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Developmental Milestones: What are they and why is it important?

Published on 5/8/2019
As parents, we all are so excited to bring our bundles of joy home. It can be challenging at times like knowing which cry means the little one is hungry, tired, or just wants some mommy and daddy attention. We scramble to get our hands on any “parenting book” available and make sure we have scheduled all the pediatrician appointments. Then we are given some information about developmental milestones. As we say, knowledge is power, but what are these developmental milestones and why is it important for my child?

History of Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones are decades of research across disciplines from pediatrics, psychology, occupational/physical therapy, speech-language pathology etc. which identify a guideline on how typically developing children grow in skills across different domains from ages 0 through adulthood. The domains are key indicators of successful development based upon your child’s age.

Developmental Milestones Domains

Social/Emotional Skills

The child demonstrates the ability to understand others’ feeling, self-control of his/her own feelings and behaviors (ie. self-regulation). As your child grows and meets this domain, he/she will be able to engage in cooperative play, follow directions, exhibit self-control and pay attention. Having strong social/emotional skills during development is the foundation for healthy and long-lasting relationships.

Language & Communication Skills

The child demonstrates the ability to understand words and context (receptive language), body language, and spoken words to communicate his/her wants, needs and ideas (expressive language). Language and communication skills are the prerequisites to speaking, reading, writing and creative thinking which can support them as an adult in achieving their dreams.

Cognitive Skills

The child demonstrates the ability of learning, thinking, and problem-solving. As your child develops cognition, he/she will increase their intellectual capacity too. A child with a strong cognitive skill is the framework for schooling success in adolescence and adulthood.

Movement/Physical Skills

The child demonstrates the ability to engage in gross motor activities (i.e. sit, crawl, walk) and fine motor activities (i.e. holding a marker or spoon). Physical skills are probably one of the first milestone domains parents notice a child meeting like when your baby took his/her first steps. A child with strong movement/physical skills sets the groundwork for him/her having the ability to physically play with friends on the playground and independence in areas of living and job market opportunities as an adult.

My Child and His/Her Progression Through Developmental Milestones

As a parent, it is important to observe your child develop across the domains by the guidelines set forth by the developmental milestones. If your child is not meeting any milestone or domain by a particular age, speak with your pediatrician or medical professional, don’t be alarmed. Remember every child develops at their own pace and the developmental milestones are guidelines. By being aware of your child’s development, you are supporting your child to being a well-rounded, healthy, and happy person.

Written by Krystal Larsen, BCaBA, Director of Clinical Solutions at Ever-Learning