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Timeline is Just a Guideline When It Comes to Child Development

Doctor Q&A

Doctor, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Primary Care Physician
Shawnee Mission Internal Medicine & Pediatrics

When is a baby different from all other babies? When it’s yours!


Personality, looks and health challenges combine with other nuances to make your baby uniquely special. But the one thing parents have in common is that these little ones grow up fast and, for the most part, develop according to the same timeline.


Although understanding your baby’s progress can be a helpful tool in communicating with your doctor, it is NOT necessary to closely track it. In fact, obsessing about your child’s developmental milestones often leads to unhealthy comparisons with other children and creates more worry.


The best way to keep your head clear and your baby happy is to maintain regularly scheduled visits with your healthcare providers and leave the assessments to them. 


Still, if you’re wondering when to break out that five-star infant carrier Uncle George sent, or trying to plan for an upcoming family vacation, it can be helpful to have an idea of what’s to come.


Have fun looking forward to these milestones, but with the healthy realization that these things happen within a margin of time, give or take a month, or two, or three... ish:


2 Week-ish:  Eat, sleep, diaper, repeat!


Enjoy the snuggles. The highlight of this age is when the stub of the umbilical cord falls off. 


 2 Month-ish:  “Can you hear me now?!”


Your spouse may not think you’re funny, but you know you are. Get ready - sometime around this age, your child will start smiling at the sounds coming out of your mouth and will soon be laughing at you.


4 Month-ish:  Roll with it, baby…


Literally, and figuratively! Rolling over is just one of the many changes in your active baby. Hold on – the ride gets wilder!


6 Month-ish:  “I’m ready for my close-up!”


Call the photographer.  Sometime around this age your baby will be sitting up and making the funny faces required of the half-year photo shoot.


9 Month-ish:  You’re going mobile!


Your baby is a tiny grownup in so many ways. If you haven’t already done it, it’s time to baby-proof your home.


12 Month-ish:  Now you’re speaking my language…


Your child may correctly say one to three meaningful words besides “mama” and “dada.” Although vocabulary is small, enjoy the conversation. And take time for self-reflection; your baby will start modeling behavior after you!


15 Month-ish:  Do you need a little helper?


Your child will imitate housework and help with simple household tasks. Get your cleaning supplies ready! Your child will begin to scribble at this age.


18 Month-ish:  And there it went! Your baby is now a toddler.


Walking up some stairs, self-feeding, turning pages and sitting in a small chair? If these things aren’t a part of your child’s daily routine, they likely will be soon.


2 Years and Beyond:


Enjoy! By now your child is displaying his/her unique personality and you are hopefully settled into a family routine. Your best source of information remains your healthcare providers. Don’t hesitate to call with your questions.


Suggested resources as you move forward:


  • The Internet is full of material on the topic of child development, a lot of which can cause more angst than reassurance. But if you do look for cyber-information, choose credible sites like healthychildren.org, sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • “Little People: Common Sense Guideline for Child Rearing” by Dr. Ed Christophersen
  • “Love and Logic, Magic for Early Childhood; Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years” by Jim and Charles Fay.
  • Parents as Teachers – a program administered through your local school district. It provides complimentary developmental exams, as well as helpful tips.