There's more to tracking your baby's development than logging height and weight. There are a number of other childhood milestones to keep watch for.
Pediatrician Michelle Bailey, MD, medical director of Duke Health Center at Southpoint, says you can look for signs of emerging motor and language skills in the very first months of your baby's life.
"Babies begin to vocalize around 1 month," Bailey tells WebMD. "At 3 months, they should push their head up when they're on their stomach. By 4 months, they chatter in response to you and squeal with laughter."
Bailey says it's a good idea for parents to watch for these early childhood milestones, along with the more obvious "firsts" such as walking and talking. Just be careful about comparing your child with peers or older siblings. "Remember that each child is an individual," Bailey says. "There's a wide range for when children achieve a particular milestone. For example, I've seen children walk as early as 9 months or as late as 14 months."
Spotting Developmental Delays
So how can you tell the difference between a child who is just taking his or her time and one who has a true developmental delay? According to Marat Zeltsman, DO, of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, a developmental delay is when a child does not reach a milestone by the upper range of normal. Even though babies develop at their own pace, he explains, "every child should do certain tasks by a certain age." These tasks fall into five main categories:
- Gross motor skills, such as crawling and walking
- Fine motor skills, such as stacking blocks or coloring
- Language skills, including speech and comprehension
- Thinking skills
- Social interaction
Using input from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, WebMD compiled a rough timeline of milestones in the above areas. Remember, a child can stray from this timeline and still be within the range of normal, but it's best to discuss any concerns with your pediatrician.
Timeline of Childhood Milestones
||Smiles at the sound of your voice
||Raises head and chest when lying on stomach
Smiles at other people
||Babbles, laughs, and tries to imitate sounds
||Rolls from back to stomach and stomach to back
Moves objects from hand to hand
||Responds to own name
Finds partially hidden objects
||Sits without support
||Walks with or without support
Says at least one word
Enjoys imitating people
Drinks from a cup
Says at least 15 words
Speaks in two-word sentences
Follows simple instructions
Begins make-believe play
Speaks in multiword sentences
Sorts objects by shape and color
||Gets along with people outside the family
Draws circles and squares
Rides a tricycle
||Tells name and address
Jumps, hops, and skips
Counts 10 or more objects