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Delayed Milestones in Babies

by Darlena Cunha

Not all children grow and develop at the same rate, and you're sure to hear plenty of anecdotes floating, like girls develop faster than boys. As a parent, though, you must decide empirically whether you feel that a milestone delay is within the normal range or something to be concerned about.

More Than Just Height and Weight

Major developmental milestones are reached at approximately two month intervals during the first year of your baby’s life. Some of those milestones include smiling at 2 months, reaching for toys at 4 months, rolling over in both directions at 6 months, sitting without support at 8 to 9 months and following simple directions like “Pick up your toy” at a year. A delay of approximately a month is no cause of concern and is considered to be within the normal range of development, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Delayed Due to Special Needs

If your baby is special needs -- born early, exposed to certain substances in-utero or has a congenital cognitive disorder -- milestone delays are to be expected. Speaking with your baby’s health care provider from the beginning will help you to understand what to expect and when to expect it. Milestone goals for special needs babies vary depending on their specific needs, so timelines vary from case to case, per the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Early Reasons to Be Concerned

There are certain warning signs that can indicate a cause for more serious concerns with your baby’s development. Not following objects with his eyes by 6 months, not turning to face the sound of strange or new noises by 6 months, not kicking his legs and grabbing with his hands by 3 months and not responding to his name by 1 year are all serious warning signs that these may be something more than just a growth differential, states the Easter Seals foundation.

What to Do if There Seems to Be a Delay in Milestones

If you feel like your baby has a genuine delay in milestones and meets “concern criteria,” the best thing to do is contact your healthcare provider immediately. The sooner that your baby is screened, the sooner help can be given, say experts at the CDC. There are developmental screening tests you can do at home to take to your child’s healthcare provider to assist in diagnosing a problem if there is one, found on the Easter Seals website.

About the Author

Darlena Cunha has been a writer and editor since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Connecticut. Cunha is also completing her master's degree in mass communication.

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