Dr. Suma Arun explains

A specialist pediatrician for Aster Clinic Al Qusais 1, Dr. Suma holds a Diploma in Child Health and Diplomate of National Board in Pediatrics. She’s accumulated 18 years of professional experience in pediatrics, working with her young patients and parents. asterclinic.ae

What are the major developmental milestones a child should be meeting in their first year?

Developmental milestones fall into four major domains – physical growth, cognitive, socio-emotional and language. Each of these include key areas that should be hit within a time frame.

How can parents best monitor their baby’s development?

Parents are usually the first to identify any change in their child’s health and development. It’s important for every parent to observe and understand their baby’s movements, sounds, speech and behaviour, and to make a record of these events. Every child is different, so it’s more important to check if the child is making progress forward, than if they are meeting the exact dates.

How regularly should they ‘check-in’ with a professional?

All babies should be scheduled for a general health and immunisations check-up at one, two, four and six months. For further development assessment, babies are seen at nine, 12, 18 and 24 months, where parents will be asked about concerns. Here, your pediatrician will observe the baby’s movement, behaviour, speech and play, and determine if the child has achieved the appropriate skillset for that age and if intervention is required.

 

baby development

Is being behind in one developmental area always a cause for concern?

There is a specific age range where children are expected to attain the developmental milestones, but it is a wide window. For example, some babies start walking as early as nine months, and some don’t take their first step until they are 15 months. Still, both babies may be within the normal range and a minor delay for milestone is not always a reason to worry. But, it’s important that the baby with delayed walking is still meeting milestones in the other development domains. If there’s more than one delay, then further investigation is needed.

How do professionals address missed milestones? 

When I see a child with missed milestones, I’ll first observe their movements, speech and behaviour for my initial assessment. If significant delays are recognised, a full clinic evaluation is made, with hearing testing, metabolic screening and brain imaging potentially required. Specific interventions have to be made as soon as possible with the help of the child’s full support team, which can include physical and speech therapists, child psychologists, teachers and even social workers.

How can parents best support their child through developments?

A parent is their child’s first teacher and should remain their best teacher throughout life. Age-appropriate challenges and quality time spent with the child is crucial for their overall development. Please spend time holding and cuddling your baby, when they are alert and when they are relaxed. When your baby makes sounds, respond to them. Talk, sing, act out small scenes, and read to them. The child will learn new things, but also develop a strong bond with their parents.

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