Changes to the CDC’s Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones help us celebrate our children’s growth and development. Milestone aren’t just for all children. Monitoring the achievement of developmental milestones is an opportunity to celebrate all children, too! When a parent sees their child smile, or say their first word, or take their first step, or wave to the mailman; these are moments of joy. They are huge achievements, and can make all the work of caregiving feel worth it (at least for a minute)!

Monitoring milestones can help parents and providers feel confident in their caregiving, and support their children’s healthy development. The CDC recently updated their developmental milestones for the first time since 2004. The main goal of the changes to the milestones is to make it easier for parents, educators, and healthcare professionals to identify earlier when a child may need support, and to promote more open communication between families, providers, and health professionals. That’s a good thing. The earlier a possible developmental delay is identified and families can get the support that they need, the better it is for a child’s development. Knowing what milestones to watch for and celebrate in your child helps you support them on their growth journey!

The video below shows some of the ways parents have used the resources available from the CDC to watch their children move from milestone to milestone. (You can find a link to the resources referenced in the video at the bottom of this blog post.)

How the updated developmental milestones promote earlier intervention

Before the change, the milestones were set at 50% of all children achieving each milestone at the age the CDC noted. When half of children were not expected to meet the developmental milestones, there was more room for a “wait and see” approach. Sometimes, it wasn’t always clear when to stop waiting, and what exactly parents were waiting to see. Now, the milestones are set at the age when 75% of all children will achieve each one. This means that “a missed milestone expected of 75% or more of children is more clearly actionable than a missed milestone expected of only half of children that age,” explains Dr. Paul H. Lipkin, a member of the AAP Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and Council on Children with Disabilities, who assisted with the revisions. Read an article that explains the changes in more detail.

What we need to remember is that these milestones help us celebrate our children’s growth and development. Babies and young children develop on their own timeline and the milestones help us know what to expect, when, and when to check in with our pediatrician. These milestones are helpful guidelines for parents, but as a parent, you know your child best. If you have a question, reach out to your pediatrician. Communication, coordination, and cooperation play huge roles in supporting the little ones in our lives.

Developmental milestones are part of a bigger picture of early childhood health and development 

Monitoring the achievement of developmental milestones is just one strategy to support our children’s healthy development. The Collaboration for Early Childhood conducts vision and hearing screenings for young children in early childhood programs in Oak Park, and through the Developmental Screening Project, we also coordinate developmental screenings through a variety of partners in the community. These are ways that we can ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Remember, by age five a child’s brain is already 90% developed! Let’s make sure we optimize their ability to learn, explore and grow from day one. 


Interested in Cool Tools and Resources to Support your Child’s Development? 

  • Learn the Signs. Act Early. The CDC has a ton of tools to help parents monitor their child’s development including videos, checklists for each age period, and a free app! Explore their “Information for Families” webpage.
  • Watch and Help Me Grow. The Collaboration for Early Childhood publishes a durable flipbook that highlights developmental milestones from birth to age five. You can see a photo slideshow of the booklet here, or you can see a PDF of the booklet here. To order your own, fill out our contact form! Please note that this booklet does not reflect the changes to the CDC’s developmental milestones, but it will soon.
  • Attend the Parent Workshop, “How to Support Your Child’s Development” that’s coming up on Tuesday, April 12. It will be facilitated by Susan Klinger, a therapist at Oak-Leyden Developmental Services.
  • Contact us! We are here to answer any questions you have about child care, preschool, your child’s development, community resources, home visiting programs, and anything related to children five and under here in our community. Call us at 708-613-6122 or email
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