Updated: Jun 1
What are developmental Milestones?
Our Paediatrician Expert Dr Lexi Frydenberg gives us the lowdown.
Developmental milestones are a set of skills or abilities that most children achieve by a certain age range. These milestones can include physical, cognitive, language, and social-emotional skills, and are important markers of a child's growth and development. They can help parents and caregivers track a child's progress and identify potential developmental delays or concerns.
Why are developmental milestones important?
Developmental milestones are important so we can identify any causative or contributing factors that may need treatment, as well as commence early intervention with your child and help support your family in order to optimise your child’s development.
Early childhood development is extremely important in the first few years of life. Babies brains develop faster in the first 5 years of life than at any other time.
In general, development happens in the same order in most children, but skills might develop at different ages or times. Developmental milestones vary enormously.
Developmental milestones from age 0-2 years
In a broad sense, we divide Development into 4 main areas:
- Gross motor skills- large body movements
- Fine motor skills- small body movements
It is extremely important not to forget VISION and HEARING, as if your child has difficulty seeing or hearing, their development will be impacted.
1-2 month old baby milestones
- Responds to/calms when picked up
- Start looking at your face
- Listening to voices/reacting to loud sounds
- Enjoy social interactions
- Holds head up when on tummy
- Moves both arms and legs
3-6 month baby milestones
- Start recognising familiar faces
- Laugh, show excitement-waving arms and legs
- Show interest in people and start responding to name
- language- squealing noises, takes turns making sounds with you Gross motor:
- Rolls- 4-5 mths
- Pushes up when put on tummy
- Sitting- 6 mths - leans hands to support
- Reaches and grabs a toy
- Puts things in the mouth
9-month old baby milestones
- Understand & shows a few different emotions-happy, sad, angry
- Differentiate between familiar people and strangers-clingy
- Enjoy peek a boo
- Reacts when you leave the room
- Sitting independently
- May start crawling
- Reaches, grabs and transfers
- Rake food towards them, start developing a pincer grip
1-year old baby milestones
- Show affection and love
- Respond to their name
- Show fear in new situations
- Understand simple commands
- Wave goodbye and shake head 'no'
- More curious- explore surroundings, shake, bang, throw things, look for hidden toy
- Few words- mama and dada
- Follow simple instructions
- Pulls up to stand
- Walking/ furniture walking
- Drinks from a cup
- Finger feeds
18-month-old baby milestones
- Points to show you something
- Might look at a few pages of a book with you
- Helps you dress
- Start to say a few more words
- Follows 1-step instruction
- Walks independently
- Climbs on and off the couch
- Drinks from a cup
- Finger feed
- Try to use a spoon
2-year old baby milestones
- Excited to see other children
- Still parallel play mainly
- Talks- 2-4 word sentences
- Follow simple instructions
- Name familiar people
- Point to body parts or pictures in a book
- Walking well
- Kicks a ball
- Eats with a spoon
- Build a tower with a few blocks
- Start sorting colours and shapes
What do I do if my child isn’t reaching their milestones?
In Australia, the Maternal Child Health Nurse (MCHN) system has been developed to recommend MCHN review appointments at key developmental stages. This is to screen for developmental concerns (growth, well-being, family support etc.). If your MCHN is concerned- they will refer you to your GP.
However, if you have missed MCHN appointments/checks due to COVID or other reasons and you are concerned, please arrange a review with your GP
If your GP is concerned about your child and their development, they may arrange some initial testing of hearing, vision, blood tests etc and may refer your child to a paediatrician for further assessment/workup.
Suppose your GP has concerns about a specific area of your child's development. In that case, they may refer you to an appropriate paediatric allied health professional eg: A physio for gross motor issues, an Occupational therapist for fine motor issues, or a Speech pathologist for language/communication issues.
How to stimulate baby brain development
Development and learning occur through play and social interaction. Our role as parents is to gently encourage our babies but to know that they will develop at their own pace. It is a fine balance between supporting your child and letting them do things for themselves and make mistakes
Your job, as a parent, is to give your child the opportunity to explore, play and interact, in a caring, safe environment.
When should I seek help about childhood development milestones
Development red flags
If any of the below occur at any stage of your child’s development, we call these red flags and recommend a review with your Maternal Child Health Nurse, GP and/or General Paediatrician.
- Strong parental concerns- parental instinct is important
- Significant loss of skills (motor or language etc)
- Lack of response to sound or visual stimuli
- Poor interaction with adults or other children
- Lack of or limited eye contact
- Differences between the right and left sides of the body in strength, movement or tone
- Marked low tone (floppy) or high tone ( tense and stiff) and significantly impacting on development and functional motor skills
- If your GP or MCHN is worried about your child’s development, worth seeking help
There are some good websites that you can look at, but no substitute for getting YOUR CHILD assessed, as each child is different
Raising Children Network
CDC-Recently updated their checklist for the first time in 20 years- more focus on social and emotional development
For further information about the common child and adolescent health issues
To learn more about what to expect at each stage of the parenting journey, purchase our Parting Portal or secure your spot at one of our expert-led, parental education masterclasses.