Developmental Delays – What You Should Know

We are constantly hearing more about developmental delays in our society. Whether this is because more awareness is being brought to the topic or because there are more cases of individuals with developmental delays, you should know what exactly a developmental delay is and what potential signs are.

Before reading further, acknowledge that all children are different and develop at their own pace. Keep in mind that sometimes drawing attention to a newly developed behavior can make it worse. When the pace of a child’s development or their behavior becomes outside of the norm, it may be a good idea to seek a second opinion from your pediatrician or other trusted health professional.

The term “developmental delay” serves as an umbrella for many different conditions. Types of developmental delays along with potential signs are as follows:

Speech, Language, and Hearing

Into the first few months of a child’s life, you should begin to see their personality blossom through expression by making noises or by reacting to the noises that surround them.

  • By 4 months, your child should display a response to loud noises, be babbling, and begin attempting to mimic sounds. Read this article for more information about babbling.
  • By 7 months, your child should display a response to sounds around them in daily life.
  • By 1 year, your child should begin to say their first word. Of course, these are single words like “mama” or “dada.”
  • By 2 years, your child should have a vocabulary of at least 15 words and begin saying two-word phrases.

 Vision

Being able to see faces and objects is important to a child’s development. If signs of vision delays are present, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a child can establish a foundation for learning through seeing shapes and letters, for example.

  • By 3 months, your child should notice hands, follow objects with their eyes, be able to move both of their eyes in all directions, and should not be crossing their eyes frequently.
  • By 6 months, you should not frequently see one or both of your child’s eyes turning in (or out), they should have recurring eye drainage. They should be following objects that are both close and far away (6 feet) with both of their eyes.

Movement

Delays in movement are known as motor skill delays and include both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills refer to small movements such as using a pencil, pressing buttons on toys, or picking up blocks. Gross motor skills refer to movements on a larger scale such as rolling over, sitting, or walking.

  • By around 4 months, a child should be reaching for and grasping objects, bringing objects to their mouth, supporting their own head, start beginning to roll over, and should press into their feet when placed in a standing-up position on a hard surface.
  • By 7 months, your child should be putting objects into their mouth, be able to roll over in both directions, and sit up independently.
  • By 1 year, a child should be able to crawl and stand with support.
  • By 2 years, children are typically able to walk and should be walking in a heel-to-toe order.

Emotional/social

Establishing a secure attachment with their caregiver is a crucial component to a child’s development. If any of the following signs are not present, contact your doctor.

  • By 3 months, your child should smile at others and acknowledge new faces without displaying emotions of fear.
  • By 7 months, your child should desire closeness with caregivers and show affection. It is a warning sign if they’re unable to be soothed during the night, if they do not smile or laugh, and if they are not responsive to a game of “peek-a-boo.”
  • By 1 year, children should exchange gestures with others such as smiling and waving.

Cognitive

Cognitive delays can often surface through play with a child and are often associated with other developmental delays; for example, a child who does not press a button on a toy could be evaluated for both cognitive and motor delays.

  • By 1 year, a child should look for an item that he/she knows is hidden and should point to pictures and objects.
  • By 2 years, a child should understand basic functions of simple objects like cups and utensils and should understand simple directions.

To Conclude

During the early years of their life, when children are unable to advocate for themselves, their circumstances are chosen for them. Be aware of typical patterns of development and seek help if warning signs are present so that children have every opportunity to grow healthily into their next stage.

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