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Developmental Milestones

Every child is unique. No two children develop, grow, or learn at exactly the same pace.

Developmental Milestones Quiz image

Even so, all children develop in predictable ways. Babies and toddlers are growing, learning, and changing all the time. It’s fun to watch. Try to keep track of the new things your child does at every age.

As children develop, there are 5 kinds of milestones to look for:

  • movement.

  • visual and hearing.

  • language.

  • cognitive (thinking).

  • social and emotional.

At 1 month, your child probably has strong reflexes (a movement milestone). At 3 months, he probably smiles at the sound of your voice (a hearing milestone). At 7 months, she probably shows an interest in mirror images (a social and emotional milestone). At age 1, he probably uses exclamations like "Uh oh!" (a language milestone). At age 2, she probably imitates others, especially adults and older children (a cognitive milestone).

Check out a full list of milestones -- from 1 month to age 5 -- as well as a handy checklist of developmental milestones. 

You can also take a fun, interactive quiz from the CDC to learn more about milestones.

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There's some great info from Mayo Clinic on what to do when your infant cries. More info coming soon.

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Importance of Screening

Regular developmental screenings help young children learn, grow, and strengthen skills that build upon one another. reading baby

They also help you learn what to expect at every age.

Getting a developmental screening is an important first step to see if your child is reaching developmental milestones. If concerns do surface, it means that more information and additional help may be needed. 

In a developmental screening, children get a quick and simple check of developmental milestones:

  • physical milestones like sitting up.
  • language milestones like learning to say "mama" or "dada."
  • social and emotional milestones like playing peek-a-boo and making friends.

It’s best to start screening early – from birth through age five.

You can get specialized help if your children need extra support. As children reach various milestones, you can also celebrate together.

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Developmental Screening cropped 2015



There are different kinds of developmental screenings, depending on the age of your child and reasons for screening.

Some types of screenings are done by healthcare professionals, some by childcare providers, some by home visitors, and some by preschools.

In a screening, you may be asked to share observations about how your child moves, plays, and communicates. Your child's vision, hearing, height, and weight may be measured. Other milestones may also be noted.

Be as relaxed as you can -- and let your child respond naturally, in order to get the most accurate information from the screening.

Take a look at "Screen Early," published by NDKIDS, for info on setting up different types of screenings.

Types of Screening

Coming soon.

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Social/Emotional Health

skating familyChildren quickly develop social and emotional traits during their early years. Your support helps your child establish a healthy self-concept, positive behaviors, and overall healthy social-emotional development.

Healthy social-emotional development involves the ability to:

  • play.

  • learn.

  • communicate.

  • face challenges.

  • form satisfying, trusting relationships.

  • experience and handle a full range of emotions.

Young children develop these skills and characteristics through relationships. Strong, loving relationships provide young children a sense of comfort, safety, and confidence. These relationships teach young children how to form friendships, communicate emotions, and deal with challenges. They also help children develop trust, empathy, compassion, and a sense of right and wrong. 

Here are a few ways to support your child’s social-emotional development:

  1. Create an environment that is nurturing. Be affectionate!

  2. Develop routines that are regular -- but also respond to your child's needs when they come up.

  3. Provide safety and security -- and encourage exploration at the same time.

  4. Encourage and support your child’s skills, even when the skills are just developing.

  5. Support your child to express his feelings, knowing that children will express differently based on their age.

  6. Be a role model of respect. Show appreciation of differences.

  7. Take care of yourself. You have social and emotional needs, too. When you are supported, you can better support your child.

Visit Zero to Three for more tips on promoting social-emotional development.

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Attachment & Bonding

In order to be healthy and happy, babies and young children need to be attached (or bonded) to caring adults. Communication cropped 2015

Here's how to help your child experience attachment:

  1. Be consistent. Do your best to give your child regular attention, even when you feel distracted by your own responsibilities or worries. Infants and toddlers should spend their first 3 years in consistent care so secure attachments can develop. 

  2. Be responsive. Children need more than physical care.

  3. Be playful and affectionate. Demonstrate love so that your child learns to show love, too. 

  4. Get support. Lack of attachment can be high in families where there is stress -- such as relationship trouble, moving to a new home, financial difficulties, or other stressors. If you're facing these stressors, reach out for support from a trusted family member, service provider, or other community resource. Check out the Map of Services at NDKIDS.

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