You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Is my child reaching developmental milestones?

My husband and I went out to breakfast this morning and he was “flirting” with another girl!  He is a sucker for cute cheeks and bright smiles.  We saw a darling baby with both and a big bow headband to top it off!  The parents allowed us to ooh and ahh over their precious daughter and later we were talking about how we loved that sweet stage of development when our children would give us that toothless grin.  Each developmental stage has milestones that parents love, and we want all children to reach those milestones on time.

Developmental milestones are things that most children do at certain ages.  Reaching those milestones show us that children are developing well.  There is a wide range of normal with development, but there are certain red flags when parents should alert their child’s doctor.

We hear a lot about autism.  Early detection of autism or any developmental delay is important so that a child can receive help early.  Early detection and intervention makes a huge difference for children!  Your child’s doctor should be looking at your child’s growth and development at each well child check.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s physician screen for developmental delays or early signs of autism at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 to 30 months.  Parents too can look for red flags that may need to be discussed with their child’s doctor.

Red Flags

Age 2 to 3 months

  • Your baby does not make good eye contact with you.

Age 3 months

  • Your baby does not smile at you.

Age 6 months

  • Your baby does not laugh.

Age 9 months

  • Your baby is not babbling or making consonant sounds.

Age 12 months

  • Your baby does not turn to you when you call his or her name.
  • Your baby does not wave bye bye with encouragement.

Age 12 to 14 months

  • Your baby does not have any words.

Age 14 months

  • Your baby does not point at things.

Age 18 months

  • Your baby does not pretend.

Don’t panic if you do not see one of these milestones, many times with encouragement or by providing increased opportunity children reach the milestone.  However, a conversation with your child’s doctor is important.  Because you are a parent, you know your child best!  If you have concerns, be sure that you insist that you have time to discuss them with your child’s doctor.  Every state has an early intervention program that can assess if a child has a developmental delay from birth to age 3.  These programs are free and referrals can be made by a health care professional or by a parent.  Indiana’s early intervention program is First Steps.  Any parent can access their states early intervention program by calling The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities at 1-800-695-0285.  This center can give you your state’s early intervention program’s contact information.

If your child is age 3 or older and you have concerns, the public school system will complete the evaluation.  Contact your local elementary school or school board and they will give you the information needed to obtain developmental screening for you child.

Most importantly, if you are concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait!  The earlier your child gets help, the more successful it is!  You are the parent, you are your child’s advocate! 

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


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  1. Kaitlyn

    First Steps has helped our family and our son in so many ways just in the last few months. I finally trusted my gut and we started the process of getting him the help he needed when he turned 15 months old and the gap between where he should have been developmentally and where he actually was was pretty profound. I just wish I would have listened to that gut instinct many months prior. My son has several oral/motor, sensory, speech, and additional gross and fine motor goals we are currently working on. He receives 2 hours of speech and occupational therapy a week. I remember even trying to console him as an infant thinking that this was more than just reflux, more than just ‘he’s a spitter’, more than he has colic, more than he’s just over drooling because he’s teething….. I knew something wasn’t right, but couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was. I think often as new mothers with worries or concerns, we aren’t always listened to the way we should be. So often society gives us the little head nod and smile and assures us that things will be fine… and many times they are. But… Mothers are given that instinctual worry for a reason. While my son is making progress and receiving the extra support he needs, I do wish I would have pressed a bit harder sooner in finding out some answers. Cindy- You are doing a wonderful thing by having First Steps talk with newer moms. After teaching middle school and high school Special Education for 8 years, I know first hand how incredibly important those early years are. Thank you also for your support as we continue or journey with First Steps.


    • Kaitlyn, you are a great Mom and were very intuitive. Listen to your “gut” Moms…you know your children best. Every state has an early intervention program for children from birth to age 3…learn how to access it for your child!


  2. Karen

    Can you have a school do an evaluation even if your child does not attend?


    • In the state of Indiana, if your child is age 3 or older your child will be evaluated in the school district that you are living in. So….whatever school district that is, you would call for an evaluation. This eval would be for delays that would affect education only. Any other developmental issue would have to be addressed through MD referrals elsewhere. Early intervention programs that address all issues usually are from birth to age 3. Hope this answers the question!


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