Developmental milestones are the abilities that children generally acquire at similar ages, in four basic categories: physical, social/emotional, communication, and cognitive skills. Parents and childcare providers are key in observing and monitoring the important stages crossed by their kids. In its National Poll on Children's Health, the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital asked parents of 0-5 years old kids how and where they looked for information and help about early developmental steps.

The results revealed that 40% of parents feel very confident and 50% are confident about knowing when their kids should achieve most of the specific milestones, mothers being more likely than fathers to be very confident (46% vs 33%). 80% of parents say they learn about the ages at which their kids are supposed to meet milestones from healthcare providers, 53% from family members, 45% from the internet, 44% from experience with their other kids, 37% from friends, and 28% from childcare providers.

In order to check if their children are developmentally at a good level or behind, 38% of parents have compared them to a sibling, 34% to a friend's child, and 28% to other children in their family. And among parents suspecting their child was behind, 63% asked advice from healthcare providers, 24% from childcare providers, and 18% reported they did not seek advice from either of those providers.

It's important to keep in mind that a child's development is a process that unfolds over time and that there is a range of normal for when certain competencies - like walking, talking, or laughing - will become effective. Even if most milestones happen in predictable sequences and during certain windows of time, parents and caregivers must remember that this is only a framework, and that each child remains unique, even if every child has incredible potential.

Picture: Adressing developmental delay (C.S. Mott Children's Hospital)