The vast majority of baby growth develops naturally and according to a normal pattern of development with apparent ease and no problems. Provided that you took care of your body and avoided drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes during your pregnancy, this will likely be true of your baby as well. Unfortunately, there are some babies who, for whatever reason, fail to thrive or acquire the physical, cognitive, language, and social/emotional skills that they need to grow and develop properly. The possibility, however small, that your little one may experience a developmental delay is a scary prospect, and although you may not want to think about it, it’s important to monitor your child’s development carefully and report any concerns to your pediatrician right away. Although your worries are likely to be unwarranted, it’s always better to be safe than sorry as children with developmental problems usually do better when they receive treatment and interventions as early as possible.
Since babies are unable to communicate with language during their first year, it’s almost impossible to make a firm diagnosis of a developmental delay at this early stage. However, there are some signs of a possible delay which you should report to your doctor immediately. Although he may be unable to make a definitive decision regarding your child’s development, he can form a plan for continued observation or refer your child to a specialist. Generally speaking, if your baby fails to babble or coo, make eye contact, or respond to voices or loud noises by three months, an underlying problem may exist that is preventing her from developing at a normal rate. If you observe these warning signs in your baby, don’t panic, but do consult with your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
After your baby’s first birthday, his development will begin progressing more rapidly, and any developmental delays will become more apparent. This is the time in a child’s growth when walking and talking become new possibilities. Most children are enthusiastic about these new prospects and experiment with their newfound abilities without any prompting from their parents, while others require a gentle nudge in the right direction. If your child shows no interest in these activities and doesn’t respond to your encouragement, there may be reason for concern. If by the age of 15 months, your child is not making attempts to walk or talk, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Additionally, if by the age of two, your little one is walking or tiptoes or with an abnormal gait, or is not yet forming two-word sentences, then a call to your pediatrician is advised.
Although you may be unable to prevent a developmental delay despite your best efforts to nurture your child, there are some things you can do to encourage her growth in each developmental area. Overall, it is important to attend to your child’s needs consistently, provide her with a clean and safe environment, and promote her natural curiosities and her tendency to engage in interactive play and explore the world around her!