Children's developmental milestones mark important developmental achievements in children as they grow. Milestones help parents and caregivers understand what skills and abilities their child is likely to be developing at different stages. Milestones are also important to help identify potential areas of concern or developmental delays.
The first five years of a child's life are vital times for growth and development. We learn more in the first 5 years of life than any other period hereafter. While each baby develops at different speeds, it is a good idea to check up on their accomplishments every now and then to see if they're developing, growing and learning as anticipated.
Developmental milestones examples are :
Gross Motor: Rolling, sitting, crawl, pulling to stand, walking
Fine Motor: grasp, release, picking up small objects, bring toys to midline, pincer grasp, holding a crayon
Language/Communication: Babbling, saying first words, putting two words together, forming sentences
Social: How they react to new people, expressing emotions, sharing toys.
Emotional: Regulation, fear of strangers, separation anxiety, tantrums.
Why is child development important?
There is mounting evidence that the developing brain benefits from "critical periods" or milestones in infancy and young children when it comes to absorbing and learning new skills. Learning may be more difficult, as well as less efficient, if these milestones are passed by. To ensure that children reach their 'developmental milestones,' tracking and monitoring development are critical tools.
In the first 12 months of life a baby learns an extraordinary number of new skills. They learn to focus their eyes and look at the world and people around them, as their eye muscles get stronger, they can focus on more detail, they can see distances and turn their eyes to focus on objects/people/sounds. They visually discriminate between faces and objects and recognises purpose to them. They learn about their body and where it is positioned in space, they start developing a body scheme or map, they recognise they have hands and feet and how they can use them. They learn to roll, sit, crawl, transition from laying on the floor to sitting up, to pulling to stand, and walk. They refine their oral motor muscles and sensations as they learn to suck, chew, swallow and start babbling and talking. They start early signs of problem solving, they bring blocks together and it makes a sound (cause and effect), or an object drops out of view, and they know they can look for it (object permeance).
We must remember that all children develop at different rates.
Some children may be walking or cruising at 9 months, where others may not start walking until 15 months. Some children are very chatty at 14 months, while others may not string words together until 2 1/2. It's important not to compare your child or their development with others, but rather focus on the unique child that is in front of you.
At KiddOTherapy, we believe in a holistic approach to occupational therapy and support your child's physical, cognitive, social, emotional and language development through our tailored occupational therapy services.
What happens when there are problems with child development?
Some signs that may indicate your child needs some support in reaching milestones are
They are struggling to hold their head up by 3-4 months
They aren't reaching for objects by 6 months
They aren’t exploring their environment or toys and people around them
Problems with movement, coordination, or balance – they have difficulty moving both arms or both legs or unable to roll
They do not bring their feet and hands to their mouth by 8months
Unable to sit independently by 10 months
They do not want to take weight on their legs to stand with support by 12months – including pulling to stand
They don’t respond to their name even when hearing is unaffected
Limited interest in people or things
They don’t make eye contact or show pleasure of joint attention with others
Delayed speech and language - they aren't babbling or using sounds, they do no show interest in you when you speak
Inattentive, overactive, or impulsive behaviour
Being overly passive or withdrawn
Large reactions to sights, sounds, tastes, smells or textures
If you are concerned about your child's development, or if they are not meeting milestones that are expected for their age, it is important to talk to your GP, paediatrician or an occupational therapist.
As parents, you want your child to grow up in an environment that allows them to have fun while also preparing them to be the best adults they can be later in life. The first six years of a kiddo's life are crucial for their growth and development, and occupational therapy can help ensure that they are reaching their milestones at the right pace and that any delays or concerns are addressed early on. Whether it's working with your kiddo to help them learn how to explore and play or teach them how to move their body, occupational therapists can support your child's growth in all areas.
At KiddOTherapy we are often asked:
KiddOTherapy’s Occupational therapist can assess developmental milestones and can provide guidance on how to encourage and support your child's development.
Provide targeted intervention to support the development of skills like fine motor and gross motor, which are essential for achieving many milestones.
Provide occupational therapy activities that help children engage in meaningful play and interact with others, both of which are important aspects of social and cognitive development.
Work closely with parents or caregivers to provide guidance on how best to support their child's development at home.
Occupational therapy can help!
If you're concerned about your child's development, or if they are not meeting milestones, don't hesitate to reach out to an occupational therapist for help.
The team at KiddOTherapy are more than happy to talk through your concerns and help you with more information on occupational therapy and how it can assist your family.