Becoming a parent can be one of the most exciting times in your life but it can also be one of the most confusing and uncertain times as well, especially if you are a first time parent! For those on their second or third child you at least have some idea of what to expect, although according to my mom, each child is different. For her I think this was a good thing because based on me as an infant I don’t think she would have chosen to have two more kids if she thought they were going to be exactly like me! (I’m not sure why, I swear I was an extremely laid back and easy going child!)
Anyway, there is a plethora of information out there on the developmental milestones and how they should progress but there is such a wide range its often hard to know if your child is behind and if they are, what are you supposed to do?
One of the first things would be to check with your pediatrician. If the pediatrician thinks your child has some delays or is at risk for delays they may give you a variety of options. One of those may be to check with a pediatric physical therapist who can do a more comprehensive evaluation of their gross motor development. Another option would be to look into early intervention.
Early intervention is provided by each state under the federal law IDEA Part C. It is run differently in each state and your child needs to qualify for its services. However they are a great resource for you and your family.
Sometimes it isn’t large delays but you have a child who just isn’t as motivated to move and is doing okay but lagging behind their peers. When this is the case it can be challenging. I hear more and more from families that their pediatricians tell them just to wait, they’ll catch up. Or they say, if they aren’t walking by a certain age then they’ll do something about it. I would like to challenge this theory and I’ll tell you why.
I understand that every child develops differently and that not all children crawl. However, if your child is still having difficulty rolling in all directions independently by time they are 6 months or older you might want to get a second opinion, other than that of the pediatrician. Even if they don’t know how to sit up independently and easily as they get close to a year you might start to question things. What you can do is find a local pediatric physical therapist and most times they will offer some type of consult. Pediatric physical therapists work with development in terms of movement all day long, every day. Pediatricians look at total health and wellness. A therapist can give you a better idea if your child may need a little extra boost to increase their independence with mobility. It doesn’t mean your child is delayed or has major problems. They just may need a little push to get past whatever milestone is creating a hurdle for them.
I am an advocate of this because I think that this young age is a period of exploration that is critical to their development. They begin to learn about how their bodies move and the world around them. If they aren’t freely moving or are being moved everywhere they miss out on these opportunities. Not to mention they can have difficulties with motor planning as they get older because they missed critical opportunities to figure out how to move their bodies.
All I am saying here is if you have any questions or concerns it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion from a pediatric physical therapist because they can sometimes show you a trick or two to use at home that makes all the difference in the world!