Raising children is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. However, it can also be one of the most overwhelming and challenging experiences. Whether you’re a first-time parent or have a house full of children, questions about whether a child is growing and developing normally are natural.
In this blog, the providers at Generations Family Practice in Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina, discuss the various aspects of childhood development.
Childhood development is marked by many firsts, such as when your child says their first words, crawls for their first time, and takes their first steps. All of these special moments are known as developmental milestones.
Typically, these benchmarks are evaluated in terms of your child’s age in comparison to children of similar age. Developmental milestones can be divided into four major categories: physical, social, communicative, and cognitive.
Probably one of the most popular areas of comparison regards a child’s height and weight. From the time a child is born, their weight and length are measured and monitored on a regular basis.
However, measuring physical development is about much more than height and weight. It also includes how well your child moves and uses their body. For example, this category can include hand-eye coordination, particularly when it comes to skills like eating with utensils or catching a ball.
Social and emotional skills are another benchmark when it comes to how well your child is growing and developing. For example, how well your child expresses emotion and how well they connect with family and those around them can come under this category.
Similarly, communication skills, such as learning words and connecting them with pictures in a book, or conveying wants and needs, are also key developmental milestones. Another important communication milestone is understanding messages when others speak to them.
Perhaps a crucial skill that connects all the developmental milestone categories is your child’s cognitive abilities. Are they able to count, learn the alphabet, and differentiate colors? And are they demonstrating problem-solving and thinking skills, such as being able to reach for a favorite toy or put a square block in a square hole?
While developmental milestones are important to monitor and track, keep in mind that each child is an individual, so they’ll grow and develop at their own pace. This important principle can be particularly difficult to embrace for parents who have more than one child.
Resist the temptation to measure your child’s abilities against a sibling’s at the same age. Developmental milestones are intended to be general markers, not necessarily standards that are set in stone. However, if you think your child is falling behind, we can examine your child, and, if needed, design a treatment plan to help them get back on course.
Knowing if your child is growing and developing can be complex and confusing at times. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. At Generations Family Practice, we have providers who are experts in pediatric care.
One of the best ways to monitor your child’s developmental milestones is through routine well-child visits. The frequency of well-child visits differs depending on your child’s age, but, typically, the younger the child, the more frequent the visits should be.
Well-child visits are periodically scheduled appointments in which we examine the overall health of your child. For example, we examine their vital signs, perform a comprehensive physical evaluation, review their medical history, and discuss your child’s lifestyle habits, such as what they eat and how active they are.
We also administer any immunizations that may be needed, perform any diagnostic tests that may be required, and provide any treatments that may be needed. This is also a great time to ask any questions or share any concerns you may have.
To discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s growth and development or to schedule a well-child visit, book an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice today.