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."
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
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 and follows you with their eyes as you move around a room
Raises head and chest when lying on stomach Grasps objects Smiles at other people
Babbles, laughs, and tries to imitate sounds; holds head steady
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, crawls, babbles "mama" and "dada"
Walks with or without support Says at least one word Enjoys imitating people
Walks independently, drinks from a cup, says at least 15 words, points to body parts
Runs and jumps Speaks in two-word sentences Follows simple instructions Begins make-believe play
Climbs well 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 Gets dressed Counts 10 or more objects