Developmental Delays in Babies and Toddlers

There is a wide range as to what is normal in developmental milestones. Some babies develop faster than others while some take their time reaching certain goals. While we all want our children to succeed in everything from early on, each baby hits their developmental achievements at their own pace. You should never try to rush a child into something they aren’t ready for. Likewise, developmental delays could be an indication of a more serious problem which is why it is important to always address concerns with your pediatrician.

baby

Hopefully I didn’t just confuse you in the previous statement. It can be tough knowing what your baby should be doing at what stages and gauging what is normal. I’ve addressed certain milestones parents can expect at each month of their baby’s first year under Learning and Development, but here I’ll go further into what is a normal range and ways to encourage your little one if you find they’re moving along a tad slower than they should. You may be surprised to learn how large the age range can be for certain skills.

Crawling

crawlingBetween 7 to 10 months is typical although some babies begin crawling as early as 6 months while others skip it altogether. Every baby has their own way of getting around. Some babies crawl, others scoot around. My two children were very different in how they approached this milestone. My daughter would scoot everywhere on her back for the longest time and stayed with a bald spot on the back of her head as a result. My son, on the other hand, would pretty much roll around to get where he wanted and at one point I thought he would never learn to crawl and just go straight to walking. Both of these actions were completely normal and they both did eventually learn how to crawl properly.

Your baby may show signs that they are ready to crawl if they:

  • Sits up unassisted
  • Can lift stomach off the floor
  • Rocks while on hands and knees

If your baby doesn’t appear to take to crawling, don’t worry. It is not unusual for a baby to just skip this milestone and go straight to walking. In fact, 5-7 percent of babies do not crawl at all. Most babies do make some attempt to move around to get where they want to go. You can encourage them by placing toys or objects in front of them to go after.

Cause for concern: By this time your baby should be able to bear weight on their legs and feet when held upright in a standing position. If you notice your baby won’t ‘stand’ while holding them up it could be a sign of a serious medical condition. Consult with your pediatrician if you notice this as well as other red flags such as not wiggling their toes or legs.

cruisingCruising

Typically between 8 to 11 monthsBabies will begin to start pulling themselves up on things like furniture or even you once they begin getting stronger and shortly after they begin cruising. Your baby will start becoming more dependent as they learn how to get from point A to point B with the support of holding on to something which sets the tone for them to soon master the art of walking. Signs that may signify they’re ready to start cruising include:

  • Able to roll around
  • Scoots or crawls
  • Pulls up to standing

You can encourage your baby to pull up by placing a toy or a treat on a table or chair that is suitable for their height. Allow them ample time to roam around the floor freely. Just make sure you’ve taken the proper baby-proofing measures and that there’s nothing small on the floor or within reach that they can put in their mouths. Once they learn how to cruise they may continue cruising for several weeks or even months before actually walking.

Cause for concern: Signs that your baby could have a serious condition are if they are not cruising effectively by 15 months include if the feet are turned inward and rigid or they won’t put their foot down flat on the floor.

Walking

walkingBetween 9 and 18 months. That’s a big range but it is common that most babies have taken their first step by the time they make their first year. Once they learn how to walk, that’s it! They’re off and running a muck of the house. This is a common milestone parents often fret about and compare with other kids. Your baby will begin showing signs they may be ready to walk when they can do the following:

  • Cruise
  • Able to climb steps and/or stairs with hands and feet
  • Balance

There are many different ways to encourage a baby to learn how to walk including: walking with baby while holding their hands; while standing move away from them with a toy and try to encourage them to walk towards you to reach it. Also limit the amount of time spent in playpens, jumpers, and walkers as prolonged amount of time in these could further delay walking.

Cause for concern: If your baby is still nowhere near walking after 15 months or they haven’t mastered the skill of gravity and fall often then you should definitely consult with a physician to make sure there is no underlying issue that could be more serious.

Social Development

talkingDevelopmental delays in social skills could indicate serious health conditions that, if caught early on, could be treated. Social development includes skills such as smiling, cooing, and talking which occur at different stages. There are ways you can encourage these actions while connecting with your baby for that special one on one bonding.

Smiling – This may be hard to pinpoint as newborns often give ‘false smiles’ when they are gassy during the first few weeks. You can expect their first genuine smile at around 2-3 months.
Cooing– Those heart warming little sounds that babies make are usually present by 2 to 3 months and may be soon accompanied by laughing.
Talking – While it may be awhile before you’ll have actual conversations with your child, most babies will say their first word(s) between 11 to 14 months.

The key to babies achieving social developmental skills is by imitation. You can help encourage these milestones simply by smiling and talking to your baby. Encourage speaking by saying actions such as ‘up’ when you pick them up and naming things like ‘milk’ when giving them to help your little one learn about different things, what they are, and to let you know what they want.

Cause for concern: your pediatrician will likely ask you around 2 months if your baby has started smiling. It’s not uncommon for fussy or colicky babies to not give a smile too often, but if by 4 months you still haven’t caught a grin bring it up to the doctor. In toddlers, if by the age of 2 they aren’t communicating using 2-word sentences or you constantly don’t understand what they are trying to say, there may be a need for speech therapy.

So you can see that babies can have a wide range for what’s normal in certain areas of development. Developmental delays can be caused by a number of factors and may or may not indicate an underlying medical condition; therefore it’s always important to consult with your doctor regarding any concerns you might have or questions regarding your baby’s health and development.
*We are not medical professionals. The information provided in this article is simply a reference to help provide parents with tips and suggestions and should never take the place of seeking professional advice from a physician. This information has been brought to you by the following references:

http://www.babycenter.com/0_could-my-child-have-a-developmental-delay_6751.bc

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/recognizing-developmental-delays-birth-age-2

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