Changes to Developmental Milestones: What This Means for Children and Their Families

Are you familiar with “developmental milestones”? They are the skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, or waving bye-bye. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, move (i.e., from crawling to walking).

I was very interested to read that the developmental milestones are being updated, which is the first time since 2004.  These revisions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the Academy of Pediatrics, were developed by a group of 13 developmental experts and pediatricians.  The revisions raised the percentage of children who typically meet certain milestones from 50 to 75%.  Also, the CDC added milestones for 15 months and 30 months and defined social and emotional markers such as when a child hugs a doll or another toy.   

Certainly, there have been societal changes as to when children are expected to complete various activities, such as tying their shoes and picking up cereal.  These changes are designed to give parents, doctors, and therapists clearer benchmarks as to when children typically do things. 

I believe many parents use these developmental guidelines as a marker for how their child is progressing or not.  I know that I kept a copy of them at my bedside and would periodically see how Ryan was doing.  When I saw that his expressive language skills were not on par, I referred him for a speech and language group.  He was 14 months. 

Certainly, as a person in the field, I was very conscious of the milestones, perhaps more so than many parents. 

Why are they important?

These new guidelines will support parents and physicians in considering referrals for evaluation. The earlier diagnosis will result in earlier intervention services, which is a WIN/WIN for all.

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