Developmental milestones are an indication that we (health professionals and parents) look for to keep track of and reassure us that all is well with baby.
They are an INDICATION of normal development and while they are pretty reliable indicators, they are also flexible and depend on other factors, for example prematurity and environment.
Premmy babies have milestones assessed using corrected age. A full term baby who is the third in the family may be an early developer because they mimic older siblings behaviour or they may be slower developers because they have older siblings who do things for them.
So the point is that if you are looking at the normal development of your baby based solely on milestone assessment, then don’t be alarmed if they are not reaching expected goals.
Many babies reach milestones early and many babies reach them a bit later. The important thing is that they reach them at some stage and continue to develop and grow. Babies development is cephalocaudal which just means head to toe (brain to lower spinal cord) so it makes sense that the upper body-head and arm control happens before lower limbs and fine movement.
You can check your baby’s milestone indicators in the baby record book you are given in hospital (these booklets are a great resource for many things). Here are just a few of my favourite milestones that I enjoy looking out for.
The first smile (around 6 – 8 weeks)-
Highly prized and anticipated by parents.
Chuckles and laughs (around 6 months) –
I don’t think there is anything that tops the sound of a baby laughing and after seeing the joy their laughter brings, they start to laugh at pretty much anything.
The pincer grip (around 9 months) –
The transition from transfering an object from one hand to the other is refined to being able to pick things up and control them with the thumb and forefinger.
Searching for objects (also around 9 months) –
You will no longer be able to rely on the out of sight out of mind diversion that worked so well until now.
There are so many more and it is fun identifying and recognising that your baby is developing and learning so much. Remember, they are indicators and many babies will reach their milestones earlier or later depending on other factors. It’s not a race to see if your baby reaches a certain milestone first but if you have genuine concerns that milestones are delayed, then you should certainly have a conversation with your child health nurse or GP.
Feel free to share your favourite milestones.
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