmental Milestones: The Early Years

It's one of the complicated elements of parenting: you might want your baby to stay small but be equally desperate to see them grow and develop as they should. It's a unique and bittersweet emotion that can be hard for parents - especially new parents - to reconcile. One way to track development is through the many milestones babies naturally strive for throughout their early years. Let's take a look.

What are developmental milestones?

Babies are amazing. Without knowing how they instinctively strive towards goals before they have any idea what goals are. Since you can't quiz a baby on how they feel they are growing, all you have to go on is their behaviour and actions. So, in the early years, we track baby development through developmental milestones."

Why is tracking milestones tricky?

Although babies seem to grow relatively predictably, it's important to remember that every baby is an individual and their growth will be unique to them. Some babies start to walk as early as 8 months, others at closer to 18 months; both of these are within the normal range. Some crawl, others slide along on their bums. Some potty train early, others are still wearing nappies at four. It's important to remember that there are some things that you as a parent cannot control.

Why is it important to know what the milestones are?

There are some skills, like responding to noises and babbling, that help alert caregivers to a problem. For example, if your baby doesn't respond to noises, or look at you when you speak, they could have difficulty hearing and it's worth getting that checked out by a doctor. But it's not a competition. They all reach their milestones at the time that works for them, regardless of our timetables.

What milestones should I be looking out for?

There are hundreds of lists on the internet of endless milestones to watch out for from birth to three years. There are physical, emotional and social cues to look out for. They can also be expressed through changes in behaviour and other needs. Some important ones are:

  • Response to noise, babbling and smiling.
  • Increasing control over their head and neck, and the ability to roll over.
  • Sitting, crawling, or other pre-walking mobility.

What happens if my baby doesn't seem to reach their milestones?

Milestones were created to give parents and caregivers an idea of the proper development of babies. There is, however, always a range for the emergence of these skills. Any absence or delay should be noted and mentioned to your doctor at well-baby visits. If it's concerning, your doctor will know and will do further tests. But if there's nothing wrong, rest assured that your baby will get there when they are ready.

Developmental milestones are really helpful for parents, caregivers and doctors to track proper growth and maturity in young babies who are not able to communicate effectively yet. They are not there to worry or stress parents out, so if tracking milestones is freaking you out, rather let your doctor ask questions and just respond to them honestly. If there is ever a cause for concern, your doctor will know.


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