As a new parent, there’s a question that sends even the most chill parent running to their pediatrician:
“Why isn’t your baby doing this yet?”
There’s a lot of focus on baby milestones, but also a lot of confusion surrounding the mile-long checklists given at every baby well-visit. How can I help my child meet their milestones? Why are other kids hitting their milestones faster than my child? Is tummy time necessary?
We turned to an expert, Dr. Matthew Hornik of Pediatric Care Corner in West Bloomfield, to answer these questions.
What are the most critical developmental milestones parents should pay attention to in babies?
- 2 Months: Smiles at the sound of your voice, follows you with their eyes around the room.
- 4 Months: Babbles, laughs and tries to imitate sounds.
- 6 Months: Rolls from back to stomach and stomach to back.
- 9 Months: Sits without support, crawls, babbles, starts to say “mama” and “dada” nonspecifically.
- 12 Months: Walks with or without support, says at least one word.
- 18 Months: Walks independently, drinks from a cup, says a few words, points to body parts.
- 2 Years: Runs and jumps, speaks in two-word sentences, follows simple instructions, engages in make-believe play.
What are some simple ways to play with your baby to help meet these milestones?
As far as helping with gross motor skills, allow them to crawl, touch and play with things. Help them roll over on blankets. For fine motor skills, give them table foods to pick up and feed themselves. As they get older, teach them to jump with both feet. The most important thing parents can do to help with language development is to read to their kids.
Can you suggest any websites or apps that let parents track baby milestones?
Why is it important that parents not compare their child’s milestones to others of the same age?
Development in children happens all at different times and on different levels with a wide spectrum of normal. Children the same age both can have development that is normal but just on different levels.
Tummy time is a pain point for many parents, and generally speaking, most babies don’t love it either. Why is it so important?
Tummy time started when we changed to “Back to Sleep” to reduce SIDS. Tummy time not only gets children off of their backs and can help with the flattening of the head, but it also gets them playing more, reaching out for things and working on their neck and core muscles.
What advice has changed from previous generations as it relates to meeting milestones?
Walkers are not recommended anymore. The American Association of Pediatrics believes it can cause more hip issues, and we actually see it is inhibiting walking.
If a parent feels their baby isn’t hitting their milestones, should they discuss it with their pediatrician right away or wait until their well-baby visit?
I would suggest parents call their pediatrician and the pediatrician can decide if it can wait until their next well visit or if it is something that needs to be addressed earlier. We know that if there is a huge concern. Usually the earlier we can intervene and get the child into the appropriate therapy, the better.