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Baby "Missing" Milestones?

When Charlie Julien of Greendale, WI, was about 8 months old, his mom, Alison, began to worry. His older sister had been a textbook baby, standing and talking right when she was "supposed" to. But Charlie seemed more relaxed about hitting developmental milestones. In fact, he wasn't even sitting up on his own yet! The pediatrician assured the concerned mom that babies just do things on their own time. Sure enough, the very next day, Charlie sat up all by himself.

Milestone guidelines are just that, and there's a wide range of "normal," says Becky Spritz, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. Concerned anyway? Here, answers to common questions:

Can I help my baby develop faster? "Coaching" occasionally works, but most babies just need time to figure things out for themselves. A baby is a lot more likely to roll over if he's trying to reach his teddy bear than if you're urging him to.

Is my baby less advanced than ones who do things sooner? Some babies acquire muscle control earlier than others, and some have very mellow personalities. It doesn't mean that one baby is smarter or more coordinated than the other.

Will my baby ever catch up? Yup. Most kids are pretty similar by age 3.

When should I worry? In most cases, your pediatrician will let you know if your baby falls significantly off the curve in a developmental area (say, by several months) and needs additional testing.