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What Are the Signs of Developmental Delay in a Baby?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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There are several different signs that a developmental delay in a baby may be present. Although it is important to avoid comparing one baby to another in most respects, it is sometimes helpful to look at the developmental skills of the child in question against what is typically viewed as normal for a particular age group. Delays in milestones such as crawling or walking may indicate a developmental delay in a baby. Stubbornness, stiff limbs, or an inability to communicate with facial movements or sounds may suggest the possibility of a developmental delay. Any specific questions or concerns about a possible developmental delay in a baby should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

By the age of two months, most babies are able to hold their heads up on their own when being held and may smile when hearing a familiar voice. A child of this age normally begins to visually focus on nearby objects. An absence of these abilities may cause concern that a developmental delay in a baby may be an issue, although many doctors are hesitant to diagnose these delays so early in life.

In many cases, a possible developmental delay in a baby becomes most noticeable between the ages of three and six months. By six months of age, most babies are able to sit without assistance and will reach out to grab a desired object, such as a favorite toy. Babies with normal developmental skills will look around to find the source of sounds and may begin to babble.

A baby who cannot sit without assistance by the age of eight months or who has not begun to crawl by a year old may have one or more developmental delays. Most babies are able to speak a few simple words by one year of age and the pincer grasp has usually developed. This involves the use of the thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects.

Extreme anger or stubbornness may sometimes indicate the presence of a developmental delay in a baby. If the arms or legs appear to be stiff or if the child seems to favor one side of the body over another, developmental issues may be considered as the cause. Visual delays may cause the child to constantly rub the eyes or struggle to focus on objects. Hearing delays may be an issue if the child's voice seems to consistently be either much too loud or so quiet that it is almost inaudible.

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