Baby Development Problems
Even though most babies develop healthily and at their own pace, it's quite normal for parents to worry from time to time about their baby's acquisition of mental and physical skills. When a baby is slow to develop and does not exhibit a certain skill around the time expected by pediatricians, he or she is said to have a "developmental delay." Developmental delays may be an early sign of something serious but more often than not they correct themselves naturally with time. For example, a baby that doesn't make much verbal noise might already be crawling all over the house, but his powers of speech will develop only later on. If you think your baby might have a developmental delay, you should read this article and also check out our section on baby development worries for some advice on what to do. Remember, the chances of your baby having a serious problem are low. One survey in the United States found that only nine percent of babies under three years old are developmentally delayed.
Types Of Delay
Babies can be slow to develop in one or more of several areas. To get an idea of what is considered normal, you should consult our baby development chart, which will tell you the average age at which babies begin to develop certain skills. Baby development can be divided into four subcategories: social skills, language and communication skills, large motor (physical) skills and small motor skills.
1. Social skills - if a baby is slow to respond to the faces of the adults with whom he or she comes into contact, this could be a sign of a delay in social development. Smiling, gurgling and laughing are examples of the type of response to expect.
2. Language and communication - with a young baby, you should be on the look out for receptive language skills. For example, your average five-month old baby will be able to respond to his or her own name. Any delays in this area could be a sign of a problem with vision or hearing, or emotional development.
3. Large motor skills - these are the bigger physical skills such as your baby lifting his head, sitting up, rolling over and walking.
4. Small motor skills - these include your baby's hand-eye coordination skills, such as reaching and grasping objects. Any delay in developing motor skills, large or small, could indicate a physical problem.
When To Act Immediately
It's important to trust your parental instincts and if you think there is a problem, make an appointment to see your pediatrician. However, in some situations, you might have to act more quickly. If your baby is doing any of the following, don't wait for an appointment, seek medical help right away.
- Showing a total lack of energy or impaired consciousness
- Is unable to lift his head after previously being able to do so
- Not responding to sight or sound
- Refusing to feed
- Has diarrhea
- Is not urinating
- Is vomiting heavily (more than the typical baby spit-up)
- Has changes in his complexion (for example, is pale or blue)
- Has a fever
- Is breathing irregularly
All of these are possible symptoms of a more serious illness which needs to be treated immediately.