A developmental milestone is a skill that a child acquires within a specific time frame.
Most children usually acquire developmental milestones or skills during a specific time frame or "window", so we can predict when most children will learn different skills. For example, learning to walk. Most children learn this skill between the ages of 9 and 15 months.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross Motor Development refers to the bigger motor movements such as rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, running, jumping etc.
Gross Motor Milestones develop in a sequential fashion. For example, Babies must learn to crawl and pull themselves up to standing before they can walk. Each milestone that a child develops is a progression of the previous skill they achieved.
A child’s brain grows very rapidly during the early years of life. During this time, your child is learning all sorts of new skills.
Each child is an individual and may meet developmental milestones a little earlier or later than their peers. It is important to remember each child is unique and will develop at his or her own pace.
However, there are windows of time when most children will meet a milestone. For example, most children learn to crawl on hands and knees between 5 and 13 months. So, if your child is 11 months and not yet crawling but is able to get up on all fours and rock and can commando crawl, they have acquired the skills they need to learn to crawl and may begin crawling soon. However, if you have a child that is 13 months of age who is not yet crawling, it would be a good idea to talk with your child's paediatrician, GP or child and family nurse or physiotherapist to make sure there aren't any medical or developmental problems.
The World Health Organisation has a guide on the time frames for achieving gross motor milestones.How can I help my child meet these developmental milestones?
There is not much we can do about the genetic factors that we pass down to our children. If both parents were late walkers, it is not unreasonable to expect your child may follow the same sequence.
The other factor, being environment, includes experiences children have in their home, school and community. The environment can either improve or harm a child's genetic blueprint. For example, neglected children who live in third world countries may not reach their IQ potential because of the impact of their environment on their brain development.
Most children will develop at their own individual time frame and do not usually require any specific exercises or training to assist their development. Parents often think they need to run out and buy special toys, music and games to stimulate their child's development. This is often not necessary and we have to remind ourselves that it is more important to provide the following, every-day activities you can do with your child, to encourage brain development.
What treatment options are available for my child if they are not reaching their milestones?
You can seek advice from a physiotherapist who works in paediatrics if you are concerned about your child gross motor skills. They can teach you strategies, exercises and home activities to help your child develop their gross motor skills.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech, understanding and feeding you should seek advice from a paediatric speech pathologist.
If you have concerns about your child’s fine motor, self-help skills or cognition you should seek advice from a paediatric occupational therapist.
Your GP, Paediatrician or local Child and Family Nurse should be able to assist you with any concerns you may have and refer you to the relevant health practitioners.
At Lifestyle & Sports Physiotherapy, Breanne Jakeman has been treating the paediatric population for over 9 years. Breanne worked in the Paediatric Allied Health Unit at Campbelltown hospital from 2003 – 2006, spending 12 months as the Paediatric Senior therapist.
If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please call (02) 4647 3373 to speak to Breanne or to make an appointment.