Sponsored by: Help Me Grow South Carolina
In the first few years of human life, nearly one million new neural connections are formed in the brain every second. “So every second counts,” says Lorraine Cragan-Sullivan, developmental screening program coordinator at Help Me Grow South Carolina, “and parents are the key to assisting their child’s development.”
Cragan-Sullivan also serves as the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador to South Carolina, helping parents and professionals learn more about children’s developmental milestones.
Cragan-Sullivan wants every small child in the state to grow and develop in a healthy way. For that, parents must be familiar with three key concepts about development.
1. Know your child’s milestones
Milestones are skills children develop by certain ages. For example, a one-year-old should be able to play peek-a-boo, respond to simple requests and bang two things together.
Most parents are aware of developmental milestones, Cragan-Sullivan says, but few parents of one-year-olds can name more than a handful of the 23 developmental tasks their children should be able to complete.
A one-year-old should also know that handing a book to an adult is an indication that they want the adult to read them a story. They should be able to stick out an arm or leg to assist in getting dressed. Those milestones are less well recognized by most parents.
Milestones can be broken down into five main areas of development:
Communication: speaking and understanding language
Gross motor skills: large movement of the body, like sitting up, walking and jumping
Fine motor skills: use of fingers to scribble or write
Problem solving: figuring out how things work through play
Personal-social: behavior and interactions with others like sharing, relating or looking at a parent