The Significance of Milestones in Early Childhood Development
An overview of developmental milestones, how to track them, and what to do if you suspect a delay.
The first three years of a child’s life are some of the most formative, and tracking developmental milestones during this time can help to identify potential developmental delays early in a child’s life. Why is early detection important? Because the earlier needed services and supports begin, the higher the likelihood that children receiving services will develop to their highest potential, while also being less likely to need additional support in the future.
What are developmental milestones? Developmental milestones are a set of age-specific tasks or functional skills that children are expected to do within a certain age range. These milestones are used to track how a child is developing in the areas of:
Gross motor skills (sitting, standing, walking, balancing, etc.)
Fine motor skills (using hands to play, eat, draw, etc.)
Language skills (using body language, gestures, speaking, communicating, etc.)
Cognitive skills (learning, understanding, problem solving, remembering, etc.)
Social skills (interacting and cooperating with family, friends, teachers, etc.)
Children generally reach these milestones through playing, learning, speaking, acting, and moving. And although each milestone correlates to an age level, the specific age that developing children reach these milestones can look quite different. "It's important to understand there are age expected milestones based on an average rate of development," said Danielle Castle, Developmental and Behavioral Health Therapy Manager at Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS). "We need to meet children at their current stage of development," Danielle said. "
How do I track developmental milestones? In many instances, families can track their child’s developmental milestones with help from their pediatrician, but parents can also take more of an active role in monitoring their child’s progress by using a milestone tracker like this one.
Click the Image to view the RMHS Developmental Milestone Chart
What should I do if I suspect a delay?
If you suspect that your child may have a developmental delay, we urge you not to take the “wait and see” approach. Waiting to seek an evaluation or support could cause your child to fall further behind. Fortunately, there are resources available in Colorado to support you.
Early Intervention Colorado provides services and supports to children experiencing delays from birth until the child’s third birthday. The services are available at no cost to families.
For families living in Denver County, the developmental intervention programs at RMHS provide family-centered therapy services that support development within your child’s natural environment and are tailored to fit within their normal routines. Telehealth visits are also available for those who would prefer them. In addition, comprehensive case management is available in conjunction with direct services.
Getting started with developmental intervention services at RMHS is simple and anyone can refer a child for an evaluation.
To get started, contact the Intake Department, call 303-BIRTH23 or complete the referral form at www.rmhumanservices.org/ei-referral-form.
From there, a member of our intake team will call you to schedule an evaluation for your child. During the evaluation, your child’s development will be tracked through fun and engaging play-based strategies. After the evaluation, we will recommend next steps for you and your child.
To learn more, visit www.rmhumanservices.org/ei.