Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Is your baby on track?

No two babies are alike, so it stands to reason that the developmental skills of two babies the same age will likely be quite different. But what if you suspect that your baby is falling very far behind for his or her age? Are there guidelines for what a child should be able to do by any given age? And should you worry if your child isn't doing what other babies his or her age are doing?

It's natural for parents to worry if they fear that their baby isn't developing on track. Here are some age appropriate behaviors to watch for:

-- By age four or five months, your baby should begin to roll over. If you're concerned because your baby hasn't rolled over yet, make sure that he or she gets some supervised "tummy time" every day-- put a blanket out on the floor for your baby to lay on. It is easier for baby to attempt to roll if he or she is laying stomach side down (the back to tummy roll is much more difficult to master).

-- Most babies begin to crawl by the time they are between six and ten months. But don't be alarmed if your baby doesn't crawl by then-- some babies just go straight on to walking (and skip that cumbersome crawling piece altogether).

-- By age 12 to 15 months, most babies have mastered the art of walking. Don't be concerned if your cousin's neighbor's sister's baby started walking by age nine months-- sure, that happens, but the majority of babies don't start walking until after their first birthday. Once your baby does start walking, you'll wonder what you ere so anxious about (you may even miss those "easier" days when your baby wasn't quite so mobile).

-- Before your baby turns one year old, he or she will start to babble. Shortly thereafter, expect to hear simple words like "Mama" and "Dada".

-- By the time your baby approaches his or her second birthday, he/she will probably begin saying short sentences or simple two-word combinations. Don't panic if your baby is two and hasn't completed this piece. What should you do?
Consult with your pediatrician at your baby's two-year old check up. The pediatrician may be able to refer you to specialists who can evaluate to see if you child has a speech delay. If your baby is approaching two and a half years old and still isn't talking, you may want to get his or her hearing checked to rule out the possibility of a hearing problem (which would contribute to a speech delay). If your child has had numerous ear infections as a baby, it is possible that there is fluid buildup in his or her ears, which may be making it difficult for him or her to hear. A simple surgical procedure may help with this problem.

If you baby is not hitting any of these milestones, consult with your pediatrician. Keep in mind that if you baby was a "late" roller, he or she will likely be a late crawler and a late walker as well. Some babies just prefer to take their time doing things-- and really, what's the rush?

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