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Big sister and baby brother
Monitoring Development

Healthy development, in all forms, particularly social/emotional, communication, and behavior, should be monitored by parents and physicians through screenings at each well visit

Little by little, step by step, a child grows, changes, and develops throughout the first years of life. As each month passes, parents witness their child’s constant change, and thrill to their child’s first smiles, first words, and first steps.

There is a wide range of what clinicians consider to be healthy or “typical” growth and development: one child walks at nine months; another walks at twelve months. Milestones, or fixed markers of individual progress, help establish the outer limit for the range of healthy development. But within the range of typical development, there is tremendous variation and great opportunity for individual difference.

As a child grows and develops, parents may watch with both wonder and worry. Friends and family, books and magazines offer advice to guide parents through the complex developmental process. But the most important way to monitor the healthy growth and development of a child is through an active partnership of parents and healthcare providers. To this partnership, a parent brings powerful observation and experience, fortified by a sense of love and responsibility. A physician ensures that the full range of a child’s development—physical, cognitive, and social-emotional—is monitored at each well visit. Through observation, measurement, screening, and listening and sharing with parents, a physician evaluates a child’s healthy development.

The word “develop” means “to expand or realize the potentialities of; bring to a fuller, greater, or better state.” For a young child, every moment with a loving and engaged caregiver provides an opportunity for healthy development. For a parent, every day brings new “first footsteps,” moments to engage and observe a child’s ever-expanding potential.

To view First Signs' developmental checklist, Is Your Baby Meeting These Important Milestones? Key Social, Emotional and Communication Milestones for Your Baby’s Healthy Development, please click here.

For more information about developmental screening, click here.

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