Is my child on track

Is my child on track?

By: Jason Haug, Program and Project Management Officer

Parents love to talk about their child's milestones . Ever notice all the postings on Facebook about kids? You might see statements like "Oh my son just said his first word!"; "My daughter is crawling now... getting into all sorts of trouble," or "My baby is learning how to share so well!"

When you see what other children around your child's age are up to, you might ask yourself: "Is my child on track? Should they be walking now? When will they learn to share?"

Luckily there are screening tools available that can help you find out if your child is developing normally. The Nippissing District Developmental Screen and the NutriSTEP® nutritional screen will give you more information about your child's development. Early identification and follow-up of potential problems are an important way to ensure your child is on track. In Ottawa, 25% of senior kindergarten students are considered vulnerable for school readiness.

The Nippissing District Development Screen (NDDS)

The (NDDS) is a free and easy-to-use checklist for parents and caregivers of children aged 1 month to 6 years. It is available in 5 different languages, including English, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish. The screening tool gives parents a better understanding of your child's development in 8 key areas:

  • Emotional
  • Fine Motor (skills including use of hands and fingers - for example, drawing)
  • Gross Motor (skills including use of legs and arms - for exmaple, running)
  • Social
  • Self-Help
  • Communication
  • Learning and Thinking
  • Vision and Hearing

This tool is used to identify potential problems that should be referred to your family doctor or a public health nurse. It does not diagnose medical issues or developmental delays. Sometimes parents just need some tips or activities that will help their child reach their milestones.

The NDDS includes a list of activities to help your child learn new skills. Some examples of this include:

  • 1 & 2 months communication activity: "Talk, sing lullabies, say rhymes, or make up songs so I can listen to the sound of your voice. Change your voice; I may like a high or low pitch."
  • 4 month fine motor activity: "I like it when you move my hands in front of my face so I can see them. Clap my hands together and play Pat-a-cake."
  • 6 month gross motor activity: "Place me on my tummy and use a toy to encourage me to push up on my hands and try to reach up."
  • 12 months emotional activity: "When I am upset, comfort and soothe me. Hold me close, hug me, and make me feel safe and secure. Teach me about my feelings by naming them."
  • 2 years learning and thinking: "I like to play sorting games with you. We can sort objects by shape, touch, colour, and size. Use spoons, blocks, toys and clothing."

A great feature of the NDDS is that you can sign up to get e-mail alerts at key periods of development. Find out more about this tool at . 

What is NutriSTEP®?

NutriSTEP® is a free screening tool that gives parents and caregivers a better understanding of your child's eating habits and physical activity level. There are two versions: one for toddlers (18 months-35 months) and one for preschoolers (3-5 years). It takes only a few minutes to complete

When you take the NutriSTEP® questionnaire, you will get suggestions and ideas about feeding your child and helping them to be active. The tool is available in 8 languages: English, French, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil, and Vietnamese

This tool is very important for your child, as it also talks about what eating habits are established at an early age. Children's food choices affect their growth and development, and can have long term affects such as malnutrition, obesity, behavioural difficulties, and problems with academic performance.

There are a few ways that you can complete the NutriSTEP® questionnaire:

By Phone : Complete the NutriSTEP® by telephone with the help of health care providers

  • Contact Ottawa Ottawa Public Health Information Line: 613-580-6744 and speak with a Public Health Nurse
  • Contact Eat Right Ontario 1-877-510-510-2 and speak with a Registered Dietitian

In person: Attend a local screening clinic to meet with a public health nurse.

Online: Complete the form online and get immediate personalized feedback

Mail: Contact Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744 and ask to receive a free copy of the NutriSTEP® questionnaire to complete at home.

Do you have more questions?

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