If you’ve ever wondered if your child’s hitting all their milestones, you wouldn’t be the first parent. Every new mom and dad is curious, and sometimes even concerned about development, says Stephen Turner, MD, a pediatrician from Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
8 Quick-Hits About Milestones from a Pediatrician
1. Walking is extremely variable.
“Most first-time parents don’t realize that up to 18 months is normal — and walking later is not a reflection of intelligence in any way.”
2. Don’t expect a ton of speech from birth to 12 months.
“Not that much happens in the first year,” says Dr. Turner. “At two months, they may start vocalizing. By four months, you’ll see laughing, and get the sense that they hear and see you. From six to nine months, they’ll start babbling, and saying mama and dada — by one year, ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ should feel specific in nature.”
3. Know the most commonly-missed milestone.
“The pincer grasp, or clasping items between the thumb and index finger, is a nine-month skill,” says Dr. Turner. “Some of it is just giving them the opportunity.” Hand your child objects and let them play on the floor with toys and blocks for practice.
4. Tummy time is crucial.
“This really helps develop gross motor skills,” says Dr. Turner. “Also, holding hands and walking with them as they take their first steps will help.”
5. Talk to your baby like any other person.
It’s really that simple, and you should start right away. “If you have a concern about their speech development as they grow, make them use their speech skills,” says Dr. Turner. “If they groan or grunt, it’s not encouraging. Name each item for them, and use lots of repetition to help them learn.”
6. Second and third children often develop language faster.
“In some ways, it’s just easier because everyone in the house is talking all the time,” says Dr. Turner.
7. Second and third children also tend to develop gross motor skills later.
“They’re delayed,” says Dr. Turner. “This is because moms are usually chasing the other kids, so they’re being carried for the first 12 to 15 months of their lives. They get less tummy time.” If you’re aware up front, you can make a concerted effort.
8. You’re concerned? Don’t panic. It’s probably okay.
“It’s definitely more common for parents to be concerned and the child is normal,” says Dr. Turner.
So, remember to relax and breathe. Milestones are not a race. Every baby has his or her own pace, and there’s no cookie-cutter for development — so always ask your pediatrician if you’re concerned.
You’ll rest easier at night!
Stephen Turner, MD, a pediatrician from Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights, New York.