So you are wondering about your little one. From the moment your baby is born you will wonder and worry at times if they are developing ‘on schedule’. Should he be pulling to stand? She can’t it up without support yet, is that supposed to be accomplished already? My baby doesn’t seem to roll over yet! On and on it goes. The accomplishment of developmental milestones brings joy and a sigh of relief and then the wondering starts again about the next ‘thing’ on the developmental list.
Maybe as a new parent you don’t know what your child should be doing and that is what your concern is! Your past experience has not put you in close contact with babies or children of any age and you are feeling lost. As families become more complex, or have to move away for work from family and elder role models, and experience the isolation due to public health restrictions, it has become increasingly hard to even have contact with friends who have children to guide us as parents.
Developmental Milestones: What is a parent to do?
First of all take a deep breath and enjoy what your child IS doing! No matter where they are on their developmental milestones path, your child is a wonderful human being and they delight and respond when caring adults are loving and encouraging with them! Take another deep breath if you are feeling lost as to knowing what your child should be doing –there are plenty of great resources at hand to guide you along this parenting path. So in a nutshell BREATHE and LOVE your child. Those baby snuggles don’t last forever!
To guide you on your way to learning more about typical child development and how to encourage your little one along, take advantage of community resources for families and parents. A good place to start is your public library! Not only can you take out on loan reliable books and magazines on the latest parenting advice, but the staff can also point you to many other community resources including using the Library internet to find information about locations, programs and services offered in your area. Often, the Library itself will have drop in free programs for Parents and Tots that offer stories and activities that you can model at home.
Other common and reliable resources are listed below. For example the Family Resource Networks in Alberta offer the Ages and Stages Questionnaire for parents. This is a great initial tool for learning where your child is at in their developmental milestones, but also the next steps and stages to be looking for in your child.
Ask for help from pros for you and baby
The next step is to make sure to attend or arrange regularly scheduled appointments with your family doctor or pediatrician. Some provinces have Well Baby appointments at Public Health or Community Health Centers at regular intervals. These appointments are your opportunity to ask any questions that you may have. Ask LOTS of questions! Write questions or concerns on a list you keep on the fridge; or make notes on your phone in between appointments so that you can just hand them to the nurse or doctor. Do not be afraid to ask, ask and ask again! It is the job of these professionals to know all the ins and outs of childhood development and to pass that knowledge on to parents-no one expects you to be the expert!
You ARE however, the expert of your own child! Be honest in answering the questions the Dr. or nurse asks of you so that you can have an open honest conversation about what is best for your child. During these visits either ask to record the conversation on your phone (you have to ask for their permission to do this) or have the professional write the answers down for you! Most often they will have handouts or pamphlets with information that you can take home. Gather these and read them and keep them handy to refer back to often. Make sure to follow through with any referrals or follow up sessions that are made.
Once you are more aware of your child’s development it can really shine a light on what your little one is accomplishing every day in little ways, and tame the worry to help you enjoy the fleeting moments of those baby snuggles and gooey toddler hugs!
Other Resources on Developmental Milestones:
Canadian Pediatric Society - https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/behavior-and-development/your_childs_development
Family Resource Network/Parent Link - https://www.frfp.ca/parent-link-centres/
Parent Central - https://parentcentral.sk.211.ca/
Assessing and supporting your Child’s Development - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/child-behaviour-development/assessing-child-development
Have a question you’d like to ask a pediatric OT? Leave it in the comments below!
About the Author
Kelly Harrison-Miles BSc. O.T.
As a Mom to three boys, I know the wondering and worrying and the joys of growing kids first hand. Now all in their teen years (my fridge door is never closed) and each is navigating his own way in this COVID world (reluctantly listening to their parents as teenagers typically do), this Momma is still wondering and worrying if they are learning the skills they will need to be competent adults!! As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I know ‘typical development’. I have spent years assessing children’s developmental milestones in clinic, home and school settings. I know and have seen many times over how caring and engaged adults can guide and enhance a child’s developmental path every day in daily routines and daily activities. The key is first knowing and then doing!