The stages of growth and development throughout childhood are remarkably similar across cultures, races and economic classes. Children develop in predictable sequences and their rates of achieving particular milestones are remarkably fixed and immutable. For any individual child, of course, a specific milestone (such as sitting alone) may be achieved either early or late relative to the general expectation (anywhere from 3 to 8 months). Parents can become anxious about a child who is on the slow side in reaching milestones, especially if other children they know are developing more quickly. Such anxiety is based on a completely false assumption - slow rates of development are usually part of a child's genetic make-up and are not predictive of their ultimate intelligence or competence.
There are many books and websites devoted to examining the stages of growth for young children. These usually separate abilities into different categories, such as, physical growth, gross motor coordination (crawling, walking), fine motor coordination (finger dexterity), social skills, verbal skills, and cognitive abilities. Many children develop at different rates in these different areas, so that they may be taller than average but slower to talk, or very socially aware but slow to walk, etc. Parents should remember to put these individual differences into perspective when comparing their child to an average number. However, if you are really concerned about some aspect of your child's development, do not hesitate to ask your pediatrician or public health nurse for their advice. To learn more about milestones, check out the following resources.
Books We Recommend
Baby Whisperer series, Tracy Hogg
Free Stuff For Baby!: The New Parents' Ultimate Guide to Hundreds of Dollars of Baby Freebies and Parenting Resources, Sue Hannah
On the Day You Were Born, Debra Frasier
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, Elizabeth Pantley
What to Expect in the First Year, Heidi E. Murkoff, Sandee E. Hathaway, Arlene Eisenberg
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