Developmental Delay

Developmental delay is where your child is not meeting their developmental milestones within the expected age range. There are many reasons why a baby may have delayed milestones including prematurity, increased flexibility, not tolerating tummy time, feeding and sleeping issues.

Skills such as smiling for the first time, waving ‘bye bye’ and taking a first step are called developmental milestones.

Children reach milestones by being given the opportunities to play, interact with others and explore their environment.

What should I look out for?

Take a look at the physical developmental milestones:

  1. By 4 months your child should be lifting their head when on their tummy
  2. By 7 months your child should be able to roll both from their front to back and back to front (in both directions)
  3. By 9 months your child should be able sit independently
  4. By 12 months your child should be exploring their environment by either crawling or bottom shuffling
  5. By around 15 months your child should be pulling into standing at a surface
  6. By 24 months your child should be walking without support

If any of these milestones are delayed or not reached, a referral into the physiotherapy service would be appropriate.

Guidance and helpful information

Varying your baby’s positions throughout the day is very important for their development. Ensure your baby spends short but frequent time on their tummy when awake; on their side as well as on their back. Please see links to the right for further advice.

Try to provide stimulation to give distraction and excitement whilst in different positions. Your baby should have equal movements on both sides when they are 3 months old (moving both hands, kicking both legs).

How can we help?

A physiotherapist will assess if your baby’s skills are in line with their development. If a delay in your baby’s skills is identified they would be able to suggest activities and exercises to promote development. If there is a possible underlying cause for the delay then the physiotherapist would be able to make a referral to appropriate services.

It is important to remember that all children are different and some of them achieve their developmental milestones in different time frames. Instead of just looking at the developmental stage achieved by a child, the physiotherapist will also look at the quality of their movements.

What happens next?

Once a referral for your child from your GP or health visitor has been accepted, the physiotherapy team will provide you with an initial appointment over the phone or by post.

The first appointment usually takes place in one of our delivery sites at Child Development Centre in Harlow; Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishops Stortford or St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping.

We will take a detailed history, observe your child playing and moving around as well as perform more specialised tests as required.