We’ve all done it: when you have a baby, it’s totally normal to frantically search and keep tabs on the general milestones, to help reassure yourself and give you an idea of what’s “within normal range,” as well as to see what’s in the near future. The key words, though, are within normal range. There is a broad spectrum of typical development, and what’s “normal” can be different for each baby. After all, each baby is unique, with individual characteristics and different environments and social interactions. Yes, there are some instances where not meeting milestones can signal something bigger, but in general, a slight delay is nothing to worry about.

The first year a baby’s life is a year of vast growth and development, like no other time during the lifespan. When we talk about “milestones,” these are skills that can be easily identified, like sitting without assistance, crawling, clapping, and so forth. They are generally grouped into three categories: motor development, language development, and social/emotional development. Babies go through milestones at different times, and also spend different amounts of time in each stage. For instance, one baby might crawl for 2-3 months, whereas another baby might only crawl for a few weeks before walking – and other babies might not crawl at all, and progress right to walking!

Some healthy parenting behaviors that can aid your baby’s development include:

  • having a routine and behaving in a predictable way
  • showing sensitivity, warmth, and love
  • interacting with babies (talking, playing) and reading to them
  • discipline without being harsh

Adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise also are big parts of a baby’s development.

Babies develop at their own pace, but if you have any concerns about your baby and any developmental milestones, talk with your pediatric care provider. She can observe your baby and possibly refer out to an audiologist, opthamologist, or other specialist. She might also recommend evaluation for Early Intervention services (which can include OT, PT, and behaviorists), to help your baby refine existing skills and encourage them to meet new milestones. This doesn’t mean there’s anything “wrong” with your baby . Sometimes, some babies just need a little extra help to get where they need to be. If your baby has met certain milestones and you observe a deterioration of learned skills, tell your provider, as this may be cause for concern.

Interested in taking a deeper dive into your baby meeting milestones? Check out our New Moms Group for younger babies and the Your Older Baby class for infants 6-12 months.