As new parents, we’re eagerly watching and marking those special milestones our little ones reach. Developmental milestones are essential “progress” benchmarks for infants and toddlers as they grow and learn. These milestones help to ensure that our little ones are developing well and can indicate any potential problems that may require further evaluation. As we explore some basic milestones that infants and toddlers reach, remember that the spectrum for “normal” is quite broad.
During the first year of life, infants go through many developmental milestones. Some of the key milestones for this age group include:
- Smiling: Infants typically start to smile around 6 weeks of age.
- Lifting head: Around 3 months, infants will begin to lift their heads while lying on their stomachs.
- Rolling over: Around 4-6 months, infants will start to roll over from their tummies to their backs.
- Sitting up: Around 6-9 months, infants will learn to sit up independently.
- Crawling: Around 9-12 months, infants will start to crawl on their hands and knees.
- Walking: Around 12-15 months, infants begin to take their first steps.
During the toddler years (1-3 years old), children continue to develop at a rapid pace. Some of the significant milestones for this age group include:
- Using words: Toddlers will start to use words to communicate their needs and wants. What’s so memorable is how they “mispronounce” words as they learn them. Think about the cute things your toddlers say.
- Imitating others: Toddlers will start to mimic the actions of those around them. This is one of the reasons experts emphasise that children will do as they see and not as they are told.
- Playing with toys: Toddlers will start to play with toys more intentionally, such as stacking blocks or fitting objects into a shape sorter.
- Drawing: Toddlers may show interest in drawing and creating simple lines and shapes.
- Throwing and catching: Toddlers will start to develop their gross motor skills and may be able to throw and catch a ball.
Children are different and will reach various milestones at different times. This is no time to compare. These milestones are merely general guidelines, and as stated, there is a wide range of “normal” development.
If you are concerned, it’s best to speak to your healthcare practitioner. Don’t try to diagnose anything on your own. Your healthcare practitioner will be able to assess your child’s development and provide you with guidance and support should you need it.
Supporting their development
So, moms and dads, what can you do to support your little ones. You can do various things to aid the development of your infants or toddlers. Some of these include:
- Providing a safe and stimulating environment: Children learn best when they are free to explore. Providing a safe and stimulating environment, such as a child-proofed room with age-appropriate toys and activities, can support your child’s development.
- Encouraging play: Play is essential for children to learn and explore. Please encourage your child to play with toys and engage in activities that are appropriate for their age.
- Reading to your child: Reading is the best way to support language development. It is also a great bonding activity and can help to foster a love of reading in your child.
- Providing a consistent routine: Children thrive on routine and consistency. A consistent routine, such as regular meals and sleep times, can help support your child’s development.
- Encouraging independence: As your child grows, it is vital to encourage them to become more independent. This can involve things guiding them to dress themselves or allowing them to make simple choices.
Enjoy every moment of the milestone your little ones are at. They grow faster than we realise.