What is child development?
Child development refers to how a child becomes able to do more complex things as they get older. Development is different than growth. Growth only refers to the child getting bigger in size. If you are concerned about your child’s development, please see Developmental Delay on YourChild.
When we talk about normal development, we are talking about developing skills like:
- Gross motor: using large groups of muscles to sit, stand, walk, run, etc., keeping balance, and changing positions.
- Fine motor: using hands to be able to eat, draw, dress, play, write, and do many other things.
- Language: speaking, using body language and gestures, communicating, and understanding what others say.
- Cognitive: Thinking skills: including learning, understanding, problem-solving, reasoning, and remembering.
- Social: Interacting with others, having relationships with family, friends, and teachers, cooperating, and responding to the feelings of others.
Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range. Your pediatrician uses milestones to help check how your child is developing. Although each milestone has an age level, the actual age when a normally developing child reaches that milestone can very quite a bit. Every child is unique!
Where can I find some good links with developmental milestones for my child’s age group?
Overall development—gross and fine motor, language, cognitive, and social skills
- The first two years:
- 1 month
- 3 months
- 7 months
- Milestones for the first year (broken down into 3, 6 and 12 months)
- 12 months
- Second year (broken down into 18 and 24 months)
- 2 years
- Hitos del Desarrollo y Crecimiento (Developmental milestones for babies from birth to age two--in Spanish)
- Lista de indicadores del desarrollo (Printable checklists for 3, 7, 12 and 24 months--in Spanish)
- Listen: YourChild podcast interview with UMHS pediatrician Dr. Layla Mohammed about early child development from birth to age two. Includes discussion about how to get help for your child if they have developmental delay.
- The preschool years:
- School-age child development--ages 6 to 12:
- Development in children ages 6 through 12, includes advice for how to help children reach their potentials.
- Adolescent Development: Physical, cognitive and psycho-social and what parents can do to help.
Zero to Three offers these milestones for how children develop and the role that parents play at different stages. The emphasis here is more on social and emotional development:
- YourChild: Speech and Language Delays and Disorders includes a chart of language milestones.
- Speech and language milestones with links to interactive checklists and a good explanation of what it all means. Also in Spanish: Habla y idioma: Hitos del desarrollo.
- How does your child hear and talk? Lists hearing, understanding and talking milestones for birth to five years of age, and includes information on where to get help. Also in Spanish: ¿Qué tal habla y oye su niño?
Reprinted with the permission of the University of Michigan. © 2008 University of Michigan Health System.
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