Child Development Milestones

Toddler learning how to walkThe first couple of years after a difficult labor and delivery can be difficult for new parents because it is impossible to predict the degree of brain injury and developmental disabilities caused by medical malpractice.  Some children who experience birth trauma have no symptoms or deficits.  For others, however, the first indication of harm is missed developmental milestones like sitting up, crawling, and talking.  Every child develops at a different pace, and meeting or missing these milestones is not definitive evidence of an intellectual disability.  However, parents should keep a close eye on the milestones, and should report variations to their pediatrician during well-baby visits.  The doctor can then decide if further testing is required.

Cerebral Palsy

The time that doctors can make a cerebral palsy diagnosis depends on how severely the child is affected.  While there is no single test that can definitively make the diagnosis, children with cerebral palsy are typically identified by age two.  Children with extremely severe cerebral palsy may be identified early, while children with milder cerebral palsy may not be identified until age three to five, when the brain fully develops.

Intellectual Disability

Cerebral palsy is only one type of disability that can result from birth trauma.  In fact, many people with cerebral palsy have normal IQs.  Developmental delays, on the other hand, are deficits in a child’s intellectual ability.  These deficits may become apparent when a child begins missing developmental milestones.

Standard Milestones

There are no universally-agreed on ages for children to meet these milestones.  Indeed, failure to meet milestones is not necessarily an indication of a problem; rather, it is something to be considered by physicians along with other evidence before a clinical diagnosis can be made.  These are some milestones that pediatricians and other doctors will want to know about:

2 months

  • Begins to smile
  • Turns head toward noise
  • Coos/gurgles
  • Begins to follow objects with eyes
  • Holds head up when lying on stomach

4 months

  • Smiles at people
  • Copies facial expressions and movements
  • Begins to babble
  • Reaches for toys and other objects
  • Follows moving objects with eyes
  • Recognizes familiar people/objects
  • Holds head unsupported
  • Can shake toys
  • Brings hands to mouth
  • May roll over from stomach to back
  • Pushes with legs on floor

6 months

  • Begins to play with others
  • Responds to sounds by making sounds
  • Makes vowel sounds
  • Responds to own name
  • Brings objects to mouth
  • Moves objects from one hand to another
  • Rolls over in both directions
  • Begins to sit without support
  • Begins to crawl, sometimes moving backward first

9 months

  • Clingy with parents and familiar people, afraid of strangers
  • Understands “no”
  • Copies sounds and movements
  • Points with fingers
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Picks up objects with thumb and index finger
  • Stands while holding onto something
  • Crawls

1 year

  • Puts arms and legs out to help with dressing
  • Responds to simple requests
  • Gestures (i.e., waving, nodding head)
  • Tries to repeat words
  • Finds hidden objects
  • Drinks from a cup
  • Follows simple directions
  • Stands
  • Begins walking

18 months

  • Plays pretend (i.e., feeds a doll)
  • Speaks several words
  • Knows names of common objects
  • Can point to and identify body parts
  • Walks
  • May walk up steps
  • Eats with a spoon
  • May undress self

2 years

  • Copies others
  • Shows independence and defiance
  • Begins to play with other children
  • Speaks in small sentences
  • Repeats words
  • Begins to identify shapes and colors
  • Follows two-step instructions
  • Identifies animals
  • Runs
  • Walks up and down stairs while holding onto rail
  • Throws ball overhead

3 years

  • Shows affection for friends
  • Takes turns
  • Shows sympathy for others
  • Understands possession
  • Dresses/undresses self
  • Talks well enough for strangers to understand
  • Speaks in sentences
  • Uses toys with moving parts
  • Plays with small puzzles
  • Turns pages in books
  • Opens jars and turns door handles
  • Can pedal a tricycle
  • Can walk up and down stairs with one foot per step

Contact Us

If your child is missing developmental milestones and you are concerned that he or she has cerebral palsy or developmental delays, contact our birth injury lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or send us an online request for more information.  We can help you to determine whether your child was a victim of medical malpractice.

For More Information

Photo by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Learning_to_walk_by_pushing_wheeled_toy.jpg; attribution:  Shaun Mitchem