Watching your child grow and learn is one of the most exciting parts of being a parent. Understanding what milestones they should be reaching and at what time can be a fun way to track your child’s progress and feel confident in knowing when to ask questions.
You can read about different milestones your child should reach based on their age here.
You can track how your child is doing through both developmental monitoring (sometimes called developmental surveillance) and through developmental screening.
Developmental monitoring is the process of being aware of developmental milestones and observing your child over time to see if they reach age-appropriate milestones. Developmental monitoring is a great way to see your child grow as well as to be able to answer questions from your child’s health care provider about how they are doing, as well as to notice if you think your child is not meeting a milestone that they should. Always talk with your child’s health care provider if you have a concern about what milestones your child meets or when.
Developmental screening is a standardized set of questions about different aspects of a child’s abilities including language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends every child be screened at 9, 18 and 24-30 months or whenever a caregiver has a concern. Going through the process of a developmental screen can be both fun and educational. Many tools use activities children already engage in or view as games to assess milestones. When done with a caregiver, it can give ideas for new activities to try with your child as well as help you to understand the types of skills your child may be developing at each new stage.
It is important to ensure your child receives screening both so you as a caregiver can help encourage healthy development, and also to find potential areas of concern early. Many potential delays, if caught early, can be monitored or addressed so children do not experience long-term effects.
Some medical and childcare providers offer screenings on a regular basis as a part of well-child checks or through their programmatic curriculum. If your child has not been screened, you can access screening for free through Help Me Grow Alaska.
There are many validated tools for developmental screening. Help Me Grow Alaska uses the Ages and Stages Questionnaire version 3 both on paper and online. Click on the buttons on this page to access an online screening, or call one of our care coordinators to be mailed a paper copy.
Looking for more resources on developmental monitoring or screening? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information about developmental monitoring, screening, and evaluation as well as many tools to support parents in doing developmental monitoring at home: CDC Developmental Monitoring and Screening Page