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As a parent, you probably have the tendency to compare your child to other children –cousins, brothers and sisters, playgroup or daycare kids. This is fine, as long as you keep two things in mind: 1) use corrected age at all times; and 2) compare with children of the same age group (plus or minus 3 months).

It’s important to be able to quickly recognize red flags – things that don’t look right or feel right and may suggest developmental delays or other issues. The faster a child gets the right attention – be it stimulation with physiotherapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy – the faster he’ll pick up the new skills he needs to interact, explore, and thrive.

Learn to recognize red flags

Here is a list of some of the red flags to look out for. If you notice worrisome behaviours that are repeated in different situations and don’t disappear over time, there may be cause for concern.

You will note that behaviours that are worrisome at one age are perfectly acceptable at another. Also remember that each child is different, and that behaviour is influenced by individual personality, physical attributes, experiences, family, and culture.

If you have any concerns whatsoever, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for a more complete evaluation by healthcare professionals.

Red flags to watch out for:

At 4 months

  • Doesn’t seem to respond to sounds or voices
  • Makes no sounds
  • Doesn’t look at moving objects
  • Doesn’t smile
  • Doesn’t hold head up when in sitting position
  • Doesn’t try to lift head when lying on tummy
  • Doesn’t open hands
  • Doesn’t try to bring toys to mouth

At 8 months

  • Can’t sit without support
  • Has trouble bearing weight on legs when held standing
  • Doesn’t roll from back to front
  • Uses or moves only one side of the body
  • Doesn’t try to grasp small objects with his fingers
  • Doesn’t transfer objects from hand to hand
  • Doesn’t turn around when called
  • Doesn’t babble, e.g. “baba”, “mama”, “dada”
  • Doesn’t express emotion, doesn’t laugh
  • Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar faces
  • Loses acquired skills

At 12 months

  • Doesn’t get into sitting position by himself
  • Doesn’t crawl
  • Doesn’t stand when supported
  • Doesn’t use fingers to grasp small objects
  • Doesn’t turn around when name is called
  • Doesn’t say any words, makes no gestures to communicate
  • Doesn’t point to things
  • Doesn’t try to find hidden object
  • Loses acquired skills

At 18 months

  • Doesn’t walk
  • Can’t put two blocks one on top of the other
  • Doesn’t point to objects he wants
  • Doesn’t have a 10-word vocabulary
  • Doesn’t seem to understand when spoken to
  • Doesn’t try to imitate
  • Doesn’t know what familiar objects are for (telephone, spoon)
  • Doesn’t seem to notice or mind when a parent leaves or comes back
  • Loses acquired skills

At 24 months

  • Falls often and seems clumsy
  • Doesn’t use 2-word phrases
  • Doesn’t understand simple commands
  • Doesn’t know how to use ordinary things like a hairbrush, telephone, fork
  • Doesn’t try to copy gestures and actions
  • Doesn’t play pretend games
  • Loses acquired skills

SteJustine-12dec2014-Montage-TROISIEME PASSE-ENFANT 5 MOIS STIMULATION36Each child is different and grows at his own pace. We are constantly amazed at the little advances the baby surprises us with each time he does something new.

However, it’s important to keep your eye out for red flags – things that are out of the ordinary and may point to a problem. Remember that the earlier things are picked up, the earlier the child can get the attention he needs – including the right stimulation and exercise activities – and the greater the chances that he’ll reach his full potential.

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