After the successful birth of a healthy baby girl or boy, many parents begin to immediately look ahead to their child’s next important developmental milestone. While inadequate development may signal a health concern, parents must appreciate the fact that milestones are not exact and that all children develop at different rates.
The first series of developmental milestones generally play out around 3 months of age. Around this time, infants should start lifting their heads and chests when left on the floor, a precursor to crawling. Three-month-old children should move other body parts when stimulated, while voices and other activities should prompt facial responses. Around six months, milestones focus on the child’s interactions with the surrounding environment. The child should, for instance, reach out for favorite toys when they are nearby and laugh when having a positive interaction with another person.
Around nine months, developmental milestones become more nuanced. If a toy is taken from a child and placed, for example, behind a pillow, the child should make attempts to move the pillow and reclaim the toy. Children should also begin feeding themselves smaller pieces of food, such as Cheerios, and can begin to stand up on their own around this age. Stranger anxiety also starts to begin around nine months.
Talking and walking are arguably the two most important milestones for parents. Walking can occur anywhere from 9 to 18 months, though some 18-month-olds may be running while others are taking their first timid steps. Talking, on the other hand, begins as early as six months as children use different sounds to identify different items or emotions. This may not develop into full speech for some time, as a 36-month-old child may still be talking in three or four word sentences.