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Is your baby hitting developmental milestones?

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Infant holding mothers finger

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. Should all kids develop at the same rate?
2. What percentage of kids are at risk for delays?
3. Who can help?

Within babies' first year of life, most are babbling, smiling, standing up and pointing. So how do they get there?

As parents, we often hear the term "developmental milestones" and know it’s important our children hit these markers at key moments of growth. But what exactly do child development specialists mean by that phrase?


“First, it’s important to remember that every child is an individual,” says Randee Gabriel, programs manager at 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast. “There are no two children that will hit every milestone at the exact same time. Still, there are crucial cues to look for at each age.”

Gabriel explains children up to age 5 should reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act and move (see chart below).

“This is because a young child’s brain develops incredibly quickly,” says Gabriel, adding a newborn’s brain is about a fourth the size of an adult brain. By age 3, the brain grows to 80 percent of adult size on its way to 90 percent by age 5.

Developmental milestones at a glance


Gross motor

Fine motor

Cognitive, linguistic and communication


6 months

Sits up with no support; rolls over

Move toys between hands; reaches

Turns to voice or rattling sound; squeals

Responds to name; smiles when sees a parent

1 year

Stands alone; pulls self to stand; takes steps with or without support

Puts block in cup; picks up objects with finger and thumb; points

Imitates vocalizations/ sounds; babbles; says single words

Waves hi or bye; imitates activities; plays pat-a-cake; follows simple commands


One in four U.S. children up to age 5 are at moderate or high risk of developmental, behavioral, or social delay, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, many children experience delays in language or other areas that can affect school readiness.

“Every age group brings within itself new changes and skills required,” Gabriel says. “While a child may have no concerns at 6 months, this does not guarantee there will be no concerns at 25 months or 48 months or beyond. Rescreening at each interval is imperative to identify these shifts and ensure healthy development over the long term.”


If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, it's best to get help as soon as possible so any issues can be addressed early. Call 2-1-1 or chat online and ask for the Help Me Grow program. Help Me Grow services are free, including screenings, information and resource connection.

You can also call HomeSafe for a free screening at 561-383-9800.


• Randee Gabriel, programs manager, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

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