Developmental Delay

Developmental delay is when your child does not meet their developmental milestones in the usual time period.  Developmental milestones are basically an outline of what skills your child should develop in different time frames. Although to be honest we do not all develop at the same time or rate, that is why we have the outline to help guide us of where your child should be. For example 2 children are born on the same day but one develops a skill months before the other child, are both children on schedule with their development? Yes both children are right on schedule with their development, sometimes your child may need a little more time. Children who are said to have developmental delays do develop slower than other children in one or most areas of development.

Developmental delay can be seen in the following areas;

            Gross motor skills (walking, kicking, sitting upright, riding a tricycle and lifting)
            Fine motor skills (writing, getting dressed, grabbing small toys/objects)
            Cognitive development (remembering, problem solving, decision-making, thought processing)
            Social-Emotional development (learning to interact with others, understanding & controlling emotions)
            Language Development (understanding and communicating language through repeating)

It is also important to know that Global Developmental Delay is when a child has delays in all areas.

We usually see more developmental delays in preschool children, between the ages of birth and 6 years old. Developmental delays are normally seen in males, and about 8% of all preschool children have a developmental delay. Although, if your child has been diagnosed with a mental retardation then your child does not have a developmental delay but a lasting limitation on their development in one or more areas.

In the beginning it is hard to determine if the delay the child has will be permanent (eventually know as a disability) or if the child will catch up or fully catch up. But if you have any concerns about your child’s development please talk to your doctor/paediatrician.

There is no exact cause of development delays but there are potential causes that bring about developmental delays. Some potential causes could be;

            Genetic and/or chromosomal abnormality like Down syndrome, which does causes some delays
            Drinking alcohol during the pregnancy can also cause some delays
            Maybe if the baby was born premature
            Infections that baby may get during pregnancy or at birth

A baby can be at risk if the mother;

            Is younger than 18 or older than 35 when giving birth
            Starting prenatal care late in the pregnancy
            Smoking, drugs, alcohol
            Unhealthy eating habits
            Problems during labour or at birth
            Giving birth to multiple babies

These potential causes can increase the risk of the baby/child having developmental delays. Therefore some babies at risk of delays maybe followed up on to make sure that they are in track with their development. This would also assist with early intervention, to get the baby/child some services to help them reach their developmental milestones.

The doctor is the one that makes the diagnosis when it comes to developmental delays, although it is good to know that it is mostly parents that voice their concerns about their child to the doctor. So it is very important to talk to your doctor when you have any concerns or questions about your child’s development.

Some signs or symptoms of delays could be (remember this is just a general guideline, plus sometimes your child may need just a little more time and they will catch up);

            At 4 months the baby cannot bring their hands together
            At 6 months, not rolling over
            At 8 months, not able to sit by themselves without support
            At 12 months, not crawling
            At 15 months, not walking
            A child who hasn’t began speaking words and/or forming a sentence by the age of 3
            A toddler may not take risks or not feel the need to explore their surroundings
            A toddler may not go through the “terrible twos” but may go through it during preschool

For more information about sign and symptoms you can check out the “Child development Milestone Chart” at the chart starts from birth up to age 6.

A developmental evaluation is the only thing that can figure out your child’s strengths and weaknesses. The developmental evaluation would be done by a highly trained developmental professional. The evaluation looks at all areas of development, which will then determine if and what kind of care/treatment plan your child would need to reach their developmental goals. Sometimes your child may need early intervention; here are some services that may benefit your child with developmental delays;

            Hearing services
            Speech and/or language therapy
            Training for parents and family members 
            Medical services
            Help with nutrition
            Occupational therapy
            Physical therapy

The doctor/paediatrician would refer you to the services that would benefit your child most. The best way to prevent any developmental delays is through planning the pregnancy and regular prenatal care throughout the pregnancy from beginning to end. Be sure to also get regular checkups for your baby after the baby is born and that all immunizations are up to date. Please remember if you have any concerns at all about your child’s development, go to the clinic and tell the nurse and/or doctor about your concerns.


“Child Development Milestones from Birth to Six”, Child Development Guide    (15 Dec, 2010)

“Developmental Delay”, University of Michigan Health System   (15 Dec, 2010)

“Developmental Delay”, National Dissemination Centre for Children with Disabilities         (15 Dec, 2010)

“Development Delay”, Encyclopaedia of Children’s Health                   (15 Dec, 2010) 

“Developmental Delays”,      (15 Dec, 2010) 

“Developmental Delay”,                             (15 Dec, 2010)

“What is developmental delay”?, How kids develop                               (15 Dec, 2010)





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