The Parents' Guide


What every Parent must know about Developmental Delay


What’s developmental delay?


After delivery, nothing excites parents more than to see their children successfully going through the various developmental stages (milestones) – sitting, crawling, standing, walking and talking among others. But this can be a worrying experience for many parents who often see children failing to meet a milestone at an expected age.





A developmental delay occurs when a child does not achieve their developmental milestones at the expected time. Children reach developmental milestones at their own pace, and some move faster than others. Two siblings in the same family may reach milestones at different rates. Minor, temporary delays are usually no cause for alarm, but an ongoing delay or multiple delays in reaching milestones can be a sign there may be challenges later in life. Not meeting developmental milestones at the same rate as other kids isn’t always a reason to worry. Children don’t all develop skills on a strict timetable.



Areas of development


The period of a child’s development from pregnancy to age 3 is the most critical in their life – 80% of a child’s brain is formed by the time they reach 3 years old (WHO, UNICEF & World Bank Group, 2018). It is during this period that the right nutrition, health care, environment, sanitation and hygiene, and stimulation are essential to give a child the best start in life.  Within this period, children develop skills in these key areas of development:

* Cognitive (or thinking) skills: The ability to think, learn, and solve problems. 

* Social and emotional skills: The ability to get along with others, communicate needs, and show and express feelings.

* Speech and language skills: The ability to use and understand language.

* Fine and gross motor skills: The ability to coordinate small and large muscles to explore the world. Fine motor skills include small movements like holding a toy or using a crayon. Gross motor skills require larger movements like jumping, climbing stairs, or throwing a ball.

* Daily living activities: The ability to manage everyday tasks.



Causes of developmental delay


There’s no one cause of developmental delays, but there are some risk factors, including heredity, complications during pregnancy, and premature birth. The cause isn’t always known.




Detecting developmental delay


Detecting difficulties in children under 2 years old can be very difficult, unless a child is born with an obvious, identifiable impairment or health condition.


However, there are some risk factors that can be observed. Often difficulties become apparent as children develop, for example:

* If they don’t hold their head up by 6 months’ old

* if they don’t sit independently before 9 months’ old

* if they don’t walk by 18 months’ old


if they don’t begin to talk by 2 years’ old


As a parent, if you notice any delay in your child’s development, seek early help or intervention by consulting a professional. This will help your child to overcome their difficulties or prevent them from getting any worse.


It is important to monitor your child who show a delay, and try to help them to catch up with skills development.


If you have questions about Developmental Delay in Children, reach out to the Centre for Learning and Childhood Development (CLCD) through


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