Is something wrong if my infant doesn’t develop motor skills at the same pace as other children?
Motor development delay is a common concern for both parents and pediatricians. Naturally, parents tend to compare their child to their other children or those of friends. Pediatricians observe infants in the office and ask questions to screen for developmental delay. Of course, the earlier a problem is detected, the earlier the parents and pediatricians (and physical therapists, if necessary) can begin treatment. Many pediatricians simply ask, “Does your child roll over?” and similar questions. Parents may worry if their child is not meeting the milestones, but it is completely normal for a child to be behind or ahead of other children. Parents don’t always realize that there is a developmental range for acquisition of motor, language and social-emotional skills.
Not only do children develop motor skills at different rates, some even develop their skills in different sequences. Motor skills generally progress from the center of the body outward and from the head downward. For example, when learning to walk, most infants slowly transfer responsibility for movement from their arms to their legs. However, some children skip certain stages of crawling, or never crawl at all, before they learn to walk. Remember to be patient with motor development, continue discussing your concerns with your pediatrician, and get an evaluation if necessary. Don’t worry if your child seems to be developing slower than other or slower than you would like—most likely, he or she is right on target.
—Daniel Weissbluth, MD, pediatrician and co-creator of the Weissbluth Method Infant Nap App and the Weissbluth Method Toddler Bedtime App