Child Development Milestones

Below is a list of the usual milestones and associated age ranges doctors use to assess development.

2 TO 4 MONTHS OLD
2 TO 4 MONTHS OLD
  • Baby will turn head in response to sound
  • Baby coos and smiles
  • Baby uses eyes to follow objects and recognizes faces
  • Baby can hold up and control head
  • Baby can reach and grasp objects
  • Baby pushes up on elbows if lying on stomach
6 TO 9 MONTHS OLD
6 TO 9 MONTHS OLD
  • Baby puts objects to mouth
  • Baby begins to crawl
  • Baby can roll from back to front and front to back
  • Baby passes objects from one hand to the other hand
  • Baby can sit upright without assistance
  • Baby can “bounce” up and down while being held with feet on floor
  • Baby can pick up small objects with fingers
  • Baby reacts to words and sounds
1 YEAR OLD
1 YEAR OLD
  • Understands simple instructions
  • Explores surroundings
  • May walk, or start trying to walk
  • Starts to say simple words
18 MONTHS OLD
18 MONTHS OLD
  • Holds a pencil or crayon and scribbles alone
  • More advanced at standing and walking
  • Holds and eats with a spoon
  • Holds and drinks from a cup
  • Indicates which objects he/she wants
2-3 YEARS OLD
2-3 YEARS OLD
  • Knows and can say his/her name and age
  • Runs and kicks a ball
  • Draws lines and shapes
  • Identifies body parts
  • Identifies family members
  • Completes sentences and understands rhymes
  • Walks up and down stairs without help
  • Dresses and undresses without help
4-5 YEARS OLD
4-5 YEARS OLD
  • Uses the toilet without assistance
  • Works out simple problems with peers
  • Uses safety scissors
  • Recites his/her favorite stories
  • Climbs up onto things without assistance

Diagnosis of a Birth Injury

No one can diagnose their own child with a birth injury or a developmental delay. If you suspect that your child is consistently missing milestones or, if your child is showing other birth injury symptoms, it is critical to discuss your concerns with his/her pediatrician so that the proper medical investigation can be started.

This investigation could include imaging studies of your child’s brain such as CT, MRI or Ultrasound. It could also include blood testing for chemical, metabolic, or genetic abnormalities. Your child may have an EEG to study the electrical pathways of his or her brain. You may be referred to a specialist in pediatric neurology, physiatry, or orthopedics.

The process of diagnosis can be long and frustrating. Getting answers for the cause of your child’s condition often requires patience, persistence and time. Keep your appointments, take notes and ASK QUESTIONS! You can’t provide the proper care and support your child needs until you fully understand his/her condition and the treatment options available.

Common Birth Injury Symptoms

Calling birth injury symptoms “common” is probably a misnomer. Injuries suffered during the birth process can be physical and readily apparent. These include fractures, cuts, bruises, and nerve damage. If, however, the injuries are related to the brain and/or other internal organs, the signs of injury may not be apparent for some time.

As a parent, you should seek the advice of your child’s doctor if you observe any of the following:

  • Baby arches back while crying
  • Lack of movement in arm(s) or leg(s)
  • Curled up hand(s)
  • Breathlessness
  • Difficulties with sucking, eating, and swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive fussiness for no apparent reason
  • Grunting and/or high-pitched crying
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Light sensitivity
  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Blue lips, fingers, or toes
  • Poor weight gain
  • Seizures

Sometimes, the diagnosis of a brain injury suffered during the birth process is not made until an infant falls behind on his or her “developmental milestones”. These “milestones” are behaviors which most children exhibit by certain ages. It is important to note that every child is different, and not all will reach each of the milestones by the average time. Your child’s doctor will be able to discuss these milestones and your child’s abilities in more detail.

Resources To Assist With Birth Injury Diagnosis

UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY (UCP)

www.ucp.org

UCP is an organization dedicated to advocacy for children with cerebral palsy and education of their caregivers. UCP educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. UCP also serves as a clearinghouse for research, local assistance and other resources.

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC)

www.cdc.gov

The CDC acts as the United States’ health protection agency. CDC conducts critical scientific research and analysis and provides health information with the goal of protecting the U.S. against expensive and dangerous health threats. The CDC can provide detailed information about the known types of cerebral palsy, their symptoms, research and scientific articles.

KENNEDY KRIEGER INSTITUTE

www.kennedykrieger.org

Located in Baltimore, Kennedy Krieger Institute is an internationally recognized institution dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults with pediatric developmental disabilities and disorders of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system, through patient care, special education, research, and professional training.

Kennedy Krieger’s patient care programs offer an interdisciplinary treatment approach tailored to the individual needs of each child, throughout all stages of care. Highly trained professionals from various disciplines and departments collaborate to design treatment plans specific to each patient’s needs.

MARCH OF DIMES

www.marchofdimes.org

The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing birth defects and infant mortality. The March of Dimes has led the way to discover the genetic causes of birth defects, to promote newborn screening, and to educate medical professionals and the public about best practices for healthy pregnancy. The work done by the March of Dimes helped initiate the system of regional neonatal intensive care for premature and sick babies.

UNITED BRACHIAL PLEXUS NETWORK

www.ubpn.org

The United Brachial Plexus Network (UBPN) is a non-profit organization devoted to providing information, support and leadership for families and those concerned with brachial plexus injuries worldwide. Available resources include their extensive website; online registry, outreach and awareness programs, and an in-depth publication.

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS AND STROKE (NINDS)

www.ninds.nih.gov

NINDS is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). It conducts and funds research on brain and nervous system disorders. The mission of NINDS is “to reduce the burden of neurological disease—a burden borne by every age group, every segment of society, and people all over the world”. NINDS basic science research focuses on studies of the fundamental biology of the brain and nervous system, genetics, neurodegeneration, learning and memory, motor control, brain repair, and synapses. NINDS also funds clinical research related to diseases and disorders of the brain and nervous system, including brachial plexus injuries, Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, and traumatic brain injury.