As a parent, especially for first-time dad and mom, you may want to know what the baby development milestones are so that you can compare if your baby is developing normally. However, this may also get parents unnecessarily worried as babies often do not fit into the model developmental chart but instead develop at slightly different pace.
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t be overly worried about your baby’s development!
#1 Development at Baby’s Own Pace
Babies take different amount of time to meet different milestones; for instance, while some babies may develop faster in a certain area such as crawling and walking, they may be slower in other areas such as mimicking sounds and saying words. It is important to know what the various milestones are but not be too concerned if that milestone is met in a certain month, especially when there is usually a large range of normal development.
#2 Normal vs Personal History
Sometimes instead of just looking at growth chart, it may help if you also consider how your baby is growing from month to month, and also how that growth would look like when extrapolated. For instance, if your baby is at the lower percentile of the height chart, but extrapolating that pace of growth, he would be around your height or your spouse’s height, it may then be normal development.
#3 Premature Babies could be Off the Chart
For parents with premature babies, you may want to view growth chart using your baby’s due date rather than the date of birth. Speak with your doctor to discuss about your premature baby’s development if you are concerned of his growth.
However, the milestones in the growth charts do have a role as a reference point; here are certain developmental delays that may be cause for concern!
Motor skills refer to both fine and gross motor skills, for instance such as picking up a spoon, and crawling and walking. While most babies develop at different pace, you may want to check with the doctor if:
– Baby is not able to reach or grasp objects, support the head and bring object to the mouth by four months old
– Baby is not able to push legs with strength, have control over the head, reach for objects by seven months old
– Baby is not able to crawl or stand when supported by one year old
Language and Speech Skills
Language development in babies encompass a broad scope of skills such as recognizing sounds, mimicking sounds and responding to sound/ noise. You may want to check with the doctor if:
– Baby is not responding to loud noise nor babbling by four months old
– Baby is not responding to sounds by seven months old
– Baby is not using simple words by one year old
You may want to check with the doctor if your baby is not able to follow objects or notice hands by two months old, or unable to follow objects (both near and far) by six months old.
Social and Emotional Skills
Some of the delays in social and emotional development could be due to other developmental issues; do check with the doctor if:
– Baby is not affected or reactive to people and facial expressions by three months old
– Baby is not smiling or being interested in games (e.g. peek-a-boo) by seven months old
– Baby is not interacting such as no back-and-forth in sounds or gesturing
Tips for Parents
If you feel anxious all the time or pressured to ensure that your baby keep pace with the growth chart, here are some tips for you!
1. Look at Your Baby, not at the Chart.
If you find that you spend a lot of time looking at charts and asking your spouse if your baby is normal, you may want to shift your focus to looking at your baby. It brings more joy and it may be more accurate gauge of how well your baby is thriving – for instance, how delighted your baby is about crawling (even though he may be two months slower according to the chart!)
2. Trust Yourself
If you have been looking at, and enjoying the time that you have with your baby, you should trust your intuition if you think something is off. Certain delays may be due to more serious health conditions, while others could be temporary. Do not however let the charts or other competitive parents get into your head!
3. Let Your Baby Try
Sometimes it may seem like a struggle for your baby to just reach that object, but it is a necessary process to develop that motor skill and coordination. Do not do everything for your baby that he misses the opportunity to try.
Enjoy the time with your baby and celebrate each milestone without being too worried if the milestone is met as per the growth chart. However if your baby is not progressing from one development stage to the next, and you’re concerned, do check with the doctor.