My baby isn't meeting his milestones — What should I do?

We have tips on how to deal with your child’s delays, plus, find out where to get help!

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Developmental milestones are two words that could give parents a lot of concern in the first few years of their infant’s life.

These milestones are divided into five categories — language and communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, social skills and cognition. This is the first thing your paediatrician will look at when diagnosing if your kewpie’s growth is on track or not.

However, Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, notes that different babies develop at different rates and the age at which a certain milestone is supposed to happen is just a guide. “It’s best to see how your baby’s skills develop over time and how the child behaves.”

“It’s best to see how your baby’s skills develop over time and how the child behaves.”

Psychiatrist Dr Lim Boon Leng of Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellnessss adds that while developmental disabilities such as autism, intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy often result in developmental delays, an infant who has a delay may not have a disability.

“Some developmental delays may pertain only to motor skills, and the child is cognitively or intellectually normal and therefore can attend normal school.”

In fact, Dr Lim adds, there are even instances when an ear infection is to blame for your child’s delay. So, identifying the delay early also means that junior will get the treatment sthey need.

He notes, too, that it may not be possible to prevent developmental delays from occurring as it could be due to far too many reasons. “Many a time, the specific cause for your child’s delay is unknown.”
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Dr Lim highlights common strategies that can minimise the chances of a delay, while improving the speed at which you can intervene. These include:

* Taking folic acid during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects.

* Infant screening tests to detect early deafness and hearing problems.

* Immunisation to prevent diseases that may cause developmental delays.

* Eye examinations to detect amblyopia, which is reversible with early detection.

Both Dr Lim and Koh offer insights on what you should do when you spot a delay in your little one, as well as whom to turn to for help…

How can parents determine if their child is suffering from a delay?

Dr Lim: Go for your child’s scheduled paediatric check-up. If you have any concerns, check with the child’s doctor. Paediatricians follow strict guidelines and if there are delays, they will investigate further.
Koh: If there is a significant lag in their age-appropriate skills or when their delays are causing difficulties in their daily routine, then parents should seek help for their child’s condition.

“If you pick up any unusual delays, approach your paediatrician promptly and seek treatment as soon as possible — early intervention ensures good outcomes.”

At what age should parents be concerned about the delay in their child’s development?

Dr Lim: There are different timelines for different developmental milestones. For example, a baby should start to walk by 12 months and if he or she is not doing so by 18 months, there is cause for concern. If you pick up any unusual delays, approach your paediatrician promptly and seek treatment as soon as possible — early intervention ensures good outcomes.

Whom should parents turn to for help in diagnosing and treating these delays?

Dr Lim: Parents should turn to their child’s paediatricians first.
Koh: Parents can also seek help from a psychologist, educational psychologist, allied health professionals or psychiatrists for assessments and interventions.

What are kinds of therapies/treatments can parents explore?

Koh: Treatment will depend on the kind of milestones where the child may be lagging behind his peers, as well as its severity and how it affects the child’s daily routines.

Any advice for parents who are coming to terms with their child’s diagnosis?

Dr Lim: It can be difficult to come to terms that your child may have special needs. Give yourself time to accept the diagnosis and the grief of losing the child that you expected. However, early intervention does bring about good outcomes. Having accepted the situation, dream new dreams for your child, recognise his strength and limitations and help him become the best that he can be!

Photos: iStock

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