We know that all children develop at different rates and that we shouldn’t compare our children to those of others to see if they are ahead enough. However, there are certain development stages that all children must hit at some point. If they don’t, then there is reason to be concerned as they are experiencing developmental delay. There are certain stages you can expect as your baby gradually progresses into adulthood, but let’s take a look at the particular stages you should see from birth to 3 years old.
The First Six Months
During the first six months, babies are completely dependent on you for all of their needs. They have difficulty in focusing on things, they will smile at anything and they are unable to express their needs or emotions in any other way except crying. As helpless as they may seem, however, there are still a few things you should look for that could be considered red flags, such as difficulties in eating and not being startled by loud noises. But what matters most during these precious first months is that you give your child all the love in the world.
Get close and make eye contact with your baby when you talk, sing, and read to her. Play simple games when she’s alert and in the mood, such as peekaboo or mimicking her sounds.
Six Months to One Year and a Half
Once they have gone through the first six months, babies will start to discover things about themselves. They will learn to crawl or shuffle and eventually walk. They will learn their first words and they will be able to manipulate objects and feed themselves, for instance, albeit in a very messy way. Babies are now learning about themselves, who they are, how their bodies work and how they feel. As with every stage in a child’s development, the most important thing continues to be showing them that you love them.
I feel important and loved when you listen to, talk to, and play with me; when you love and cuddle me; when you encourage me to explore and join in my discoveries; when you show that you are proud of me.
One and a Half to Three Years
During this time, your child will go through a stage of accelerated development. Some say that these are the most important years in a child’s life. Children at this stage learn who they are and what they can do. They will develop their personality, learn to speak and start to grasp the difference between right and wrong. By the time children are three years old, they should be able to show (or copy) affection, don’t fret when physical contact with their parents is removed, have attachment to certain friends, undress themselves, follow instructions, know their age and name, have short conversations, play with blocks and books, have a rudimentary understanding of numbers, run, climb, walk up and down stairs, and pedal a tricycle.
You must, at all times, remember that every child develops differently. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that every child be regularly reviewed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern.
Furthermore, parents are encouraged to always act promptly if they have any concerns. Oftentimes, parents feel as if they are being a burden by constantly asking questions of their healthcare professionals, but they must remember that this is what they are there for. If a child does have developmental delay, help should be sought out for them.