Developmental Milestones: Interview with Dr. Tanya

Susie McGee
Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann, author of Mommy Calls

Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann is a board certified pediatrician and the author of the best-selling parenting book Mommy Calls (AAP). She shared her expertise and advice with LoveToKnow on babies' developmental milestones.

Please tell us about yourself.

First and foremost, I am "Mommy" to two adorable boys, ages 15 months and 3 ½ years old. I see patients in my practice in Westlake Village and Moorpark, California, where I also teach monthly parenting workshops. In addition, I am a clinical instructor at UCLA and a designated spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, communicating complicated medical issues into easily understood concepts.

I am often called upon by local and national media when a pediatrician or parenting expert is needed and currently appear regularly on a variety of television programs including NBC's Today Show. In addition to writing Mommy Calls (AAP), I am editor in chief of The Wonder Years (Bantam and AAP) and the associate medical editor of the top-selling parenting book, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Bantam and AAP).

What inspired you to write your book Mommy Calls?

Mommy Calls was born one busy night at UCLA Children's Hospital when I was caring for sick children with my good friend and fellow resident, Dr. Michelle Shuffett. After answering what seemed to be dozens of calls one night, we began keeping track of the common concerns and questions. Although these calls came from moms, dads and other caregivers, we called them, "mommy calls". Over the years, answering parent questions in pediatric practice along with my experience from my own two boys, I've compiled the 101 most common questions parents ask their pediatrician in a simple, concise and easy-to-read format.

What developmental milestones should parents watch for in the first couple of years of a baby 's life?

Your child will grow and develop each and every day. The first few years are amazing as it seems there is a new smile, movement or word each day. Each child grows and develops at his or her own rate, which is why there is a wide range for each milestone. That said, if you have any concerns in your child's development, talk to your pediatrician. Here are a few common milestones to watch for:

  • By 2 months, your baby should smile back when you smile at him.
  • By 4 months, pushes up chest with hands and arms and lifts head when on tummy.
  • Around 6 months, may start to roll and sit with or without support.
  • Around 9 months uses thumb and forefinger to grasp items and begin to self feed.
  • Around 12 months, pulls to stand, may take first steps and responds when called.
  • Around 15 months, says a words including mama and dada, follows one-step commands.
  • By 18 months, walks and says 8 to 20 words, points to body parts.
  • Around 2 years old, runs and says two word sentences, follows two-step commands.

When should parents be worried?

Generally speaking, if it's only one milestone that your child hasn't hit yet, he may just need a bit more time and some encouragement. However, if your child is lagging behind in several different areas, such as motor skills and language, it may be a sign of something that needs further evaluation and treatment. Your pediatrician will evaluate your child's development at every well child visit. If you have any concerns, see your pediatrician--even if it's between regular check-ups.

Are there any steps/activities parents can take that would advance their child ' s development?

Everything you do with your child will advance her development in some way. Spend plenty of free play time with your child on the ground and encourage her to reach for a block or move towards a toy. Teach language by reading books everyday and talking and singing to her. Fill your home with love and encouragement.

Should children be pushed in their development?

Every child develops at his own rate. Pushing him won't help a child reach a milestone sooner. In fact, it may even backfire as he may refuse to do the activity that you are pushing him to do. Simple opportunity to achieve, encouragement and praise is all that he needs.

Where can we read more about you and your work?

For more information about Mommy Calls, please visit the Mommy Calls Web site or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Developmental Milestones: Interview with Dr. Tanya