What is a Developmental Checklist?

At routine well baby visits, parents can expect to receive a lot of information about their growing child: height, weight, body mass index, what vaccinations are required or recommended, and dietary suggestions and restrictions.

Pediatricians may also ask about, or provide information regarding, what developmental milestones a child has reached for his or her age.  Questions about whether a baby is rolling over or feeding himself, or how a toddler is using language or whether a preschooler is dressing herself are all questions designed to determine whether a child is meeting certain milestones of normal childhood development.

Pediatricians use uniform child developmental checklists to determine whether children are reaching developmental milestones in the way they speak, behave, move, learn, and play.  These are used to determine whether a child is functioning at the appropriate developmental level for the child’s age.  They are not used to diagnose a child’s problem, if there is one, but rather as a screening tool to determine if further testing is warranted.

A quick web search will turn up hundreds of hits for developmental checklists such as the one on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site here.

The checklists are broken down into age categories:  3 months, 7 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years.

It is important for parents to bear in mind that all children develop at various rates and therefore variations in the rate at which children meet developmental milestones is to be expected.  If, for instance, a child is missing a milestone or two out of the many for his or her age, that does not necessarily mean he or she has a developmental delay or disorder.

It is important to be familiar with the milestones, however, so that parents can help their healthcare provider determine if a child has a developmental deficiency or may need further testing and diagnosis in order to determine if a treatment or intervention is necessary.

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