McHenry County Department of Health: Infants reach development milestones at different rates


Perhaps your 6-month-old has not rolled over yet, but the child development chart shows some babies start rolling over at five months. Or possibly your neighbor’s 11-month-old is walking, but your 13-month-old has not attempted to walk.

Maybe you are worried your baby’s development is not where it should be and wonder what this means for his or her future. Comparing your baby’s development to other infants or to norms on developmental charts should be avoided. Instead, it is important to know babies develop at different rates and should only be compared to their individual milestones from the previous week or month.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for a detailed list of developmental milestones by age.

Infant development is divided into four categories:

Social: How your baby interacts to the human face and voice. Examples include learning to smile and coo. A social delay may indicate a problem with vision or hearing or with emotional or intellectual development.

Language: Receptive language development (how well baby actually understands) is a better gauge of progress than expressive language development (how well baby actually speaks). Slow language development can indicate a vision or hearing problem and should be evaluated.

Large motor development: Holding their head up, sitting, pulling up, rolling over and walking are examples of large motor development. Very slow starters should be evaluated to be certain there are no physical or health risks for normal development.

Small motor development: Eye-hand coordination, reaching or grasping, and manipulating objects are examples of small motor development. Early accomplishments may predict a person will be good with their hands, but delays do not necessarily mean they are going to be all “thumbs” later.

If you are concerned about your infant’s development, make sure to talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. The McHenry County Department of Health, in collaboration with the Mental Health Board, offers a free developmental screening program. Please call 815-334-4518 if you would like to schedule a screening for your infant.

• Kathy Bennett coordinates the Family Case Management Program at McHenry County Department of Health and can be reached at 815-334-4510.