What is typical development?

There are many ways that caregivers can evaluate if a child is developing typically and achieving their milestones. Some of the core milestones are:





Sitting up without help by 7 months

Babbling by 6 months

Intentional eye contact with caregiver at 6-10 weeks

Cruising by 10 months

Shaking head for “No” by 8 months

Social smile at 6-8 weeks

Standing without help by 11 months

Imitating sounds by 9 months

Responding to their name and turning their head at 6-9 months

Walking along by 13 months

Using a word with meaning by 11 months

Pointing by 9 months


Development is not the same for every child and some children may walk later, while others may talk later. A slight delay in one developmental area is not always a cause for concern.


When should I be concerned about a child's early development?

When children do not meet these milestones, some early developmental concerns might emerge. Indications of developmental delays vary from child to child. Some occur early during a child’s development and others may emerge later, as well as some may be mild and others more severe. A general indicator is a child’s difficulty achieving one or more of their developmental milestones, such as moving, walking, communicating, or talking later than would be expected.

For example, when compared to other children the same age, a child may be behind in the ability of sitting on their own, standing on their feet, walking, or running. Another child may be having trouble communicating with words or behaving in unexpected ways in large, noisy, or busy environments. Another, still, may seem uninterested in talking or playing with peers or even when interested, interacting with them in unusual ways (e.g., hitting, throwing toys). It is also possible that a child may spontaneously lose one skill that they may have already acquired.

Early developmental concerns may emerge from a number of different causes, some of which occur before a child is born, some during childbirth, and others early in a child’s life. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Visual or hearing impairments.
  • Autism, learning disabilities and intellectual developmental disorder.
  • Medical problems (e.g., genetic, hereditary, or metabolic conditions, prematurity, infections).
  • Prenatal exposure to toxins (e.g., lead, alcohol, controlled substances) or head trauma.
  • Maltreatment or psychosocial trauma in the first years of life.


What can I do to help a child facing an early developmental concern?

Caregivers know their children best. If you are a caregiver, timely identification and intervention are essential for supporting a child facing early developmental concerns. So, there are a few things that you may attempt:

  • Pay close attention. Observe your child's attempts to move and communicate, as well as observe your child during playtime. Children build skills rapidly at the beginning of their lives and, with each week that passes, a child with a delay can potentially fall behind his/her peers.
  • Identify the nature of the delay. Try to identify what areas of development (e.g., talking, moving, walking, socializing, etc.) your child is struggling with.
  • Talk to your child's teacher. If you notice anything different about your child's development that you feel concerned about, ask your child's teacher about their perceptions and if something came up at school.
  • Talk, read, and sing to and with your child. Those are all attainable ways to help your child develop their communication skills.
  • Talk with your child about emotions. Teach your child words to help them express how they feel. For example, if you notice that your child is acting in an angry way, you can say "I can see that you are angry right now".
  • Teach your child how to deal with stressful emotions. You can help your child deal with stressful emotions by helping them to take deep breaths, seek comfort with their favorite toys or go to a quiet and safe place when they feel upset.
  • Warmly encourage your child to play with other children. If your child is reluctant to play with other children, you can warmly encourage them and let them know that you will be there to support them if they need.

If you have already tried some or most of these suggestions and the problems your child is facing persist, it may be the moment to seek out professional support.

Skills that don't evolve the way they should despite efforts, difficulties that are discrepant from those faced by children the same age and that negatively interfere with your child and family’s daily lives may indicate the presence of a Neurodevelopmental Disorder.


What kind of professional support can I seek out for help?

It is not unusual that some caregivers feel embarrassed, inadequate, or guilty if their child is struggling. But, if you are concerned about your child's development, support and guidance are available now. Communicate concerns during and between visits with your child's doctor. The earlier a child gets help the higher the chances for improvement there are.

Pediatricians or family physicians can help to address initial concerns and refer to specialized professionals. Occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language therapists, and mental health professionals can help a child build skills when they are struggling. These professionals also work with caregivers so that they know how to support skill development outside of therapy sessions.

The public system provides services through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Centers of Multidisciplinary Assessment, Counseling, and Support (KEDASY).


Where to find more information

Specific, detailed, and clinical information on disorders associated with early developmental problems such as Intellectual Developmental Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be found at [clinical short guides at the program website].

If you want to know more about the closest available services for educational and public health systems for children and adolescent assistance across the country, go to our Services Mapping webpage here.

You can also find more information by pointing your phone camera at the QR code below or by clicking here.



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