And they’re off! From crawling for the first time to those precious first steps, baby’s life (and yours) will not slow down. As the changes continue to come rapidly, so will the questions. Know what to look for and where to find assistance, and this time in your family’s life will be filled with wonderful memories. And a few tumbles, too.
It is very important for parents and caregivers to know if their children are meeting their Developmental Milestones. Comparing your child’s progress to their siblings or cousins may be helpful, but it only tells part of the story since each child is special and develops in their own unique way.
These websites have excellent Developmental Checklists that are based on studies of thousands of babies in thousands of different circumstances – not just your baby’s cousins or friends.
If you find that your baby is on track, congratulations! You must be doing things right! Look ahead at the next developmental phase to know what you can expect and what you can do to help your little one along.
If you find that your baby is lagging behind, don’t worry but don’t wait! Ask your pediatrician or an early childhood specialist for guidance to get baby back on track. The earlier you act, the easier it will be to reach all those milestones.
Developmental Milestones: Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Take a fun developmental milestone quiz to find out if your child is on track or download the free mobile app. This site breaks down development into four categories; social/emotional, language/ communication, cognitive, and movement/physical development. It also has videos so parents can see first hand what each milestone looks like.
Zero to Three
This is a premier source of information on babies. Their website has tons of great evidence-based information for parents. You could spend hours roaming around and never exhaust it. Three of the best in our opinion are:
- Baby Brain Map This a very cool graphic that shows specific brain activity from prenatal to 3 years old and gives parents and caregivers ideas on how to stimulate brain growth.
- Age-Based Handouts This set of nine, age-based handouts includes what to expect developmentally from your child, how you can help your child learn at each stage, frequently asked questions and answers, and a spotlight section that goes into greater depth on a common issue or challenge for each age.
- From Baby to Big Kid Sign up for a monthly e-newsletter that offers age-based information about child development, in-depth articles on common child-rearing issues and challenges, parent-child play activities that promote bonding and learning, frequently asked questions, and research on child development.
Ages and Stages Questionnaire
Ages and Stages is a developmental screening tool used by many pediatricians and family doctors in our area as well as early childhood programs and preschools. Each questionnaire is age appropriate and has 20 questions about what your baby can do. The questionnaire is scored and will tell you if your child is developing on track, needs some more practice in a certain area, or is experiencing a developmental delay. It also provides great suggestions for activities to guide your little ones in their progress, especially in areas where they need more help. Parents can use the online Ages and Stages Questionnaire offered by the Easter Seals Foundation for no cost. This is a valuable tool for parents to assure them of their baby’s development progress or in pin-pointing delays early.
This is a United Way website with excellent developmental milestones pages and great tips on how to encourage development and learning. Check out the Learning on the Go section for fun ways to make every experience a learning experience.
- Early On (231) 767-7253
Early On offers assessment of infants and toddlers for developmental delays or established conditions that may lead to delays. They also offer services to meet developmental needs of infants and toddlers.
Emergent and Early Literacy
Did you know that your infant is developing language and literacy skills from the moment of birth (actually from before birth)? Listening to your voice – whether you are speaking, singing or babbling – is stimulating your baby’s brain and helping her to develop language patterns, intonation, and vocabulary. The more you talk and sing to your baby, the stronger her language and literacy skills will be, especially at a very young age. Baby’s brain is at its peak of forming the connections for language at about 12 months old. Reading to your baby every day is one of the most important things you can do to help your little one become a reader and be successful in school. Check out some of these excellent resources to get good ideas on how to help your child.
- Fruitport District Library (231) 865-3151
- Great Start Play and Learn Groups – 231-767-7285
- Hackley Public Library Storytimes (231) 722-7276
- Muskegon Area District Library (231) 737-6248
- READ Muskegon (231)747-7273
- White Lake Community Library – (231) 894-9531
- Read early. Read often. 767-7285
- United Way of the Lakeshore’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library – Sign up today to have a free book delivered to you child in the mail every month from birth to 5 years old.
Math and Science Knowledge
STEM – Science. Technology, Engineering and Math- What do babies and toddlers know about this? You’d be surprised how much of everyday life and play involves STEM. Babies as young as six months old are using pattern recognition for problem solving. Toddlers are learning about scientific method and engineering when they are playing with blocks! And, as always, you are the first teacher! Check out some of these fun resources to help your child develop her natural curiosity to experiment and learn!
Play and Learn
For your infant and toddler, playing is learning. In fact, the more he plays, the more he learns! Every game of Peek-a-Boo or “pretend I’m a superhero” is helping your little one develop all those millions of brain connections he will need to be successful in school and life. Playing not only stretches the imagination; it stretches vocabulary, problem solving, back and forth communication, and dealing with emotions in a safe environment. Playing with other children gives your child a chance to practice the give and take of developing friendships. Playing with your little one also gives you an insight to his thinking and helps deepen your relationship. So vacuum later – stop and play with you child now!
This could be the best and scariest job you’ll ever have. What better reward for your time, work, and worry than to have the unconditional love of that precious child of yours? But what can be scarier to know that your “job performance” is measured by that child’s success in life? As the saying goes – this is not for wimps! Always remember that you are not alone! Even if it seems that way at 3 a.m. when your baby won’t let you get back to sleep or when your toddler decides the middle of the grocery store is when he want to throw a temper tantrum. Nearly everyone around you has been a parent, and if not a parent, then definitely a child! Reach out for help; you can start with these resources.
Conscious Discipline is a comprehensive social- emotional program that uses everyday life events to teach children and adults self-control, conflict resolution, character development and social skills.
Building Resilience in Young Children – this is a great guide to download or browse through “to boost your child’s ability to bounce back from life’s challenges and thrive”
Be Strong Families – an interactive web page that shows how to nurture your family through the Five Protective Factors
- Early Head Start (231)767-7288
- Healthy Families (231) 726-4735
- Fathers Matter (231) 726.4735