Mild development delays with speech or motor skills are quite common with infants and toddlers but cause concern for parents. Early intervention by parents can frequently help a child catch-up with their peers by the time they enter elementary school. It is important for a parent to remember that every child including siblings is different in both physical and mental progress. Comparing your child to a neighbors or relative’s child is not a good plan. There are many resources such as books and online websites that provide a timeline of particular milestones for babies and toddlers. While it is valuable to have a general guideline of the expected learning and behavior of your child, there are times children skip developmental steps completely.
However, there are times that a parent should become concerned and seek help from physicians, therapists or educators. A child that is significantly behind in development requires an evaluation and assessments by experts. Your child’s pediatrician is the first person to talk to about motor or speech delays. A thorough physical examination might reveal vision or hearing difficulties that are preventing a child from learning at the same pace of peers. Social interaction with other children and adults also helps improve development. This is because a child is constantly observing the behavior of others. Helping an infant or child to improve speech and motor skills also has an effect on cognitive functioning.
Infants begin learning from their surroundings and parents immediately after birth. Frequently singing or talking to a child helps them to learn the sounds needed for communication such as cooing noises. Parents should encourage a young child to babble and talk to increase the development of communication skills. If a parent notices significant delays in speech, then contacting a speech-language pathologist is helpful. Many communities have resources through public school systems to provide individualized tutoring to improve speech development. Many of these agencies actually send speech-language pathologists to a child’s home to show parents additional ways to encourage the development of speech.
A child can also experience motor delays of large and fine muscle groups. Parents may notice that an infant is unable to crawl or creep at an appropriate age. A toddler may have difficulty holding utensils such as spoons and forks to eat independently. Delayed eye-hand coordination makes it difficult for a child to hold a pencil to write when they enter school. Finding ways to improve motor delays is vital to prevent a child from being at a disadvantage when formalized education begins. At home, parents can begin to work with a child to improve motor skills by using educational toys and equipment. Placing blocks into the small holes of a container or fitting rings on poles helps to improve a child’s brain functions and motor skills. Alternatively, taking a child outside to throw and catch a ball improves motor skills.
Please be aware that the articles on this site are written by mothers who are discussing their own experiences and their own opinions. They do not, and are not meant to, represent professional advice and should be read with that point firmly in mind.
Our children’s welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the slightest doubt about any aspect of caring for a child you are urged to seek qualified, specialist advice from a professional advisor.