When we think about physical and emotional delays in young children, we may not realize just how common they are. But when detected early, it is much easier to lessen the impact of a child’s delays than when detected or addressed later on.
If you’ve noticed at your child’s various well visits, his or her pediatrician will ask you a series of questions about their development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following standard benchmarks at 9-, 18-, and 30-month checkup visits, and pediatricians will screen for these at each visit to determine if there is a delay, possibly recommending early intervention services if needed:
- 9-month visit: The infant should roll to both sides, sit well without support, and demonstrate motor symmetry without established handedness. He or she should be grasping and transferring objects hand to hand.
- 18-month visit: The toddler should sit, stand, and walk independently. He or she should grasp and manipulate small objects. Mild motor delays undetected at the 9-month screening visit may be apparent at 18 months.
- 30-month visit: Most motor delays will have already been identified during previous visits. However, more subtle gross motor, fine motor, speech, and oral motor impairments may emerge at this visit. Progressive neuromuscular disorders may begin to emerge at this time and manifest as a loss of previously attained gross or fine motor skills.
When we found out our son’s motor development might be delayed, we were of course concerned, as is only natural for any parent who loves their child. Thankfully, our area provides free early intervention services for those who qualify (check with your local county’s public school system or state’s department of health and human services to see if yours does- each county and/or state has a different program and eligibility requirements), and because of that, Baby was assessed and qualified for physical therapy through the county. He is now well on his way to reach his milestones in motor skill development – albeit a bit late – meaning he’ll be able to participate in all of the age-appropriate activities his peers can very soon. Of course, every case is different, but there is no doubt that the earlier a delay is caught, the more prepared a child’s parents will be to address it, however that may be.
Because I had never faced this before, I had no idea what items I should be presenting to Baby at 6 months to help him crawl, or at 12 months to support his walking. Now at around 18 months, here are some of the developmental toys that have been so critical in getting him moving and strengthening his little muscles:
- The Baby Einstein Rhythm of The Reef Activity Saucer– While there are valid concerns about leaving your child in exersaucers too long that it can impact their hips, etc., if you’re only using this 20 minutes a day or so (not sure on the exact recommendation) it is a great way to build the muscles they’ll need to start crawling. We started using one when Baby was around 5 or 6 months.
2. Chicco Baby Jogging– This walker is great for motivating Baby to keep on walking once she’s able to take those first few steps. It’s also great for strengthening and working her hip muscles which she’ll need strong to walk on her own. It plays music as it moves forward, motivating Baby to keep going. Ours only started using it around 12-15 mos, but I have seen some use it much sooner. It’s a bit flimsy, so make sure to watch Baby as she goes!
3. Fisher-Price Little People Music Parade Ride-On– My love for Little People toys knows no end (but I’ll talk about that in another post). This push-car has been great for Baby to push around, and helps work on his balance. While he’s still hesitant to get on it when we ask him to, he does great pushing it along with his feet when he thinks we’re not looking! Ohhhh, the joy of toddlerhood…
These are just a few of the items that have helped us address our Baby’s motor delays. For any parent out there worried about their own Baby, remember that there are so many resources nowadays for help with addressing possible developmental delays. Ask for help.
NOTE: I am not a health care professional. I am basing these thoughts and suggestions on our own experience and research. I highly recommend speaking to your child’s physician to express any concerns you may have.