Is your little one on track?

We know, we know. Every kid hits milestones at his own pace. So, no, you shouldn’t freak out if yours isn’t walking at 9 months.

Every child travels a developmental journey that begins in the womb and lasts a lifetime. While each child’s journey is unique, everyone follows a similar path. One milestone leads to another as one skill builds on the next. Scooting leads to crawling which leads to walking.

Watching your child grow and develop is one of the most exiting parts of being a parent, especially in the early months when it seems every day brings a new skill. For every developmental milestone, there is a normal range in which a child may reach that milestone.  For example, walking may begin as early as 8 months or as late as 14 months, and may be considered normal.

So, how can you tell the difference between a child who’s just taking his or her time and one who has a true developmental delay? Being able to master certain tasks at a certain age is not optional. Research has shown that identifying delayed milestones early is important; the sooner the intervention the better the outcome.

There are many normal paces and patterns of child development.

Birth to one year

During this time baby should be able to:

  • Drink from a cup.
  • Sit alone.
  • Babble
  • Get his first tooth.
  • Play peek-a-boo.
  • Roll over.
  • Say “mama” and “dada”.
  • Walk while holding onto furniture.

Toddler – 1-3 years

Look out for these milestones during this period:

  • Feeding himself.
  • Being able to draw a line.
  • Able to run, pivot and walk backwards.
  • Able to say first and last name.
  • Riding a tricycle.
  • Naming body parts.
  • Dressing himself with a little help.
  • Learning to share and take turns.
  • Recognizing colours.
  • Mastering the art of walking.

Pre-schooler – 3-6 years

A pre-schooler should be:

  • Able to draw a circle and a square as well as stick figures.
  • Ready to ride a bike.
  • Able to recognize written words.
  • Able to catch a bounced ball.
  • Enjoying doing things independently.
  • Enjoying rhymes and word play.
  • Able to hop on one foot.
  • Able to understand size and time concepts.

Remember, a child can stray from this timeline and still be within the range of normal. All children are different and develop different skills at different times.

How to help your little one meet these milestones:

We often think that we need to buy special toys and games to stimulate our child’s development, but the every-day activities you do with your child should not be underestimated.

  • Make sure your child gets a lot of love and attention. Hugs and kisses for all ages!
  • Interact by talking, playing and singing to your child. This will make him feel special, loved and nurtured.
  • Read, read, and read! Research has proved over and over again that kids who are read to by their parents, have a larger vocabulary.
  • Have consistent rules to teach them how to behave. Reward good behaviour and punish bad behaviour.
  • Find fun doing everyday tasks together. Let him count the pegs while you are hanging out the washing.
  • Prepare meals together. This can set your child up for a life-long habit of healthy eating. Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of developmental delays in kids.

If you are worried that your child seems “out of step” with others of the same age, talk to your doctor who will most likely refer you to a paediatrician. Early intervention and support is crucial.

See more healthy living tips at the Fedhealthy blog.

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