What are Developmental Milestones?
This is the first in a series of planned articles about the scientific principles behind the Wunder platform. We want you to know why we built each piece the way we did, and why they matter for your child.
You’ve probably been hearing about developmental milestones since the day your baby was born, or maybe even earlier. You talk about them with your pediatrician or parent friends, you use Wunder or another app to track them, and you probably do some Googling on the side. But what are milestones, really? Why are they important? And why did we pick the ones we did for Wunder?
A developmental milestone is fundamentally the same as any other milestone: an event, or a personal checkpoint, that shows growth or positive change. Some milestones for adults are big, like graduating college or having a baby; some are smaller, like passing the first exam of the semester. Some usually happen around the same time for most people, while others may vary.
All of this is true for babies, too. Most children tend to achieve most milestones at around the same time, but others have very wide windows. Everyone knows the big milestones -- walking, talking, and so on -- but some of the others might leave you scratching your head. They all mean something important, though: your baby is growing up. And by following their milestones, you can learn a little more about how they’re growing up.
For example, let’s take one of those more puzzling milestones: at around 6 to 9 months, most children will look for an object after you drop it on the floor (though not necessarily in the right direction). Why does that matter? Because those children are demonstrating two important emerging cognitive abilities: memory, and an understanding of cause-and-effect/sequencing ‘Mom dropped something from up there, and now it’s on the floor!’.
(By the way, if you ever want an explanation like this for another Wunder milestone, try tapping it! Each of our milestones has a detail page that explains:
1) why it’s important and
2) what its typical age range of achievement is.)
Now, there’s not just one list of milestones out there. Every major child development organization has their own based on child development research they’ve conducted or sourced, and curated depending on what they think is most important. To build the Wunder curriculum, we started with the gold standard in the United States: the CDC. From there, we consulted several other sources from the US and abroad, including high-quality developmental assessments and early childhood education standards documentation.
We wanted our milestone selection to be rich, full of educational opportunities for you and your child, but still logical and relatively easy to follow. Since then, we’ve been working on improving Wunder to make sure understanding your child’s progress is as easy as opening the app.
Next time… Developmental Domains!