What are growth and development milestones?
Growth and development milestones help you see how your child is doing compared with other children the same age. The milestones tell you what you should expect from your child in five areas:
- Physical growth
- Thinking and reasoning (cognitive development)
- Emotional and social development
- Language development
- Sensory and motor development
If your child is meeting the milestones, his or her development is on track. If your child continually misses milestones or reaches a milestone but then loses that new ability, he or she may need extra help from your doctor or a specialist.
Your child's doctor will check for certain milestones at routine checkups. But it's also important for you to learn what milestones to watch for. Look for sources of information and support nearby, such as public health clinics, parent groups, or child development programs. Or ask your child's doctor.
Children usually move in a natural and predictable way from one milestone to the next. But each child grows and gains skills at his or her own pace. Some children may be advanced in one area, such as language, but behind in another, such as sensory and motor development.
What are the milestones for ages 1 through 10?
What are the milestones for older children and teens?
When should you call the doctor?
Call your doctor if you are concerned that your child or teen is not growing adequately or is not reaching major developmental milestones in any area.
It is also a good idea to call your doctor if your child or teen:
- Shows delays in several developmental areas.
- Successfully reaches a developmental milestone but then loses the new ability.
Sometimes there is a reason that a child is not meeting a milestone. Things like having an existing health problem, trouble hearing, or an emotional life change may cause a mild and temporary delay in reaching a milestone. For example, a young child may have a language delay because of trouble hearing or because of a developmental disorder such as autism.
Although your child grows at his or her own pace, be aware of signs of a developmental delay. The earlier you identify a delay, the better chance your child has to get the right treatment to help his or her future development.