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Early Intervention

The early years matter

Your child's first three years of life are incredible! Brain development is happening every day. This means it is the time when intervention can make the biggest difference if something isn't developing as it should. 

The Child Development Center partners with the State of Montana to provide Montana Milestones/Part C Early Intervention in western MT.

What is ‘Early Intervention’?

Montana Milestones Early Intervention provides services for infants and toddlers who need extra support to learn important skills typically gained in the first three years of life. Also known nationally as Part C, an early intervention program is offered free of charge in every U.S. state.

To find out how Early Intervention is funded in Montana, go to Montana's Part C System of Payments Policy.

I have questions about my infant or toddler’s development – what should I do?

If you have any questions about how your little one is learning, acting or growing, we are here to help! Even if you are unsure about your concerns, there is no reason to wait and see.

You can contact the Child Development Center team near you to ask questions or share your concerns. Or, if you are ready to explore your questions further, you can make a referral. Making a referral is a simple way to give us information about your child. After you make a referral, we can begin working together to find out if Early Intervention could help.

Every child is unique, but this *checklist may help you monitor typical milestones of healthy infant and toddler development.
*This resource should not replace a professional evaluation.

Will my child qualify for Early Intervention?

Early Intervention is for families with infants or toddlers up to the age of three. There are two ways a child can qualify for Early Intervention:

  • Your child shows possible delays in one or more areas of development.
  • Your child has an established condition with a high probability for developmental delays, such as premature birth or a genetic disorder.

To find out for sure if your baby or toddler will qualify, start by making a referral. A referral gives us the basic information we need to begin working together.

How will Early Intervention help my child?

As a parent, you know your baby best. As child development experts, we know you are your child’s best teacher. This is why our services focus on giving you the tools to support your little one’s needs.

We'll get started by working with your family to make a plan, called an Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP). The goals of the plan are based on your child’s developmental needs, and designed to fit in with your family’s everyday routines. We might work on communication, self-help skills (washing, eating, dressing, etc.) behavior and other areas. In some cases, extra support such as speech or physical therapy might be part of the plan. If so, Early Intervention will cover the cost of consultative therapy sessions.

One of our certified Family Support Specialists will meet with you two to four times per month to work on the goals set by your family. We can meet in the convenience of your home or at another location in the community.

You might wonder how you'll know whether services are actually meeting your child's need and making progress on their goals. Goals are also called "child outcomes." This guide explains the child outcomes measurement process, and how you can participate. In addition, the State of Montana reviews aspects of our agency's performance every year. You can see the annual Part C Performance Reports here.

Following your lead, we will partner with your family to give your child a strong start for a bright future!

Want to learn more? Send a message to our MT Milestones Early Intervention team or call us at one of our two locations in western Montana.

Important Milestones by the CDC:

By 2 Months

Social/Emotional Milestones

  • Calms down when spoken to or picked up
  • Looks at your face
  • Seems happy to see you when you walk up to them
  • Smiles when you talk to or smile at them

Language/Communication Milestones

  • Makes sounds other than crying
  • Reacts to loud sounds

Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Watches you as you move
  • Looks at a toy for several seconds

Movement/Physical Development Milestones

  • Holds head up when on tummy
  • Moves both arms and both legs
  • Opens hands briefly

4 months

Social/Emotional Milestones

  • Smiles on his own to get your attention
  • Chuckles (not yet a full laugh) when you try to make them laugh
  • Looks at you, moves, or makes sounds to get or keep your attention

Language/Communication Milestones

  • Makes sounds like “oooo”, “aahh” (cooing)
  • Makes sounds back when you talk to them
  • Turns head towards the sound of your voice

Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving

  • If hungry, opens mouth when they see bottle
  • Looks at their hands with interest

Movement/Physical Development Milestones

  • Holds head steady without support when you are holding them
  • Holds a toy when you put it in their hand
  • Uses their arm to swing at toys
  • Brings hands to mouth
  • Pushes up onto elbows/forearms when on tummy

6 months

Social/Emotional Milestones

  • Knows familiar people
  • Likes to look at self in a mirror
  • Laughs

Language/Communication Milestones

  • Takes turns making sounds with you
  • Blows “raspberries” (sticks tongue out and blows)
  • Makes squealing noises

Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Puts things in their mouth to explore
  • Reaches to grab a toy they want
  • Closes lips to show they don't want more food

Movement/Physical Development Milestones

  • Rolls from tummy to back
  • Pushes up with straight arms when on tummy
  • Leans on hands to support when sitting

9 months

Social/Emotional Milestones

  • Is shy, clingy, or fearful around strangers
  • Shows several facial expressions, like happy, sad, angry, and surprised
  • Looks when you call their name
  • Reacts when you leave (looks, reaches for you, or cries)
  • Smiles or laughs when you play peek-a-boo

Language/Communication Milestones

  • Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa”
  • Lifts arms up to be picked up

Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Looks for objects when dropped out of sight (like spoon or toy)
  • Bangs two things together

Movement/Physical Development Milestones

  • Gets into a sitting position on their own
  • Moves things from one hand to their other hand
  • Uses fingers to “rake” food
  • Sits without support

1 year

Social/Emotional Milestones

  • Plays games with you, like pat-a-cake

Language/Communication Milestones

  • Waves “bye-bye”
  • Calls a parent “mama” or “dada” or another special name
  • Understands “no” (pauses briefly or stops when you say it)

Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Puts something in a container, like a block in a cup
  • Looks for things they see you hide, like a toy under a blanket

Movement/Physical Development Milestones

  • Pulls up to stand
  • Walks, holding on to furniture
  • Drinks from a cup without a lid, as you hold it
  • Picks things up between thumb and pointer finger, like small bits of food

18 months

Social/Emotional Milestones

  • Moves away from you, but looks to make sure you are close by
  • Points to show you something interesting
  • Puts hands out for you to wash them
  • Looks at a few pages in a book with you
  • Helps you dress them by pushing arm through sleeve or lifting up foot

Language/Communication Milestones

  • Tries to say three or more words besides “mama” or “dada”
  • Follows one-step directions without any gestures, like giving you the toy when you say, “Give it to me.”

Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Copies you doing chores, like sweeping with a broom
  • Plays with toys in a simple way, like pushing a toy car

Movement/Physical Development Milestones

  • Walks without holding on to anyone or anything
  • Scribbles
  • Drinks from a cup without a lid and may spill sometimes
  • Feed themselves with their fingers
  • Tries to use a spoon
  • Climbs on and off a couch or chair without help