In this day and age of hyper-vigilance, it’s easy for moms to get freaked out about products or activities that can harm their child. Many moms watch their children closely, ensuring that they only receive the best of care, from the foods they eat to the medicine they take to the bath products and clothing they use.
But even with a close eye on development, there can be signs easily missed that tell the mom her child isn’t progressing as he should.
This shouldn’t scare moms, however. I know how frightening it can be to raise a child and feel like everything is out to harm her, but the vast majority of children fall into the “normal” range, even if they are on the edge of the scale.
And even if your child is displaying worrying signs, know that in many cases there are ways to help them continue developing and even catch up to where they need to be.
This isn’t a list to scare moms, but to inform them so that they can decide when to talk to a doctor and when to realize that their kiddo is just taking things at their own pace.
If your little one is showing at least 5 of the signs listed here, it may be a good idea to talk to your pediatrician for more information.
15 Not A Crier
We all hope that we have a super obedient, well mannered child. One that never cries or fusses. It’s a wonderful thought until you realize that a child who doesn’t cry may actually be missing a vital developmental milestone.
Since babies haven’t learned the art of talking, they have to communicate to us through their cries or smiles. The CDC says that children should be able to express different needs with different types of cries by the age of 4 months.
Children found to be on the autism spectrum are often described as quiet and withdrawn- they don’t cry or fuss, but they also don’t engage with others around them. A child who is quiet, but makes eye contact, smiles and otherwise engages in their surroundings may just not be a crier, but if they show other worrying signs, it’s always worth the chat to your pediatrician.
14 Can't Recognize Familiar Voices
Your baby recognizes your voice from a very young age. In fact, they actually recognize it before they’re born. According to parents.com, several studies have shown that a fetus responds to the sound of their own mother’s voice rather than to any other mother’s voice. Once born, they quickly associate that voice with the sight and smell of mom.
If your little one isn’t looking around for you when you talk, or doesn’t seem to recognize dad’s voice or other close family members who have been around them from birth, it may be a sign that you want to talk to your doctor.
While there may be many reasons for your baby not responding to familiar voices, a common one is hearing impairment. This can be due to injury or genetics, but either way there are often options to help restore normal or near-normal hearing.
13 Not Grasping Objects
Within a few weeks of birth, most babies will grasp onto anything that touches their palms, according to babycenter.com. We all think it’s adorable when a baby grabs onto our finger like they’re holding our hand or wanting to be close to us. The reality is that they are developing the coordination and strength that they will need later on to grab and lift things to their mouths. But it really is adorable and I’m going to say that they definitely want to be close to us!
If your little bub isn’t showing interest in toys put in front of him by 3 months or
grasping onto things by the 4 month mark, you may want to have that chat with the doctor. Although it may not signal much of anything, it may also mean that the muscle development is lagging.
12 Not Laughing Or Cooing
This one goes hand in hand with the no crying problem. By 4 months old, your child should be able to make either little laughing sounds or coos, according to files from ocd.pitt.edu. They are signs that your kiddo is enjoying something, from a funny face you’re making to the way the light is reflecting off the wall. A lack of laughing or cooing could indicate that your child hasn’t developed these skills yet for some reason.
Children with autism are often described as withdrawn and quiet, not showing interest in the things around them. They don’t smile or laugh when you play with them, and they often won’t even make eye contact, as they haven’t developed the ability to pick up on social cues.
While this doesn’t always mean something is wrong, if it is coupled with other missed milestones, it is definitely something to talk about.
11 No Smiles
If you’re anything like me, you watched your baby closely to catch every movement and sound that she would make. The anticipation of a real smile (not just the gassy ones) was always in the air. When I finally got that first real, beautiful smile I was completely overwhelmed. After that the smiles just kept coming.
Babies learn this skill early on, which means that you can catch it early if they’ve missed that development. A kiddo who doesn’t want to smile isn’t actually just a serious baby without a sense of humor. They, for whatever reason, haven’t developed a vital skill that is necessary is continued motor function, and the CDC suggests you talk to your doctor early on if you’re worried. While there are many reasons that this could happen, it isn’t something to worry about too much unless coupled with other problems.
10 Isn't Turning Head To Look Around
Babies are curious little creatures, trying to take in a brand new, big world. They have a lot to learn in a very short amount of time, so they have to explore everything, touch everything and sometimes just stare at things (or people!).
A baby who isn’t doing this may just be comfortable sitting in mom’s arms, but if your kiddo isn’t showing any curiosity after a few months, it may be something to keep an eye on. Babycenter.com says to notify your doctor if you notice your baby can’t support their head well.
One big factor is whether or not your child tries to lift their head and look around. For instance, if you shake a rattle or sing their favorite song while standing just behind them, they should do their best to turn and look at you, even though they can’t coordinate it fully quite yet.
9 Hasn't Rolled Over
I was so excited the first time my baby girl rolled over! She had been trying so hard that it felt like such a big accomplishment. Little did I know that it was the start of having a baby that could move around on their own. No more leaving her on a play mat while I made lunch!
While every baby develops at their own pace and there are such wide spectrums as to what would be considered normal, a child who hasn’t rolled over yet by 8 months may be cause for some concern, according to ocd.pitt.edu. Rolling over in itself is a useful function, but it’s the coordination and muscle tone that is developed through learning this skill that is so vital to the rest of the development that eventually leads to walking, climbing and running.
8 Not Reaching For Objects
Usually we think of a kid who is always grabbing at things around the house as a nuisance or in need of boundaries and guidelines. The truth is, however, that grabbing at objects in a natural way for our little ones to learn about the world around them. A figurine on a tv stand isn’t very interesting to us, but to a baby it’s a sensation overload of texture and color and temperature.
A child who isn’t reaching for objects within close vicinity to them by around 8 months may be lacking the muscle tone or coordination to complete the task. This is worrisome for future development that is vitally necessary for normal growth. While some kids just aren’t as interested in expelling the energy needed to reach for objects, if this is couples with other odd behaviors, it’s worth watching closely, especially since the CDC says that grabbing for objects should emerge around the 6 month mark.
7 Doesn't Recognize Their Own Name
You probably spent a long time deciding on what to name your little one, going back on forth with your partner on ideas and putting together the perfect first and middle name to match your last name. It’s so exciting when your baby is born and you actually get to put that name to their beautiful face.
Early on in their development babies begin to recognize their name, usually by the 8 month mark, according to babycenter.com. If you find that you can call your child’s name over and over, even from a close distance, without their response, you may want to consider talking to the doctor about it. While some children seem extra gifted at ignoring their mother’s voice, a baby who doesn’t respond to their name may have a hearing problem or have trouble understanding communication.
6 Not A Babbler
Children can talk. A LOT. Every statement from mom is met with a “why?” Or sometimes just plain old “no”. There seems to be a never ending cycle of chit chat coming from their mouths and sometimes it seems like how you answer doesn’t even matter because they just keep chattering along, regardless.
As you watch your baby grow, you may think that you have years before you have to start responding to constant babble, but the truth is that you could have a talker on your hands from a very early age. Babies begin babbling around 4-8 months old, even though most of what they say doesn’t consist of actual words. You may just have a quiet one on your hands, but a kiddo who doesn’t chatter even a little bit by 8 months is something to keep your eye on, according to ocd.pitt.edu.
5 Can't Sit Up By Themselves
Sitting up starts right after they conquer rolling over, and kiddos seem very proud of themselves when they master this technique. All of these developments go hand in hand to help your baby get closer and closer to walking, which begins a whole new phase of life- toddlerhood.
It’s concerning for doctors when they see a child who isn’t sitting up by 12 months old, because it means that they don’t have the muscle strength or coordination to continue development and eventually start walking. Whether this is due to a physical factor or a mental one, your doctor will want to run some tests to determine the cause for this missed milestone.
The good news is that some children just fall outside of what is considered the normal range, with no adverse effects for later on in life.
4 They Aren't Crawling
Of course, once your little one is sitting up, they’re going to want to start moving around and seeing all the interesting things around them. My personal tip? Baby proof now before they start grabbing your vintage jazz albums and pulling them out of the protective sleeves to use as toys.
Crawling is one of those milestones that has a huge gap and some babies skip altogether. You may have a kid on your hands that isn’t going to crawl at all, instead going straight to walking, making you worry for nothing. So don’t get too worked up if you have a 12 month old that isn’t super interested in moving around yet. However, according to parents.com, if you notice that your little one isn’t using each arm and leg equally, it’s worth chatting to your pediatrician about just in case.
3 Haven't Said Their First Word
Did you know that a baby’s first word tends to be “dada” instead of “mama”? This seems surprising, since mothers share a pretty special bond with their kids, but the reason is actually because your baby doesn’t see you as separate from themselves yet, according to mother.ly. Dad is the closest person to them that they view as a separate person, so they tend to say dada first.
That being said, if you haven’t heard a coherent word from your child by the time they reach 12 months, you may want to get them checked out by the doctor, according to ocd.pitt.edu. Common reasons for missing this milestone are speech impediments or fluid in the ears that causes your kiddo to have a hard time hearing. Don’t worry though, a simple procedure and a few speech therapy lessons will get them right back on track!
2 Doesn't Know The Word "No"
Now I know what you’re thinking- what kid listens to the world “no”? Mine sure doesn’t, and not from lack of trying, let me tell you. But this is more than a willful child exercising their free will. According to the CDC, children should know by 9 months of age what the word “no” means, even if they can’t yet say it for themselves.
While it may seem like a silly thing to get worried over, a child who isn’t able to understand the difference between when mom is not happy with them and when mom is pleased with them may mean that they aren’t picking up on normal social cues or they are struggling with language development and communication. It’s worth keeping an eye on and making an appointment if you’re truly concerned.
1 Can't Show Different Emotions
You may think that you won’t have to deal with your child’s moodiness until they hit their teens, but in reality, you’ll most likely be dealing with mood swings before they even hit a year old.
Although their moodiness may be frustrating in the moment, children need to be able to find the boundaries of their emotions and see what gets the response they want and what doesn’t. This is part of their cognitive and social development and is vital in their growth.
If your little one is either emotionless or seems to only be able to display one type of emotion, you may want to talk to your doctor, according to ocd.pitt.edu.
Children should be able to show fear, pain, joy, boredom, fatigue, excitement and many other emotions by the time they hit their first birthday.
If there’s any behavior from your child that you feel isn’t normal, it’s always best to chat to the doctor to make sure that your little one is developing as they should be. We, as mothers, tend to worry and there’s really no way to stop it, but know that you’re doing your very best and your child is the wonderful proof of that!