Spotting Developmental Delays
Charting milestones is normal, but if you're worried that your child has physical, social or communication developmental delays.
Some of the biggest worries for new parents are baby development delays. Often parents will watch carefully, keeping one eye on their child and the other on a chart of average developmental milestones. Too much of this type of worrying can drive you crazy, especially since every baby is different and those charts are only rough averages. However, if you do have a persistent feeling that something is wrong, never hesitate to bring the subject up with your GP or public health nurse.
If you’re like most parents, you’ve probably got at least one comprehensive listing of average developmental milestones. In order to keep a close eye on your child’s development without driving yourself crazy, remember that each baby is an individual. If you notice that your child is two months or more behind on physical developments, such as learning to crawl or stand, then a quick chat with your GP or public health nurse is a good idea. If you notice anything which looks different, such as a lopsided style of moving or inability to sustain weight on one side, an immediate doctor appointment is warranted. Hearing, sight and growth issues are common baby development delays. While growth charts are a great way to see if your child is developing at a normal rate, hearing and vision issues are much harder to spot on your own. Every time your child sees the doctor or public health nurse for an assessment or weigh in, ask for hearing and vision tests if they aren’t automatically given.
As a parent, you naturally want to interact with your child as much as possible. A baby development delay can make this very frustrating. As with physical delays, obtain a reliable chart which shows average ages for certain actions, and consult your doctor if you think your child is more than two months behind. Some common examples of a communication delay include a baby who is not laughing by six months, not waving goodbye by twelve months, or not imitating and mimicking others by 24 months.
Baby development delays which have to do with social interaction are very similar to communication delays. By 18 months, a child should be showing an interest in a wide variety of toys. By 24 months, a child engaged in playtime with other children or caregivers will usually interact extensively by sharing toys and talking. By 36 months, a child typically can become engaged in one activity for at least ten minutes. This is, of course, not a complete list. However, if you notice that your child has fallen short of these developmental milestones, consult your GP.
If your baby was born prematurely, you were probably advised that baby development delays could very well be a part of life for your child. In fact, many experts believe that a premature baby can be considered right on schedule if they are a few weeks to a few months behind the developmental charts designed for full-term babies.
Regardless of what the charts say, a parent’s instinct is often the best and first indication that something is wrong. Don’t be overly worried or obsessive, but don’t be afraid to stand up for your child and insist on testing if you truly believe that baby development delays are an issue.