What Infant Developmental Milestones Should I be Looking For?

Medical Malpractice
Birth injury
medical malpractice

By attorney Charles D. Brown

Even before birth, expectant parents often begin to question what developmental milestones their bundle of joy should meet. After birth, and during the first years of life, there are expected developmental milestones that pediatricians and parents reference in order to be certain that the child’s brain and body is developing properly. Failing to meet developmental milestones may be a sign that the child suffered an injury before, during, or shortly after the labor and delivery process.

Developmental Milestone Charts

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers the most commonly referenced developmental milestone charts. Using those charts, we have compiled a simple list of what developmental milestones families can expect during the early years of life.

Two Months:

  • Begins to follow sounds with eyes, recognize people, and looks around
  • Begins making cooing sounds and gurgling noises
  • Holds head up during “tummy time”
  • Shows signs of boredom if activities change, and begins self-soothing behaviors

Four Months:

  • Begins showing emotions, such as smiling or fussing, copies movement and expression
  • Supports head unassisted
  • Begins rolling over and pushing up on elbows
  • Recognizes familiar people
  • Begins babbling
  • Continues copying movements and expressions
  • Reaches and brings food and other items to mouth

Six Months:

  • Enjoys playing with others
  • Responds to emotions
  • Babbling develops into vowel sounds
  • Recognizes own name
  • Continues reaching for things and passing items between hands
  • Sits without support, begins rocking, rolls over in both directions
  • Begins trying to stand with assistance

Nine Months:

  • Has favorite toys
  • Babbling develops into recognizable sounds like “mamma” and “dadda”
  • Begins pointing
  • Begins to self feed by picking up items with thumb and forefinger
  • Stands without support
  • Crawls

One Year to 18 Months:

  • Shows emotions, such as shyness, fear, clinginess, or affection
  • Brings books and objects to parent
  • Plays “peek-a-boo” and similar games
  • Shows interest in pretending with toys (imagination)
  • Understands and uses words like “no” and “bye-bye”, begins forming simple words/phrases
  • Explores, continues to develop reaching, holding, and walking without support
  • Begins self-support behaviors like self-feeding with utensils, drinking from a cup, brushing hair and teeth, and follows basic instructions
  • Begins scribbling
  • Begins helping dress and undress

Two to Three Years:

  • Shows independence, greater range of emotions and behaviors
  • Says full sentences at least 3-4 words
  • Begins understanding shapes, colors, building, and make-believe
  • Follows simple commands
  • Begins kicking, running, and building coordination
  • Carries on basic conversation that is understandable
  • Begins working with levers, buttons, zippers
  • Draws/copies shapes

These developmental milestone charts are a good reference point for parents, but can vary depending on the individual child. Parents who notice that milestones are not being met at routine pediatrician visits, or who notice a regression in behavior and development, should contact their pediatrician to discuss possible causes. 

If it is suggested that a birth injury could be the cause of developmental delays, parents can also benefit from contacting an attorney who can offer guidance about the specific laws relating to birth injuries and their long-term implications.





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