These are the Updated Guidelines on Babies’ Developmental Milestones That Parents Need to Know

These milestones haven’t been updated in decades, and some are catching parents' attention.

By: Amanda Mushro


Photo by: The Good Brigade

The Good Brigade

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have released updated guidelines on when babies and toddlers should reach different milestones. For the past twenty years, parents have been given the same information of when babies should be crawling, walking, talking, as well as guidelines for their sleeping habits. However, the updated guidelines have changed a lot of these well-known timelines, and while some of the new information can be confusing for parents, these changes can be a really good thing for babies and young kids.

With the updated changes, doctors are hopeful that the new guidelines will help parents and their pediatricians identify developmental delays, autism, or other social-communication disabilities earlier and encourage screenings that can lead to getting kids the help they need earlier and more often.

"The earlier a child is identified with a developmental delay the better, as treatment as well as learning interventions can begin," says Dr. Lipkin, a member of the AAP. "At the same time, we don’t want to cause unnecessary confusion for families or professionals. Revising the guidelines with expertise and data from clinicians in the field accomplishes these goals. Review of a child’s development with these milestones also opens up a continuous dialogue between a parent and the health care provider about their child’s present and future development."

Here are some of the changes parents can expect:

  • Adding checklists for children at 15 and 30 months so there is a checklist for every well-child visit from 2 months to 5 years
  • Identifying new additional social and emotional milestones
  • Cutting out vague language like "may" or "begins" and removing duplicate milestones
  • Open-ended questions to use in discussion so parents can share their concerns with their pediatricians
  • New tips and developmental activities

The previous developmental milestone that the AAP offered parents was a checklist that used 50th percentile milestones. This means only half of children can be expected to achieve that milestone by that age. For many parents and doctors, these checklists were often confusing and at times vague when trying to get a baby or toddler the help and support they need.

According to the statement by AAP, "Clinicians reported that following the guideline often was not helpful to families who had concerns about their child’s development. In some cases, clinicians and families chose a wait-and-see approach, leading to a delay in diagnosis."

Now the updated checklist is written in more family-friendly language and will identify behaviors that 75% or more children can be expected to exhibit at a certain age.

For so many parents, these milestone checklists can cause a lot of anxiety and worry. However, hopefully these new guidelines will help open up the communication between parents and their child's pediatrician. This way if there are any concerns about their child’s development in any area, they can act quickly to find early interventions to help their child.

If you do have concerns, visit Learn the Signs. Act Early. and talk to your child’s doctor.

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