Child Development Through the Years
Baby’s first two years is an exciting time for both you and your child as they grow, explore and begin to do new things, like smiling, walking, talking and socializing with family and new friends.
Although most children reach developmental milestones at specific ages, some children may develop sooner or take longer to reach them. Your pediatrician will address age-specific milestones at your baby’s well-child visits, but be sure to bring up any questions or concerns regarding your child’s development.
Here are a few milestones to look forward to as your child grows:
By 2 months: Looking for mom or dad and focusing on faces.
By 4 months: Mimics facial expressions, such as smiling or frowning, and is responsive to affection.
By 6 months: Begins bringing objects to mouth and enjoys seeing himself or herself in the mirror.
By 9 months: Is able to pick up favorite toys or smaller items between his or her thumb and forefinger.
Around 12 months: Begins follows simple directions such as sticking out arm or leg when being dressed.
At 18 months: Is able to identify body parts when asked and explores alone when parent is close by.
By 2 years: Begins recognizing shapes and colors. Recognizes and even gets excited to see friends.
Now that the “terrible twos” are officially over, the fun years of fantasy, imagination and preparing to enter early years of school are quickly approaching. During the next few years, he or she will mature in many areas. An annual visit with the pediatrician will help ensure your child is achieving the necessary milestones to advance into preschool, kindergarten and eventually grade school.
Your child’s annual well-child check up with the pediatrician will cover milestones such as:
- Movement milestones including hops and stands on one foot up to five seconds, goes up and down stairs without support and can quickly move forward and backward.
- Milestones in hand and finger skills including draws or copies circle and square shapes, draws a person with two to four body parts and uses scissors.
- Language milestones including understands concepts of “same” and “different”, speaks in 5-6 word sentences, and speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand and tells stories.
- Cognitive milestones including correctly naming some colors, understands the concept of counting and may know some numbers, follows three-part instructions, and participates in fantasy play.
- Social and emotional milestones including interested in new experiences, plays well with other children including playing house or “Mom” or “Dad”, can dress and undress themselves, and is more independent.
No matter what grade your child is entering, a yearly well-child exam with a pediatrician is an important part of your child’s health. The back-to-school season or around your child’s birthday is a fitting time to schedule your child’s well-child visit.
Adolescence is a time when vital changes are happening in your child’s life. It is important to have your child see the pediatrician as your child is shifting from childhood to puberty. The annual exam gives the pediatrician a chance to give your child a thorough physical exam and address any emotional, developmental, or social concerns.
The exam also offers the doctor time to provide wellness guidance and advice on topics such as:
- Monitoring heart and blood pressure
- Testing for diabetes
- Discuss diet and exercise options
- Pediatric vision screenings
- Testing for cholesterol and anemia
A healthy childhood and adolescence includes balancing home life, school, social, sports, and extracurricular activities. It may not be easy for your child especially as they are going through the years of growth, learning, exploration, and emotional and physical development. This is all the more reason to set aside one day during each of those years for your child to see the pediatrician.
It is also a good chance to address important questions, especially with teenagers, including adolescent issues of drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity, and depression. For athletes, the pediatrician can also address sports-specific issues, including injuries, nutrition, training and exercise programs, and even attitudes in the course of the exam.
For more education on your child’s development visit www.healthchildren.org.