In almost 20 years, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have updated guidelines for developmental milestones for children. It has been said that earlier the milestones were depicted with 50 per cent accuracy which means there are 50 per cent chances a child may not follow the developmental milestone such as crawling, walking, making sounds, recognising a face, start smiling at a familiar face, etc. Now CDC has updated the milestone with 75 per cent accuracy which helps to track a child's growth against the developmental checklists.
The recent update has new benchmarks to help parents spot developmental delays and signs of autism earlier in a child's life. The revisions and new updates to the developmental milestones come after two decades of new research on child development. The decision also arrives at a time when parents and Educators may feel concerned about the developmental effects the COVID-19 pandemic may have had on children.
One of the major changes to the developmental milestones was having fewer milestones for each age. The CDC removed more than half of the milestones from the original 216 milestones across 10 checklists. These included duplicate milestones, such as "tries to use things the right way, like a phone, cup, or book," which was a noted milestone across multiple ages.
Two new checklists were added for babies at 15 months and 30 months of age. There's also a checklist for every well-child visit for children between 2 months and 5 years, bringing the total to 159 milestones across 12 checklists.
Not every child reaches every milestone, and some may take longer than others. Lora Torres, OTR, an occupational therapist for the Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, says the new CDC guidelines reflect the idea that there is a range of meeting developmental milestones While the new changes involve clearer benchmarks for when children develop certain behaviours, they will also raise the standard of how many children typically reach a milestone.
Even though in Australia, developmental milestones checklists are used less across early childhood services they can be used in conjunction with the approved frameworks to get a deeper understanding if there are concerns about a child's overall development or to ensure that a child is developing at their age/skill level. However, we must understand that each child develops at their own level and at their own rate and should not focus primarily on a checklist to ensure whether or not a child is meeting milestones.
For more information: The CDC Updated Their Developmental Milestones for Kids—Here's What Parents Need to Know