articles / Family life

Milestones: No child left behind

*Note: I hope this post is taken in the spirit I’ve intended it in. This is meant to be nothing more than an informational post delivered in kindness from one parent to another.*

In the academic world, the majority of parents are concerned about whether their children are where they need to be grade-wise and if they are succeeding in school. I won’t go so far to say that parents keep a checklist of things their student should know, but they at least know if their kid is getting A’s or F’s. Everyone has heard of the (in)famous phrase, “No child left behind.”

But how many of us pay that much attention to a baby/toddler’s early development? When I first had Josiah I stayed up to date on milestones and ages they should be accomplished. I knew when it was within the normal range to get teeth, sit up, crawl, walk, talk, etc. He was always slightly ahead of the normal range so I never had to be concerned, but I knew when to be concerned. With Samuel I’ve done the same thing. I’m keeping track of the milestones he should be hitting and the red flags I should be watching for. Like his big brother, he’s been hitting them slightly earlier than normal.

Samuel is 5 1/2 months old and climbing...I'm in trouble.

Samuel is 5 1/2 months old and climbing…I’m in trouble.

There are many parents that are like me. It’s not that we’re worried about pushing them to the next milestone or trying to keep them on a schedule, we just understand that there is a norm for these things and that a delay could be a sign of something more serious. Some parents are different though. Some parents have no clue what their baby/toddler should be doing at a certain age. It’s concerning because physical and language delays may not seem like an issue now, but it can affect them as they get older if not addressed.

Did you know  by 12 months a baby should be able to:

  • Say “Mama” or “Dada”
  • Wave, shake head, or point
  • Practice using consonants (like p or b)
  • Understand the words “no” and “bye-bye”
  • Point out interesting things
  • Say a few single words
  • crawl
  • stand without support

By 18 months (roundabout) a toddler should be able to:

  • Point to at least one body part when asked
  • Communicate when they need help or point to things they want
  • Say at least six words
  • walk

Between 18 and 24 months they should be learning about one new word a week. They won’t all be 100% clear, but you should be able to understand them and it sound like a word, not babble.

By 24 months a toddler should be able to:

  • Understand the use of everyday objects
  • Speak in two word sentences
  • Imitate words and actions
  • Follow simple instructions
  • Throw a ball
  • Kick a ball when shown how

This is an incomplete list, but if the milestones listed are not accomplished by the designated age, the professionals consider these red flags and say that the child should be checked out by a doctor. It may not mean anything except for that your child is developing a little slower, but it could mean a more serious issue. Language delays could be due to hearing issues or possibly even more serious causes such as autism. Physical delays could be simply about slower development or a bigger issue. I know someone who’s baby wasn’t walking within the right time frame and it turned out that one of her legs was longer than the other. Babies born prematurely will develop differently too. They will often develop at a slower pace than their peers.

I do not want to make any parent feel bad or feel like they’re not doing enough. Some parents really haven’t even thought about it and didn’t realize the stages of development. My concern is for the kids. If there is an issue, it needs to be addressed. If there is not an issue than great. The thing is, as painful as it may be, I’d rather know there was an issue and start adjusting the way we do things now than to wait until they are ready to start school. Like I said, language and physical delays can hinder a child when they go to school. If they are homeschooled the parent can adjust their lessons to fit the child, but if they are in public school they will likely get lost in the system.

All a parent can do is be aware. We can encourage development and take note when something seems off. Our hope is that our children will do everything as a child should, but each child has their own normal. For some it is doing everything ahead of schedule and for some it is do everything a few months behind.

*Information was obtained from babycenter.com.*

 

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