Developmental Red Flags

Every baby develops at his or her own pace, and each developmental milestone occurs at different times for different babies—usually within the range of a few months.

Sitting, for example, may occur between 4 and 7 months of age, depending on the baby. Some babies may take a little longer to achieve this milestone, and that’s absolutely normal.

If your baby does not achieve a milestone within the expected range of time, it’s always a good idea to let his or her healthcare provider know. There may or may not be a developmental problem; if there is, the earlier it’s caught, the earlier it can be addressed.

Signs of Possible Developmental Delays

When a baby doesn’t reach certain developmental milestones by the expected range of time, it could signify a developmental delay. If so, the earlier the delay is identified and treated, the better the outcome. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that parents act early and alert their baby’s healthcare provider about possible delays at the following ages:

At 2 Months

Tell your baby’s healthcare provider if your baby does not or cannot:

  • Respond to loud sounds
  • Watch objects as they move
  • Smile at people
  • Bring hands to mouth
  • Hold the head up when pushing up while lying on stomach

At 4 Months

Tell your baby’s healthcare provider if your baby does not or cannot:

  • Watch objects as they move
  • Smile at people
  • Hold the head steady
  • Coo or make sounds
  • Bring objects to the mouth
  • Push down with legs when feet are placed on hard surface
  • Move one or both eyes in all directions with ease

At 6 Months

Tell your baby’s healthcare provider if your baby does not or cannot:

  • Try to get things within reach
  • Show affection for caregivers
  • Respond to sounds
  • Easily bring objects to the mouth
  • Make vowel sounds
  • Roll over
  • Smile, laugh or squeal

Tell the healthcare provider, as well, if your 6-month-old seems either very stiff (with tight muscles) or very floppy (like a rag doll).

At 9 Months

Tell your baby’s healthcare provider if your baby does not or cannot:

  • Sit, even if helped
  • Bear weight on legs, with support
  • Babble (“baba”,  “mama”, “dada”)
  • Respond to name
  • Look where you point
  • Engage in back-and-forth play
  • Transfer toys from one hand to other

At 1 Year

Tell your baby’s healthcare provider if your baby does not or cannot:

  • Crawl
  • Stand when supported
  • Look for things he/she sees you hide
  • Say single words (such as “mama” or “dada”)
See also ...

•  If you’re concerned about your baby’s development (advice from the CDC)

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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