What are developmental milestones, and can I help my child reach them?

Article at a Glance

  • General guidelines may help identify areas of concern in a child’s development.
  • There are many ways in which parents can help their children reach developmental milestones.
  • Resources and assessments are available to help parents understand their child’s development.

What are Developmental Milestones?

Developmental milestones are a set of skills or behaviors that children typically achieve by a certain age. These milestones can be categorized into several different areas of development, including physical, cognitive, language, social, and emotional. For example, a physical developmental milestone for a baby might be rolling over or sitting up, while a cognitive milestone might be recognizing familiar faces or following simple instructions.

It is important to note that every child develops at their own pace, and there is a wide range of what is considered “typical” for developmental milestones. However, there are general guidelines for what milestones children should reach by certain ages. These guidelines are based on research and observation of typical development, and they help healthcare professionals and parents track a child’s progress and identify any potential developmental delays.

If your child is not meeting developmental milestones at the expected age, it’s time to talk their pediatric provider. Early intervention can make a big difference in helping children catch up and reach their full potential.

In some cases, delays may result from an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. Maybe your preschooler isn’t reacting to picture books because she needs glasses. In other cases, your child may simply need extra support or resources to help them develop certain skills.

What Can I Do to Help My Baby Reach a Developmental Milestone?

As a parent, there are several things you can do to help your child reach developmental milestones. Here are some tips:

Create a safe and stimulating environment:

Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to explore and play safely. Provide toys and activities that encourage physical, cognitive, and social development.

Talk and interact with your child:

Babies and young children learn a lot through social interaction and communication. Talk to your child frequently, using simple words and sentences. Narrate what you’re doing and play games like peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake that encourage your baby to respond.

Provide plenty of opportunities for movement:

Physical activity is important for children’s growth and development. Encourage your child to crawl, walk, run, jump, and climb as appropriate for their age and abilities.

Read together:

Reading is a great way to promote language and cognitive development. Start reading to your baby from a young age, and make it a regular part of your routine even after they learn to read on their own.

Seek out resources and support:

There are many resources available for parents of children working to catch up on developmental delays, including support groups, therapy services, and educational programs. Talk to your pediatrician about what resources might be available in your community.

What’s a SWYC and what does my Pediatrician do with it?

One tool that healthcare providers use to track developmental milestones is the SWYC assessment. The SWYC (Survey of Well-being of Young Children) is a screening tool that helps identify if a child is at risk for developmental delays or behavioral issues. A version of this assessment is typically given to children at well-checks between the ages of 2 months and 5 years.

The SWYC assessment includes several different questionnaires that are filled out by parents. The questionnaires cover a range of topics, including physical development, social and emotional development, and family and community factors that may impact a child’s well-being. The results of the assessment can help healthcare providers identify children who may benefit from follow-up evaluation or support.

It is important to note that the SWYC assessment is just one tool that healthcare providers may use to track developmental milestones. If your child is not meeting milestones at the expected age, your pediatrician will follow up with a conversation, in-person evaluation, and possibly even other assessments to evaluate your child’s development or identify any underlying issues.

In summary, developmental milestones are an important part of your child’s growth and development. At UVP, we screen for milestones at each well-check. As a parent, you can help your child reach these milestones by providing a safe and supportive environment to learn, play, bond, and explore—and continuing to make your child’s well-check appointments.

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