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6 Surprising childhood milestones

You know to expect to celebrate your child’s first words, first steps and more, but you shouldn’t let these six surprising childhood milestones breeze right by! From your child’s first “no” to the first time he shares his toys, discover these unexpected reasons to do the happy dance.


Saying “no”

Toddler says No

Being defiant may not seem like a childhood milestone to celebrate, but the first time your child says “no” to you marks his realization that he is his own person with his own opinions. “Infants cannot speak but they will turn away from a bottle or breast when they are full and do not want any more milk,” shares Josephine Dlugopolski-Gach, M.D., Loyola University Health System pediatrician. “They are essentially saying, ‘No, I’m full.’ But, by age 2, they have the vocabulary and development to say ‘no’ to something that they do not want or like.” While no one said this stage of child development was easy, you can embrace it as a sign that your child is ready to learn — and test — his boundaries.

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Pumps herself on the swing

Girl pumping on a swing

Pushing your youngster on the swings is a parenting task most won’t complain about, but learning to gain momentum on her own while swinging on the swing is a sign of gross motor skills development. Kids may learn to ‘pump’ on the swing between ages 3 and 5 years of age, but this complicated movement takes coordination, which kids conquer at different ages.


Playing alone

Baby playing alone

You relish your slivers of alone time, but that moment that you realize your kiddo isn’t hanging from your leg is a heart-tugging moment to mark in his baby book. When your child becomes content playing all by himself without the constant need to be entertained, this crucial aspect in his emotional growth is a childhood milestone of independence, not a sign that you’re not keeping him busy enough.

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Knows his name

Baby knows his name

While you love to label your little one with cutie-patootie nicknames, the first time he responds to the name you put on his birth certificate is a child development milestone worth marking. Early recognition of your voice has been happening since your baby was just a few weeks old, but between 5 and 7 months of age, your youngster will begin connecting himself with his name thanks to the ability to match words with people and objects.


Imaginative play

Toddler engages in imaginative play

Before you dismiss your youngster’s play-time as nothing new, watching your kiddo use his imagination is a sign of his cognitive and social development. Not only is he practicing problem solving and social skills, but an article in Psychology Today reports make-believe play to be vital to your child’s normal development. “Children should be engaging in imaginative play by 24 months of age,” explains Dr. Dlugopolski-Gach. “They will engage even earlier to some extent but by age 2 they will understand the imaginative play more.”



Preschoolers sharing

Sharing can be a tough task, but learning to take turns is a huge childhood milestone that doesn’t often get the spotlight it deserves. While kiddos can certainly be conditioned to share around 3 years old — so long as they are taught — sharing on his own is actually a sign of empathy, which doesn’t often occur until around age 6. So when you witness him considering how others feel and sharing without being prompted, pour on the praise — this is a huge developmental milestone!

Keep in mind that kids may show these signs of child development at different ages, but these six surprising childhood milestones are certainly worth applauding when they do occur. So, remember to grab the baby book and write them down — it will at least help alleviate the frustrations of parenthood when you’re reminded that these markers are signs that your child is developing!

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