Developmental milestones are indicators of how much infants and children have grown. These milestones encompass physical, linguistic, social and emotional development and are different for each age range.
Gina: I always say this but unfortunately, babies don’t come with an instruction manual. And parenting is a skill you just kind of learn through trial and error. I mean things like — is my baby developing slower than others? Why isn’t my baby rolling over? And what are some of the parenting tips that every parent needs? Well luckily, today we have an expert here with us. Dr. Tina Scott is here to talk about developmental stages and milestones for baby’s first year. This is gonna be a fun conversation because, first of all, I love babies.
Dr. Tina Scott: They are funny little critters.
Developmental Stages and Milestones
Gina: They really, really are and it’s a fun conversation because I think a lot of parents have stress over — particularly a lot of things — but one of those things is developmental stages and milestones. So, let’s talk about some of those. What is appropriate for what age?
Dr. Scott: Right. So — and I agree. Parents have a lot of anxiety around this because they get a lot of information. I feel so awful some days for new parents because they get information from social media, they get information from their friends —
Dr. Scott: From parents. I like to remind them that your friend’s babies always sleep through the night when they’re two weeks old. They are not sleeping through the night. They’re all walking by a year. They are not! That’s just what they put on Facebook or Instagram or whatever social media app people are using.
Gina: It’s all the good stuff.
Dr. Scott: It’s all the good stuff. You don’t hear about the bad stuff.
So, when babies develop, there’s kind of a spectrum of development that we have to keep in mind. There’s a range of times when babies that are developing normally will reach milestones. So, somewhere around 5 weeks, a baby is gonna smile at you. Maybe they’re smiling a little in their sleep prior to that, but they’re gonna smile at you around 5 weeks.
Additionally, in that first 1 to 3 months, they’re gonna start cooing, they’re gonna start engaging you by looking at you or when you look at them and talk to them, they’re gonna look at you. They’re gonna start kind of swatting a little bit and grabbing at you, or at least in the general direction of you.
And then as they get 4 to 6 months, they’re gonna start rolling over, they’re gonna start getting more mobile. They may get on their tummy and start scooting. They’re gonna have better head and neck control, particularly if we give them appropriate tummy time. They’re gonna sit with some support and they are really gonna start grabbing at you now. And they’re gonna grab and they’re gonna hold, so watch your hair and your earrings.
And then — then they kind of progress in that 6 to 9 month period where they’re gonna start crawling. And I wanna point out — I am saying ranges because this is when it happens, in ranges. 6 to 9 months — they’ll start crawling, they’ll start sitting independently, they’ll start kind of babbling a little bit.
And then from 9 [months] to 1, you may see them standing on their own a little — they may start cruising around furniture. Some babies will start walking in that time frame. They’ll start using “mama”, “dada”, “uh-oh”, being more interactive with games that you play with them — peek-a-boo, things like that. And then babies tend to walk around 1 but some babies, even at that, won’t walk until 15 months. I think it’s important to keep those kinds of milestones in mind.
More importantly, I would say if you find your baby seems to be progressing along those milestones and then loses milestones, that’s when it’s time to have a conversation with your doctor — maybe even outside of the normal healthcare maintenance visits. You know, we do our healthcare maintenance visits pretty routinely that first two years of life so that we can talk about development with families, so that we can catch children that are falling behind and get them caught up.
Every Child is Different
Gina Melton: Yeah. Well, I had two boys very close together — 20 months apart and they both couldn’t have been more different in their development. And when I had Parker, my first baby, I was like, “Okay, well he’s doing the things at the time.” And then Grant was just a little further behind that. I thought — is something wrong? And I started panicking about that. But what I’m hearing you say is every kid is different.
Dr. Scott: Every kid is different. Every kid is different and you know, all that said, if in your gut you feel like something’s wrong with your baby developmentally, address it with your pediatrician for sure. That holds true for anything when it comes to parenting. If it doesn’t feel right, talk to somebody. But there is a spectrum of development for kids. And everyone — every baby develops at a little bit different rate and what you observed is what causes anxiety in many parents.
You see your child and they’re here and then you see another child that is rapidly catching up or has exceeded them developmentally and then it causes some stress and worry — which I would argue, please don’t stress and worry. Call your pediatrician and I mean, use us. That’s what we’re there for. But yeah, there is definitely — there are milestones to be hit and they may go out of order as well. So, if your baby’s not crawling and all of a sudden they’re kind of pulling themselves up to stand, don’t worry. I have never seen a normal child that couldn’t crawl at some point in time.
Dr. Scott: They just might not wanna crawl when they’re 6 months, 9 months old.
Gina: Sure. Or they might be doing the army crawl.
Dr. Scott: Or they’re doing the army crawl.
Gina: Yeah, that whole thing.
Dr. Scott: But I promise you when they’re trying to get away from you when they’re two, they are going to crawl under something.
Consulting your Pediatrician
Gina: I was thinking about what you’re saying. Call your pediatrician if you have any questions. I always thought, “Oh, I feel bad for calling.” But really that’s — do you get that a lot?
Dr. Scott: You know, I get people that worry about calling and that is why we are there. I’m just gonna make a statement that I believe to be true. I think pediatricians are amongst the nicest people in the world.
Gina: Very true, very true.
Dr. Scott: They are — we’ve picked this career for a reason, because we wanna help people, we wanna help parents, and we wanna help kids. So, if anywhere along the line — developmentally or anywhere else — when it comes to your child, that something doesn’t feel right or you’re like, “Well, this is a silly question.” Don’t think that. Just call and ask. I always tell my parents, “If it’s truly a silly question, I’ll give you the answer and then we’ll laugh together.”
Gina: True. I love that.
Dr. Scott: Right?
Gina: And I’m imagining, you hear a lot of questions that parents think — I must be the only one that’s asking you this question.
Dr. Scott: Absolutely.
Dr. Scott: Absolutely.
Gina: But that’s for sure not true.
Dr. Scott: No.
Gina: You’ve probably been asked that before.
Dr. Scott: You get — yeah. I mean even the whole — my baby’s not crawling. They’re pulling themselves up and they missed the crawling phase. Okay. No. They’re gonna crawl. They’re just doing this one instead of that one. It’s fine. You know it just — it depends on the child and you get that a lot.
Or language — communication is a big one. Parents always worry that their 2 year old doesn’t have 50 words and isn’t — doesn’t have multiple two word sentences. Well again, we’re talking about a spectrum of development and truthfully babies will — babies, 2 year olds — some are just kind of talking up a storm and you can’t understand a dang thing they’re saying. And then you’ve got another one who’s talking in complete sentences and can tell you they want a cup of milk.
Dr. Scott: It’s — I have these conversations, truthfully, all day everyday to reassure parents that all babies are developing differently and all parents worry the same.
Promote Your Baby’s Development
Gina: They worry the same. And are parents wanting — like what if parents say “can I” and “should I” speed up their development. Like, “Should I be helping them roll over? Should I be…“ You know, things like that.
Dr. Scott: Right. So, you don’t know that you could speed up their development, but you certainly should be down on the floor working with your kids, playing with your kids. The wonderful thing about children in general is they learn by playing. That’s how they learn. I wish as adults that’s how they would teach us stuff because it’d be way more fun.
Gina: It’d be great!
Dr. Scott: But instead of Zoom meetings — right?
Gina: Instead of Zoom meetings!
Dr. Scott: Boring! Or things like — just pictures of things and people talking. No. Kids learn by playing. So, even when your baby’s down on tummy time that doesn’t — when they’re two weeks old, one month old — doesn’t mean the baby’s on the floor on a blanket on its tummy and you’re sitting in a — on a chair on your phone. Get down on the floor and be with that baby. Tummy time can be chest to chest with a parent. We’re working on their neck and back muscles. So, make them look at you.
You need to be interacting with your child. So, I don’t know that you can necessarily speed up development, but you certainly can help development progress by getting down with your child and playing with your child, interacting with your child. Anyone that knows me knows reading is very important to me. Books are very important to me. Books are a great way to help with not just even development of language, but development of fine motor skills, gross motor skills. You give a 6 month old baby [a book] and what’s the first thing they do with it? They put it in their mouth. That’s normal.
Dr. Scott: I see parents all the time and they’re trying to take it out of their mouth and I’m like no, it’s cool. I gave them a board book for a reason. I want it in their mouth. That’s what they do. They’re exploring it. They’re exploring with their mouth. They’re exploring with their hands. It’s an important part of development for them. So, yeah, speed up your baby’s development by just hanging with them.
Gina: By just doing —
Dr. Scott: Just doing it.
Gina: Yeah, just doing that. And so, that’s the way we can support them — is really just by having fun with them.
Dr. Scott: By having fun with them and playing with them. Yeah. We get them little for a short period of time. Take advantage of it.
Gina: I know. This is all making me wanna have another baby.
Dr. Scott: Get a puppy, it’s easier. And we know it’s not. It’s really not.
Gina: But the great news is, the physicians at Children’s Hospital are wonderful to work with.
Dr. Scott: They are! And just like I said, pediatricians in general — I promise you, I would not have chosen this career if I didn’t like kids and I didn’t like pediatricians. They’re just awesome people and they wanna help. We wanna help families. That’s why we do it.
Gina: Yeah, I love that. Thank you so much, Dr. Scott. This was really great.
Dr. Scott: You’re welcome.
Gina: All right. Thank you. And thanks so much for listening to the Just Kids Health podcast and remember to rate, review, and subscribe. And for more information on how we could help your child, visit http://childrensomaha.org and follow us on social media.