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Monday, April 25, 2016

Child Development: Red Flags by Trisha Roberts

Red Flags: An Early Intervention Guide

by Trisha Roberts

Is my Baby delayed?  Does my Baby have a problem? These are questions parents frequently ask in relation to their newborn, baby, or toddler.  This is an article compiling some of the “Red Flags” that indicate that there MIGHT be a problem.  “Red Flags” are warning signs that there may be delays in development or something more serious that warrants further investigation. Red Flags are a signal to parents and care providers that they should initiate a discussion with their pediatrician.  Multiple Red Flags are a strong indicator of a potential problem and should signal parents and physicians to seek an evaluation by an Early Intervention Therapist or Team of Evaluators specializing in child development.

General Red Flags

Signs of stress- especially frequent or “interfering” changes in vitals (Heart Rate Fluctuations, Baby seems to struggle to breathe, difficulty regulating temperature, etc.), color changes, frequent yawning, finger splaying, excessive hiccups or gas
Poor head control after 3 months
Arching of back
Stiffening of legs
Floppy or limp body posture
Head consistently turned or tilted to one side
Unusual shape to head
Loss of Language Skills at any age
Unequal movements one side of the body compared to the other side of the body
Consistently ignores one side of the body
Poor visual tracking when head is supported
No leg kicking when on back
No hand on body exploration when on back
Poor sucking at breast or bottle
Doesn’t startle at loud sounds
Doesn’t turn head to Mom’s voice
“Scissoring” or continual Crossing of legs          

A child is displaying a Developmental Delay if there is a failure to reach milestones appropriate for their age. Children develop at their own rate, but there are normative charts for the average time frame for major developmental achievements.  If a child is significantly outside of the normal range, it is considered a Red Flag.  The following are Red Flags by Age.  NOTE:  If a Child was born prematurely, they will most likely be slower in acquiring their developmental milestones of early childhood, but the progression should follow the normal sequence, not necessarily the timing and age range.

Red Flags By Age  

Developmental Red Flags
Red Flags of Child Development by Age

      Red Flags 3 Months

Crosses eyes most of the time
Doesn’t seem to focus on Mom’s face
Baby doesn’t “track” a toy (follow a toy with his eyes from mid-line to right and left)
Doesn’t hold a toy if placed in their hand
Doesn’t smile at father or mother

Red Flags 6 Months

One or both eyes turn out all the time
Baby doesn’t reach for a grasp a toy when held out front
Reaches with only one side
Does not bring toys or hands to mouth

Red Flags 9 Months

No rolling
Only using one arm
Poor midline orientation of head and hands
No attempt to pull self to sitting when hands are held
Cannot prop sit and falls over and can’t catch themselves
Only gets out of sitting throwing body backward
Does not bear weight through legs when supported in standing
Seems to drag one side when crawling on belly or on hands and knees
Shows no enjoyment in being around people: doesn’t squeal or laugh, doesn’t like to cuddle, has no interest in games like “Peek-a-Boo”, etc.

Red Flags 12 Months

Does not move out of prone when placed there
No Babbling
Doesn’t respond to their name
Cannot get in or out of sitting position
Does not have some form of locomotion- scooting, belly crawl, creeping
Multiple Ear Infections
Baby isn’t reaching, pointing, or waving
Doesn’t point to objects or pictures
Doesn’t look for an object that is dropped or covered up
Only uses one hand for grasping and playing
Doesn’t take food off a spoon
Unable to pass a toy or object from one hand to the other

Red Flags 15 Months

Unable to stand briefly, if placed
Does not have a single word that they use consistently (mama, dada, no)
Not pulling to standing
Not Cruising
Consistently walks on toes
Not picking up and eating finger foods

Red Flags 18 Months

Not Walking
Unable to get to standing from the middle of the floor
If child has been walking for at least 6 months, should be able to squat and return to standing
Only plays with one toy

Red Flags 2 Years

Unable to squat to stand
Does not have stair mobility
No running
Doesn’t scribble
Trouble with “playground skills:” unable to climb a ladder, seat self and slide; unable to step over playground boundaries,
Falls on uneven surfaces consistently
Unsteady gait
Unable to jump down from a stable object
Doesn’t follow simple instructions
Doesn’t point to body parts (“Where is your nose?” “Where is your belly button?”)
Isn’t using 2-word combinations
Doesn’t imitate simple actions or gestures
Doesn’t know the function of common objects like a comb or glass (“What is this used for?”)
Unable to take off socks or hat

Red Flags 3 Years

Unable to get on/off Riding toy
Unable to produce movement on a Riding Toy
Unable to jump in place or jump forward
Unable to build a tower of 6 or more blocks
Doesn’t or try to imitate drawing a circle or horizontal line
Eats with a spoon and very little spilling
Unable to undress independently

Red Flags 5 Years

Is not talking in sentences and can’t be easily understood by strangers
Isn’t able to tell a simple story
Unable to gallop
Unable to skip
Fearful of playground equipment
Unable to hold a crayon correctly
Can’t draw a circle or square

What Should I do if my child is displaying Red Flags of Development?

Early intervention in the form of Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy can dramatically improve a child’s development.  The sooner treatment starts, the better the prognosis and outcome--The “Let’s Wait and See” is not the best approach. If a parent is concerned and has noted several Red Flags, they should seek an evaluation of their child by a physician or Early Intervention Therapist.

Therapy with an infant, baby or young child can significantly improve that child's overall function and development.  Early Intervention Therapists will use unique toys and activities that will engage your child in play and promote development. Your therapist will give you exercises, activities,  and suggestions to help you help your child at home, at school, and in the community.  Regardless of the cause or severity of a problem, our Goal as Early Intervention Therapists is to maximize the potential of each child!

The Website associated with this Blog, has a wealth of excellent toys that can be helpful in advancing the skills of your child whatever their age or problem.  Click Here to visit

Toys can Promote Normal Development
Toys are Used in Therapy to Promote Skills

Children Learn by Playing
Children Learn Through Play

Unique Toys that enhance Kids Development

Therapists will Give Suggestions for Unique Toys and Activities to Help Advance Your Child's Development!

Author:  Trisha Roberts

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  1. Great cumulative summary of areas to look out for with development!

  2. Thanks for the breakdown of red flags to look out for by age. This a very informational and helpful post.