Child and mom

What to Know about Early Childhood Development Milestones

The first few years of a baby’s life are crucial for development. How they move, act, talk, and respond to different stimuli are indicators of whether they are on track in their growth. These are all milestones.

All children should be able to do certain things from two months to five years. Some may be a little ahead of their development and some may be a bit behind. It’s important for parents to know what to look forward to and when to call the doctor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a great resource for a child’s developmental milestones along with a free mobile app parents can use for tracking. But here's the timeline to watch for:

Two Months

Most babies will start to smile at people. They will try to look at their parents and can briefly calm themselves by sucking on their hands. They begin to coo or make gurgling sounds and will follow sounds. They pay attention to faces and will start to follow things with their eyes. They can hold their heads up and may start pushing up when lying on their tummies.

Talk to your doctor if the baby:

  • Doesn’t respond to loud sounds
  • Doesn’t watch moving objects
  • Doesn’t smile at people
  • Doesn’t bring hands to mouth
  • Can’t hold head up when on tummy

Six Months

Most babies know their parents by this age and like playing with them. They also like to look at themselves in a mirror. They make sounds in response to sounds. They will start putting vowels together when babbling and will respond to their name. They bring things to their mouth, pass items between hands, and try to get things that are out of reach. By six months they should be able to roll over from front to back and back to front. They will start to sit without support and can support their weight when standing. Sometimes they crawl backward.

Talk to your doctor if the baby:

  • Doesn’t reach for things
  • Shows no affection for caregivers
  • Doesn’t respond to surrounding sounds
  • Has difficulty getting things to their mouth
  • Doesn’t make vowel sounds
  • Doesn’t roll over
  • Doesn’t laugh or squeal
  • Seems stiff or flops like a rag doll
Mom Smiling to Her Baby

12 Months

By year one they should at least be shy with strangers and cry when their caregiver leaves. They have favorite things and people. They show fear. They will hand you a book when they want a story and help you get them dressed, and will repeat sounds and actions for attention. They will shake their head “no” and wave “goodbye.” They will try to say the words you say and respond to simple spoken requests. They start to do things correctly like drinking from a cup or brushing their hair. They will start banging, shaking, and throwing things. They will look at pictures of the right thing when it’s named. They may be able to stand alone, take a few steps without holding on, be comfortable walking while holding furniture, and sit up without help.

Talk to your doctor if baby:

  • Doesn’t crawl
  • Can’t stand when supported
  • Doesn’t search for things you hide
  • Doesn’t say words like “mama” or “dada”
  • Doesn’t point at things
  • Doesn’t shake their head or wave
  • Loses skills they once had

18 Months

Tantrums may start around this time. Children will start using their imagination when playing. They will also hand things to others when playing. They will likely be afraid of strangers and affectionate with familiar people. They will start exploring on their own if their parents are nearby. They should have a vocabulary of several words, including “no,” and will point to show what they want. They know what ordinary things are, will scribble, and can follow simple verbal commands. By this time, they should be able to walk up steps and run. They can also pull toys when walking, help undress themselves, drink from cups, and eat with a spoon.

Talk to your doctor if the child:

  • Can’t walk
  • Doesn’t show things to others
  • Doesn’t gain new words
  • Doesn’t have at least six words in their vocabulary
  • Doesn’t notice or care when a caregiver leaves or returns
  • Doesn’t know what familiar items are for
  • Doesn’t copy others
Little Girl Playing on a Slide

Two Years

Your child will show more independence and even defiance by this age. They will get excited when they’re with other children and will play more often with other children. They copy the behavior of others. They can point to things or pictures of things when they’re named. They should know the names of familiar people and body parts, and will point to things in books and form sentences with two to four words. They will start to build with blocks, sort shapes and colors, play simple make-believe games, start using one hand more than another, complete sentences, and rhymes from familiar books, and follow instructions like, “pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper.” Finally, they can climb on furniture without help, walk up and down stairs holding the handrail, throw balls overhand, stand on tiptoe, and start to run.

Talk to your doctor if the child:

  • Doesn’t use simple two-word phrases
  • Doesn’t know what to do with common things like spoons or cups
  • Doesn’t copy actions or words
  • Can’t follow simple instructions
  • Can’t walk steadily
  • Loses any skills they once had
Little Girl and Her Mom in a Doctor Appointment

Development Goes On

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening for general development through 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months. The CDC has guidelines for other milestones to look for through the age of five years, along with warning signs of when to contact your doctor.

AltaMed provides a complete host of pediatric services including age-appropriate immunizations and screenings. For information or to make an appointment call (888) 499-9303.

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Mother and Baby

Tips to Keep Your Baby Safe

Babies depend on us for everything — feeding, dressing, changing, bathing. Parents are caregivers and protectors. It’s a full-time job.

Expectant parents, grandparents, or anyone who plans to have babies in the house — even for a visit — should take some time to look at the basics for keeping babies safe in a number of situations.

Dad Holding His New Born

Baby-proofing basics

Babies are tiny, helpless things that usually stay where you put them — at least for a few months. It doesn’t take long until they start crawling, scooting, cruising, and eventually toddling. You would be surprised the things a baby can get into, so take the time to literally get on their level. Crawl around and actively look for potential hazards.

  • Electrical outlets — These are easy to fill with plastic covers.
  • Curtains — Hang them up out of baby’s way.
  • Cords — Keep blind and electric cords out of reach.
  • Tablecloths — Babies can pull on these and bring whatever is on the table tumbling down.
  • Tall furniture — Anchor entertainment centers and dressers to the wall for when babies start climbing.
  • Cabinets — It’s easy to install pantry locks inside the doors to keep out curious babies.
  • Gates — Put these up early so the baby won’t see them as barriers to exploration.
Mom Bathing Her Baby

Making bath time safe

Bath time should be a fun experience for a baby. It’s important to get clean but just as important for the baby to experience the water and see it as something positive. Here are some tips for making bath time a safe time for your baby.

  • Prepare — Get everything you need for the bath before bringing the baby to the bathroom.
  • Fill the tub — Check the water temperature to make sure it’s not too hot before putting the baby in the water. Adjust the hot water heater so it’s no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Stay put — Never leave a baby unattended or in the care of an older child. Babies can drown in one inch of water.
  • Cover it — Put a cushioned cover or a hand towel on the faucet to protect the baby’s head, should they bump it.
  • Bath seats — Place them far enough from the faucet so baby can’t reach. Also never lift the seat with the baby in it.
  • Lock it — Close the toilet lid and get a lock. A curious baby could fall in. Also use pantry locks for the bathroom cabinets.
Mom Securing Her Baby in Chair

Getting ready to ride

Everyone needs to be buckled up in a car, especially babies. They should always ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the maximum height and weight listed on the instructions.

Every state has unique requirements about children riding in car seats. For California, car seats are required by law. The California Department of Highway Patrol provides a breakdown of current car seat laws for infants and children based on age and weight. Additionally, the California Office of Traffic Safety has information on where new parents can get discounted car seats, or in some cases, for free.

It is also important to use a new car seat whenever possible as safety standards are constantly evolving. Never use a damaged car seat or one that has been in an accident, and never leave a child alone in a car, even for a moment. Put things you need near your baby to remind you to take your baby out of the car.

Babies Playing with Cubes

Playing it safe

Toys, clothes, and other items come with age recommendations for a reason. Babies are always putting things in their mouths, so age-appropriate toys shouldn’t have anything that could be a choking hazard. There also shouldn’t be any cords, sharp edges, or other potential dangers.

  • Stay close — Don’t leave a baby unattended in a swing, bouncer, or activity center.
  • Stay grounded — Don’t put play items on beds or sofas where the child can roll off.
  • Check surroundings — Make sure there are no cords, plants, or other items near where your baby is playing.
  • Sleep right — Swings, bouncers, and other similar items should not be used as substitutes for cribs.
  • Move on — Stop using anything your baby outgrows, or anything that becomes damaged.
  • Register — Register items with the manufacturer in case there is ever a product recall.

Keeping babies healthy

Keeping babies safe includes making sure they have the proper immunizations. AltaMed pediatric patients can get their vaccinations for mumps, measles, HPV, and the flu, to keep them, and the community, healthy.

We can also direct you to social services that can help you with your child’s nutrition and other resources. For information or to make an appointment call (888) 499-9303.

Happy kind after getting a vaccine

Child Immunizations: What, Why, When

We all want to make the best choices for our children and keep them safe. Friends and family, social media, and news reports may have a lot to say about vaccinations for children, but do you have the facts? What are vaccinations, why should your child get immunized, and when do they need them?

Let AltaMed take the mystery out of vaccinations so you can protect your child from preventable diseases and help protect those around you.

What Are Vaccinations?


Modern childhood vaccinations have been around for about 60 years. They were developed to stop the spread of infectious diseases that once killed thousands of people each year.

By injecting a small amount of weak or inactive germs into the body, a child’s immune system learns to recognize the disease and develops antibodies (proteins that fight viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances) to eliminate the threat of illness. This prepares the immune system to protect a child’s body if they ever come into contact with that disease again.

Why Should I Vaccinate My Child?

Child Being Vaccinated

Getting your child vaccinated between birth and six years of age protects them from 14 deadly diseases including measles, mumps, and polio. Vaccinating your child also helps protect your friends, family, and neighbors who are at greater risk of disease and cannot get vaccinated themselves because they are too young or have certain health problems.

Children are most vulnerable when they are born, and they depend on you to make the right choices to protect them. It is critical to stick to the vaccination schedule provided by your child’s doctor. No matter the age, preventing dangerous diseases outweighs any possible side effects such as slight pain, swelling, or low-grade fever that your child may experience. Take the proper action to build your child’s immune system during their critical developmental stages.

How Safe Are Vaccinations?

Lab Doctor

The short answer is very. Vaccines are constantly re-evaluated and studied by scientists and researchers. Serious reactions to vaccines are rare, occurring only once in every million doses. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Immunization Safety Office, the current vaccine supply in the United States is the safest in history.

Are There Rules or Laws About Vaccines?

Medical Utensils

The state of California requires all children attending public or private school to receive the doctor-recommended immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. This mandatory vaccination helps keep overall immunity levels high and protects the community members, including other schoolchildren, who cannot receive vaccinations.

Vaccinating Babies & Children

Child Being Vaccinated

The recommended immunization schedule that promotes immunity for infants and children begins at birth and carries through to age six. There are 10 vaccines for babies and children for 14 diseases. Although babies are typically born with strong immune systems—and also receive some protection from their mothers through the transmission of antibodies during breast feeding—they still need help fighting bacteria, germs, and viruses.

Even the most cautious parent cannot stop a child from being exposed to disease 100% of the time. Whether it’s from unvaccinated friends, neighbors, or family, or from public places (day care, the grocery store, the park), unvaccinated children under the age of five are at risk of getting sick from a disease.

Vaccinating Adolescent Children

Adolescent Being Vaccinated

The CDC recommends four vaccines for almost all children ages 11-12: meningococcal, human papilloma virus (HPV), the collective Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and influenza (the flu). Meningococcal diseases are rare but are spread by sharing food and drinks or kissing. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts, and is associated with cervical cancer in women, and other types of cancers in both men and women.

The Tdap vaccine is a booster for the children’s DTaP vaccine, necessary for older children because the effectiveness of the first vaccine wears off over time. Doctors recommend that all children six months and older receive the flu vaccine every year because the flu virus changes each year.

It is Free!

Baby Being Vaccinated

We encourage you to follow the immunizations schedule into their adolescence, so they are protected during every stage of their life. Here at AltaMed, all the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available free of cost! We provide childhood, adolescent, and HPV immunizations for patients 0-17 years of age.

Visit an AltaMed location near you or contact us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider to stay on track of your child’s immunization timeline.

What to Know about Early Childhood Development Milestones