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
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
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
For more information about developmental screening,
For more information on the role that a parent can play in the healthy development
of a child, please see Resources.
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