Warning Signs of a Physical Developmental Delay in Your Baby (Newborn to 5 Years)

Published in My Little Moppet
2 months ago   by Fabida Abdulla

Every baby develops differently but it helps to watch out for these Warning Signs of a Physical Developmental Delay in Your Baby so you can act early.

Every parent longs for the day when their little one takes their first step, or says ‘Mama’ for the first time. There’s something magical about hitting milestones – it shows your baby is growing into his or her own person, and is developing normally. That’s why hitting every milestone gives a parent so much joy, but the opposite is also true. Few things can stress a parent out like their baby not reaching their developmental milestones on time.

Generally speaking, babies’ physical development proceeds from top to bottom, in this manner: Head and neck control->Control on hands and upper body->Control of the feet and legs->Control of the bladder and bowel. Following this pattern, babies roll over first, then sit, then pull themselves up with support, stand without support, walk with support and then without support.

Yet, this is a very generalized pattern, and many babies deviate from it. Some babies may skip a milestone, or some may mix up the order. The time at which each milestone has to be achieved is also quite broad, and babies can reach their milestone anywhere within that time frame. Every baby is different, and it makes no sense to compare any two babies – not even siblings.

That said, it’s important to be aware of developmental delays. Physical developmental delays are also referred to as early motor delays, and they occur when a child shows a significant delay in achieving a certain milestone during the first few years. Knowing which delays to watch out for can keep parents alert in case of a serious delay, so that it can get medical attention immediately. The earlier developmental delays are tackled, the better the chances of recovery so the baby can catch up with his or her peers.

Here is a complete list of warning signs of a physical developmental delay in babies, sorted by age. If your child shows any of these signs, it’s recommended to have a consultation with your child’s doctor.

Warning Signs of a Physical Developmental Delay 0-2 Months 3-4 Months 5-6 Months 7-9 Months 10-12 Months 13-18 Months 19-24 Months 25-36 Months 3-4 Years 4-5 Years

Besides these, here are a few general signs of a physical developmental delay:

To know how your child is doing, you can check out a physical developmental delay tracker created by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

There are many reasons children can have a physical developmental delay. One reason is prematurity – children who are born premature reach their milestones later than full term children born on the same day. They may also show delayed muscle development compared to others. Other underlying medical conditions that can affect physical development are ataxia, myopathy or cognitive delays. It is important to see your child’s doctor at the earliest to rule out any of these conditions.

In the mean time, you can encourage your baby at home with a few simple tips. Use brightly colored toys to catch her attention. Get moving toys with wheels that will encourage the baby to move towards it. Prop baby up with pillows or a baby chair. Make sure baby gets enough tummy time and floor time, as well as time walking bare foot. Massage baby regularly to stimulate her muscles.

Most importantly, trust your instincts and don’t let the stress get to you. With early detection and proper management, most of these physical developmental delays can be overcome and your baby can lead a full, healthy life like everyone else.


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