Developmental monitoring observes how your child grows and changes over time and whether your child meets the typical developmental milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving. Developmental monitoring observes how your child grows and changes over time. Parents, grandparents, early childhood providers, and other caregivers can participate in developmental monitoring. You can use a checklist of developmental milestones to see how your child is developing. If you notice that your child is not meeting milestones, talk with your doctor or nurse about your concerns.
When you take your child to a well visit, your doctor or nurse will also do developmental monitoring. They might ask you questions about your child’s development or will talk and play with your child to see if he or she is developing and meeting milestones. A missed milestone could be a sign of a problem, so the doctor or another specialist will take a closer look by using a more thorough test or exam.
If your child is at higher risk for developmental problems due to preterm birth, low birthweight, environmental risks like lead exposure, or other factors, your healthcare provider may also discuss additional screening. If a child has an existing long-lasting health problem or a diagnosed condition, the child should have developmental monitoring and screening in all areas of development.
If your child’s healthcare provider does not periodically check your child with a developmental screening test, you can ask that it be done.
Developmental Screening & Assessments
A brief test using a screening tool does not provide a diagnosis, but it indicates if a child is on the right development track or if a specialist should take a closer look. If the screening tool identifies an area of concern, a formal developmental evaluation may be needed. This formal evaluation is a more in-depth look at a child’s development, usually done by a trained specialist, such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or other specialist.
Many children with developmental delays or behavior concerns are not identified as early as possible. As a result, these children must wait to get the help they need to do well in social and educational settings.
In the United States, about 1 in 6 children aged 3 to 17 years have one or more developmental or behavioral disabilities, such as autism, a learning disorder, or attention deficit disorder. In addition, many children have delays in language or other areas that can affect how well they do in school. However, many children with developmental disabilities are not identified until they are in school, by which time significant delays might have occurred and opportunities for treatment might have been missed.
Research shows that early intervention treatment services can greatly improve a child’s development.
Services can include a variety of options, depending on the child’s need, such as therapy to help the child talk, move and walk, learn, and interact with others.
Although early intervention is extremely important, intervention at any age can be helpful. It is best to get an evaluation early so that any needed interventions can get started. When parents are concerned about a child’s development, it can be very challenging for them to figure out the right steps to take. Talk to your pediatrician or child care provider/teachers if you have any concerns about your child’s development.
Music supports all areas of young children’s development. Two areas are social-emotional and physical (motor) skills. Music is often shared with other people in singing, dancing, and playing instruments together. Music is a social experience that offers infants and toddlers many opportunities to:
Early Brain Development and Health
The early years of a child’s life are very important. One of the main reasons is how fast the brain grows. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life.
How well a brain develops depends on many factors in addition to genes, such as:
Children depend on parents, family members, and other caregivers to develop the skills to become independent and lead healthy and successful lives. How the brain grows is strongly affected by the child’s experiences. Children grow and learn best in a safe environment where they are protected from neglect and from extreme or chronic stress with plenty of opportunities to play and explore.
Children learn best when parents and other caregivers take turns when talking and playing, and build on their child’s skills and interests. Nurturing a child by understanding their needs and responding sensitively helps to protect children’s brains from stress. Speaking with children and exposing them to books, stories, and songs helps strengthen children’s language and communication.
Exposure to stress and trauma can have long-term negative consequences for the child’s brain, whereas talking, reading, and playing can stimulate brain growth. Ensuring that parents and other caregivers have the resources and skills to a provide safe, stable, nurturing, and stimulating care is critical.
Tracking children’s development and making sure they reach developmental milestones and ensuring children receive any intervention when needed. To learn and grow appropriately, a baby’s brain has to be healthy and protected.
Vaccinations can help protect against infections. During pregnancy, the brain can be affected by infectious diseases, exposure to toxins or when pregnant mothers experience stress, trauma, or mental health conditions. Regular health care during pregnancy can help prevent complications. Newborn screenings can detect conditions that are potentially dangerous.
Healthy brain growth depends on the right care and nutrition. Because children’s brains are still growing, they are especially vulnerable to traumatic injuries, infections, or toxins. Childhood vaccines can also help protect children.
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) work with children with various disorders from mild articulation delays to more complex disorders such as autism, Down Syndrome, hearing impairment, motor speech disorders, and other developmental delays.
Things to do to Support Your Child’s Brain Development
What is harmful? Harsh voices or hearing “no” all day. Not being picked up when crying or listened to when upset. Frequent caregiver turnover, unpredictability. Caregivers who are too tired or overwhelmed by responsibilities. Drugs, guns or lots of strangers in the environment. Lack of toys, over-use of TV. No attention paid to healthy eating.