Recognizing early warning signs for childhood problems can improve your child's chances for a joyful and independent future.
Your child's pediatrician or health care provider should be a great source of information and advice. Make a list before your appointment if you're afraid you will forget to ask about something. Do not hesitate to ask for advice about any unusual behaviors, possible physical difficulties or any other concerns.
As your child develops, you can expect to see his or her skills developing each month. Your doctor often refers to these skills as "developmental milestones." Most parents get excited about major milestones such as when their child walks or says their first word. It is important to have an idea of when the milestones should be reached. If your child misses a milestone, you should tell your child's doctor — it might indicate a problem.
PLEASE, if you suspect your child may have a problem, don't delay. Contact your family doctor, public health nurse, or Easterseals in your area immediately.
As your young child develops, here are some simple signs to watch for that may indicate serious problems:
Seeing If your child...
Does not follow objects with his eyes by age 6 months
Is often unable to locate and pick up small objects that have been dropped
Frequently rubs his eyes or complains that eyes hurt; or has reddened, watering or encrusted eyelids
Holds head in a strained or awkward position (tilts head to either side or thrusts head forward or backward) when trying to focus on someone or something
Sometimes or always crosses one or both eyes
Fails to notice objects, people or animals around him when other children do
Hearing If your child...
Does not turn to face the source of strange sounds or voices by six months, or if he sleeps through most noises
Rubs or pulls at his ears repeatedly; has frequent earaches or runny ears
Talks in a very loud or soft voice
Does not react when you call from another room
Turns the same ear toward a sound he wishes to hear
Moving If your child...
Is not kicking legs and grabbing with hands by age 3 months
As an infant, arches back when lying on the back or being held
Always seems to favor using one hand over the other before age 2 years
Drags or favors one side
If you recognize any of these signs in your child, contact your doctor or a public health nurse immediately.
The following are common motor milestones. If your child is not able to do these things by the age suggested, it may indicate a problem that should be reported to your pediatrician:
Talking Your child should...
Say "mama" and "dada" by age 1 year
Say the names of a few objects and people by the age 1 ? years
Attempt nursery rhymes or short TV jingles by age 2 ? years
Talk in short sentences by age 3 years
Be understood by people outside the family by age 3 years
Playing Your child should...
Try to put toys in his mouth by age 7 months
Play games such as peek-a-boo, patty cake and wave good-bye by age 1 year
Play group games such as hide-and-seek or tag with other children by age 4 years
Share and take turns by age 5 years
Thinking Your child should...
Respond to his name when called by age 1 year
Identify hair, eyes, ears, nose and mouth by pointing to them by age 2 years
Understand simple stories told or read by age 3 years
Give reasonable answers to simple questions such as, "What do you do when you are sleepy?" or "What do you do when you are hungry?" by age 4 years
Understand the meaning of the words "today," "tomorrow" and "yesterday" by age 5 years
Moving Your child should...
Hold his head up when lying on tummy by age 3 months
Roll over by age 8 months
Sit up without help or support by age 9 months
Crawl on hands and knees by age 1 year
Walk by age 2 years
Walk down steps by age 3 years
Balance on one foot for a short time by age 4 years
Throw and catch a large ball bounced to him by age 5 years
Using his/her hands Your child should...
Bat and swipe at toys by age 4 months
Open hands by age 3 months
Pass toys from one hand to the other by age 9 months
Pick up little objects like cheerios by age 10 months
Bang toys together by age 11 months
Living skills Your child should...
Drink from a cup and use a spoon by age 2 years
Help with getting dressed by age 3 years
Dress without supervision by age 5 years
If not, then please contact your doctor or a public health nurse immediately.
If you would like your child's development evaluated through your state's early intervention system, you can find the lead agency for your state and how to contact it through the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center Web site. Or, contact Easterseals in your area to learn more.