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Expert Q&A: Baby Development

An interview with Jeremy F. Shapiro, MD.

What are the most common questions parents ask about developmental stages? continued...

And usually I tell parents there is no rush to walk. Once children start walking, they never stop! So if your child walks a little later, but is still within the normal age range, there really should be no worries. And maybe you should consider yourself blessed.

Language is another concern. As with walking, there are certain milestones and age ranges, but there also are the occasional 1-year-old who has 10 or 15 words and the 16-month-old who just says “mama” and “dada.”

Again, it really is important to watch all the developmental milestones just to get an overall sense of how the child is doing. But some verbal milestones I look for are a minimum of six to 10 words by 18 months of age, and by 24 months a few two-word phrases and too many words to count.

What are some of the first personality developments in babies?

The first year of a child’s life is truly a magical time, something I try to remind parents of every chance I get. And although you may be losing sleep those first two months, I tell parents that just around the corner is that first social smile, when the baby smiles in response to your smile. About that same time, your baby will begin to coo and watch your movements very closely.

At four months of age, the cooing turns into more vocalization, almost harmonizing, and the smiles expand to laughter. It takes a lot to make babies upset at this stage -- if they’re crying, there’s usually a very good reason.

It’s such a fun time. I tell parents to really enjoy it to its fullest and to make the most of it. Having three children of my own, I know so well how fun this time can be.

What exciting baby milestones can parents look for during the second half of the year?

At about six months of age, infants may start rolling around, trying to sitting up, as they want to see the world more clearly. When you’re sitting upright you can see so much more, so they wonder, “Why should I be lying on my back?”

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