How the children play, learn, speak, act, and move can provide parents with important clues about how their child's development.
Skills such as taking the first step, smiling at people for the first time, or saying the first word are called developmental milestones, and they indicate the things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach these milestones from birth to age 5.
Having difficulties to reach particular milestones by the required age, or missing them completely can be linked to certain medical conditions, such as autism.
The CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Other studies suggest that these numbers are even higher, identifying 1 in 45 children aged 3 years and older with ASD.
It's the pediatricians which are usually responsible for checking for developmental milestones and a child's growth at every visit, but parents are also expected to pay attention to their child's development at home.
There are numerous mobile apps that track everything health-related from calories consumed to symptoms and treatments. Parents could benefit from such tracker app that could help them track their child's development between pediatrician visits.
A new app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called Milestone Tracker is exactly that kind of app. It allows parents to keep track of their child's growth and milestones in the comfort of their own home.
It is the addition to a big family of great CDC apps we reviewed here on SteadyHealth.
The app was developed by the CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program with the goal to provide parents with the specific information they should look out for and expect as their child grows up, starting from two months to five-years-old.
Upon opening the app would let you create a child profile and add a child you want to track by entering personalized information such as age and gender. The CDC Milestone Tracker app can be used to track multiple children.
The child(ren) you add to the app will be available in the Children section. You can add more children to track or edit or remove these entries at any time.
Users can also switch between children at any time by tapping on the child's name that would open a drop-down menu.
Tracker tab includes several sections, including Milestone Checklists, When to Act Early, Tips & Activities, Milestone Quick View, and My Child's Summary.
Milestone Checklists allows parents to track their child's developmental progress by taking them though easy to follow questionnaire with questions asking if their child can do particular things expected the children to be able to do by a particular age.
The checklists are accompanied with photos and videos showing what each milestone looks like so that parents can better identify them in their own children.
The app includes the milestones for: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years.
For example, a 6-month baby should be able to recognize familiar faces and distinct them from strangers, respond to own name, respond to sounds by making sounds, so the questions will be focused on these milestones.
Also, a 2-year old child should be able to say sentences with 2 to 4 words, follow simple instructions, sort things by shape and color, and so on.
Parents can answer the questions with Yes, Not Yet, and Not Sure. Once the checklist is completed, the parents will be presented with 'When to Act Early' sheet that provides additional considerations that may be of concern and that should be discussed with child's doctor (for example, the missing milestones or developmental concerns).
Parents can review a child's monthly summary and email it or share it with their pediatrician before or during the visits.
Summary explains the milestones, asking you to celebrate them with your child (for reaching important milestones), check again those answered with Not Sure, and act early on developmental concerns and missed milestones, for example, if your 9-month-old still doesn't sit without support, or if 5-year old doesn't speak very clearly.
The CDC Milestone Tracker app also provides helpful age-appropriate tips and activities to support your child's development at each age and help them learn and grow.
Parents can also add appointments to keep track of their child's doctors' visits and get reminder notifications about recommended developmental screenings.
The privacy is something that might concern parents, however, the CDC app does not collect or share any personal information that can be used to identify them or their children.
Overall, the Milestone Tracker app is a very useful app with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, designed to help parents track their children growth and developmental milestones with the help of an interactive checklist and useful tips and activities for appropriate age.
Benefit: The app is primarily intended for parents who want to track their children's development and share the progress with their pediatrician