Understanding Your Child’s Developmental Milestones: Tips for Monitoring Growth and Development

Parents holding their newborn child and smiling.

Watching your child grow is full of rewarding moments, but it can also be very stressful if you’re not sure what milestones they need to be reaching. Although every child is unique, there are some general milestones to watch for to ensure they develop correctly. Pediatricians share some tips to keep in mind.

What Are Developmental Milestones?

Developmental milestones are the skills that most children develop by a certain age. These skills can be anything from smiling for the first time to waving. There are four main categories of milestones.

Social and emotional milestones refer to how children interact with others and show their emotions. They can include calming down when they’re picked up or spoken to, imitating other children, and even crying when their parents leave.

Language and communication milestones involve how children express their needs and share their thoughts. These milestones include pointing to objects, asking for help, and waving.

Cognitive milestones are those that deal with the way children learn and solve problems. They also include how children navigate their environment. Some milestones include reaching for a toy they want, stacking objects, and banging things together. When your baby stares up at you over the crib, that’s a cognitive milestone.

Then, there are also movement and physical development milestones, which deal with how the child moves. Milestones include taking a few steps on their own, eating with a spoon, and more.

Tracking Growth and Development

Tracking your child’s growth and development is essential to ensure they’re not facing any issues that could affect the rest of their lives. Pediatricians can provide guidance on this so that you know what to expect and what to look for.

What to Expect at Two Months

At two months old, a baby will begin to hold their head up when they’re on their belly and will also start to move their arms and legs as they do so. They will follow your movement around the room and respond to the sounds they hear around them. At two months, you should also begin to see them calming down when you speak to them.

What to Expect at Four to Six Months

When your baby is between four to six months old, you should start seeing a wide arrangement of developmental milestones. You’ll notice that your baby can hold their head up without support.

They’ll begin to put their hands in their mouths and push themselves onto their elbows when they’re on their stomach. They’ll even turn their heads toward you when they hear your voice.

Closer to the six-month mark, you can expect them to manage to roll from their belly to their back and transfer objects from one hand to the other. They’ll also use their hands to support themselves when they sit.

You can also expect them to put things in their mouths and start experimenting with blowing and squealing, and this is when they first start laughing. You’ll notice that they’ll recognize familiar people.

What to Expect at Nine Months

When your child is nine months old, you should start noticing the next set of milestones, including the ability to sit up on their own and to transfer things from one hand to the other. If they drop items, they’ll search for them now.

Your pediatrician will want to know if they’ve started to make random sounds and raise their arms when they want to be picked up. You can now spot when they’re nervous or wary of strangers and what they’re feeling because they’ll display all kinds of emotions now.

When you call their name, they should turn their head toward you and reach out or cry for you if you leave. When playing games like peek-a-boo, they should laugh or smile.

What to Expect at One Year

When your child turns one year old, they should be able to look for things you hide from them and hold small items between their thumb and index finger.
This is when they should start standing up and walking with support, like holding onto furniture. With your help, they should manage to drink from lidless cups.

Your child should understand the word “no” by now, and they should be able to wave goodbye.

What to Expect Between Two and Three Years

For a two-year-old child, your pediatrician will want to make sure that the child can walk both with or without help. They also should be able to hold an object in one hand and use the other hand to perform some other task. They can also play with balls, run, and eat with a spoon.

You might start to see hand dominance now, and they’ll be able to use more gestures, including nodding, to communicate. A child has to sense by now when a person is sad or upset, and they should look to you for your expressions when facing an unfamiliar situation.

At three years of age, a child needs to know how to put on a piece of clothing on their own and eat with a fork. If you ask them about an action in a picture or book, they should be able to describe it. They should also be able to say their first names.

What to Expect Between Four and Five Years

At four years old, your child should be able to hold a pen or crayon and use utensils. They should also be able to name a few colors and understand that they should avoid certain dangers, like hot objects. They have to be able to answer simple questions and express interest in playing with other children.

At five, they’ll be able to jump, count up to 10, and follow directions. They also should be able to use the future tense when speaking and perform simple chores.

Turning to a Trusted Pediatrician

If you have concerns about a child’s development or want to check for any other concerns, including breathing issues, turn to a pediatrician. At Newport Children’s Medical Group, you can get the guidance you need. Call today.