Developmental Screenings FAQs

Which screening should I use if my baby was born early?

Babies who were born early (before reaching 39 weeks gestation) are often called premature or “preemie” babies. If you have a preemie baby, you will want to track your baby’s development using their “adjusted age.” This is sometimes called “corrected age.” To learn your child’s adjusted age, count the number of weeks between the birth date and due date and subtract that from their current age.

Example: If you have a 6-month-old baby who was born 8 weeks early, the adjusted age would be 6 months minus 8 weeks. 8 weeks is about 2 months, so the adjusted age would be 4 months. When you use milestone checklists or screenings, you will want to use your child’s adjusted age (in this example, 4 months) to see how your baby is doing.

If your child was born early, you will want to use the adjusted age until your child is about 2 years old. Many preemies catch up to their full-term age more quickly. Your child’s doctor will help monitor your child’s development with you.

What should I do if my child missed a milestone?

Before you use monitoring and screening tools, it’s important to know that a missed milestone may not be cause for alarm! All children develop at their own pace. If a child is behind on reaching milestones, this may indicate that further screening or assessment is necessary.

It’s important that you talk with your child’s health care provider or early childhood professional if you have any concerns about how your child is doing. The earlier you act on any concerns, the better.

When and where should a developmental screening take place?

Developmental screenings typically take place in the child’s health care provider’s office. Your child's doctor monitors your child’s development at every visit through observation, talking with you, or more formal screening. Screenings are also often conducted in early childcare programs or at local family resource centers. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screenings at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months of age. This may include specific screenings to look for signs that may indicate autism.

What happens after a developmental screening?

After you have conducted the screening, share the results with your child’s health care provider. Even if there is no indication of delay or concerns, sharing this data helps facilitate discussion about your child’s development with the doctor. 

If the screening indicates concern, talk with your child’s doctor.

How are the results of my screening calculated?

Each question has a point value, and all the points are added at the end of the screening. Depending on your child’s age, the total score indicates if your child appears to meet expectations or needs review.

Developmental Milestones

Milestones are behavioral or physical checkpoints in children’s development as they grow. Skills such as taking a first step and clapping are developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act and move.

Select the age of your child below to see important milestones on the CDC website:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 1 year
  • 15 months
  • 18 months
  • 2 years
  • 30 months
  • 3 years
  • 4 years
  • 5 years

The CDC also offers a free milestone tracker app featuring illustrated checklists and tips for encouraging your child’s development.

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