Child Development Guide

We explore some of the main concerns parents might have when it comes to their child's development.

Understanding child development

Tracking your child's development is important in understanding if their development is in line with developmentally appropriate guidelines. In some instances, a delay in any area of their development may simply be a temporary issue. But in other cases, a delay that is prolonged and accompanied by a delay in other areas of their development may cause further investigation. Developmental delay can be one feature of a rare disease or genetic syndrome and also warrant genetic analysis.

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The main areas of child development

The main areas of child development include physical and gross motor skills, emotional and social skills, language and communication skills, and cognitive and comprehension skills, including learning ability.

Within each stage of a child's life, there are clearly established developmental milestones a child is expected to meet for their age. For example, an 18-month-old would be expected to have already mastered the physical skill of walking. Many of these milestones are not necessarily expected at a specific age but within a range of ages. Walking is a skill that infants master anywhere between 9 and 18 months of age. While most babies are walking independently by 14 months, walking for the first time at 18 months may still fall within the range of normal gross motor skills development. However, if a child is not yet walking by the age of 18 months, then a delay may be diagnosed.

Child development progress

parents need to observe and track their child's developmental progress and compare it to globally recognized developmental milestones. When it comes to developmental delay, early intervention is key in making sure the right support reaches a child to build on a specific area of their development. Sometimes this might involve activities and exercises parents can do at home with their child. In other instances, this might involve professional support and therapy.

Sometimes a developmental delay is the feature symptom of a rare disease. Many genetic syndromes manifest themselves through developmental delay. These may be delays with reaching physical skill milestones, or often also delays with reaching cognitive and speech milestones too.

One example of this is Angelman syndrome. Children with this rare disease often experience delays in all areas of their development. They also display delayed speech delay, with many affected individuals developing almost none, to very limited speech capabilities.

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