Four Milestones You Don’t Want to Miss

Every parent eagerly awaits the big milestones of the first year – first words, first steps, first tooth. But what about the firsts that don’t have their own special page in the baby book? We know no parent will ever post on Facebook “Look who lost their tongue thrust today!” But that and many other lesser known milestones are still important. Many are good indicators of how your baby is growing and developing. Each baby develops at their own pace, but if your infant is not fitting within these guidelines, it might be worth discussing with your pediatrician.

  • Holding up his head in tummy time by 4 months.
    Even if you’re not perfect with tummy time, your four month old baby should be able to hold up his head while pushing up on his arms.
    Why is this milestone important?
    If an infant is still having trouble lifting his head, it may indicate an issue with muscle tone or strength. One in 40 babies will have some form of motor delay in their first year that requires intervention. Often the earlier the issue is found, the quicker the condition can be identified and the more rapidly a baby can catch up.
  • Smiling back at you by 2 months.
    Brand new babies smile randomly and for all kinds of reasons. But by two months of age, your baby should be interacting with you, making eye contact, and smiling in response to your smile. Your baby may also smile when you tickle them or make funny noises.
    Why is this milestone important?
    This is one of the earliest forms of back and forth interaction. If your baby doesn’t seem to respond in this way, it may be a sign of hearing or vision impairment or, in rare cases, a developmental disorder. In any case, catching these things early and starting treatment can lead to a big difference in outcomes.
  • Keeping food in his mouth between 4 to 8 months.
    Newborns have a protective reflex called the tongue thrust which causes them to push out anything in their mouth using their tongues. Most babies lose this reflex between 4 and 8 months.
    Why is this milestone important?
    This is one of the best signs that your baby is ready for solid food. If a baby is still pushing food out with his tongue, it’s not quite time yet.
  • Babbling back and forth with you by 9 months.
    There may not be a single recognizable word in your baby’s half of the conversation, but by 9 months your little guy should be sending at least some jibberish your way when you talk with him.
    Why is this milestone important?
    This is a big step in the process of learning to speak. When your baby babbles with you, he’s not just making the sounds of speech that will later be words, he’s also copying the back and forth of conversation. If your baby is not babbling back and forth at this age, it may indicate a hearing or speech issue or could be an early sign of autism spectrum disorder. Again, early intervention can make a big difference.

In most cases, babies who are delayed in reaching a milestone catch up to their playgroup buddies – sometimes on their own, sometimes with a little help. But if you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s developmental, always discuss it with your pediatrician. And your doctor will do her part to stay on top of your baby’s growth as well. At KP, we use CHADIS, an online developmental questionnaire, to make sure we catch any issues that emerge. Before each well check, you’ll be asked to complete the age appropriate CHADIS questionnaire in the comfort of your home before the visit. Then when you arrive, you and your baby’s doctor can focus on your baby and any issues you or your doctor need to discuss.

If you have any questions at all about your growing and amazing baby, or if you have questions about how KP monitors your baby’s development, please discuss it with your doctor at your next visit.

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