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How to Tell if Your Child is Delayed

Updated on October 12, 2009

As a mom of four kids, I have found that each child is different. Yeah, the experts all say that, but it is hard to believe when you only have one. It is so easy to compare your child to everyone else's and parents tend to have minor bragging contests when it comes to their children's development, making it very difficult to determine what is true or not.

So, how can you tell if your child is delayed or if their behavior is within the normal range? I have kids all over the board when it comes to what is normal. I have a very advanced child and a fairly delayed child, along with two kids in between. Nothing I am talking about here is scientific, but just my experiences. I hope that my experiences help others moms and dads decide if their kids need to be evaluated for possible delays.

First of all, realize that there is typically a wide range of normal. Some kids walk at 9 months, some walk at 18 months. Both would be considered normal. Some kids talk at one year old and some wait until they are three or four. Whether this is caused by a delay of some sort or just your child being a late bloomer is for you and your doctor to decide. I have found that if a child is late developing in just one area, it probably doesn't mean anything. If there are numerous areas that your child is behind in or an obvious reason for a delay then the chances of a true developmental delay are greater. For example, my son had repeated ear infections from three months on. There was an obvious reason for his speech delay - damage to his ears resulting in hearing loss. As my third child and only 20 months old at the time, had he had no ear infections, doctors would have written it off as nothing for awhile longer. As it was it took months of speech therapy to get our first word, years after most kids talk.

There are just so many factors in determining if something is truly a developmental delay. I really liked the What to Expect Books in helping me determine whether something was normal or if I needed to talk further with my doctor about it. What to Expect the First Year and What to Expect the Toddler Years were both very helpful to me as a mom. In fact, even though my youngest is five now, I still refer to it at times. These books give you the normal range for most behaviors and skills. Rather than going to the doctor over every worry, I could read up on it in the book and in most cases, reassure myself that my child was normal.

My first child was a boy, my second child was a girl, my third a boy and my fourth a girl. By the time my third child was born, I had one of each and felt like I knew exactly what to expect. So it was pretty obvious to me right from the start that he was different. I couldn't put my finger on what at the time, but I knew that things were different with him. It turns out he has all sorts of delays that they have yet to pinpoint a diagnosis for - and he is now seven.

My main piece of advice for you is to trust your gut and your instincts. As a mom you can tell if something doesn't seem right. It is healthy to compare your child a little bit to other kids your child's age. This is one of the ways you can tell if your child is truly delayed. Don't obsess over it, but pay attention. Don't compare your child to the extreme's on any issue (like the child who sat up at 3 months), but compare them overall to groups of kids your child's age. This will give you a good idea of whether your child is in the normal range. If every other child in your playgroup of ten kids has been talking for months now and your child still hasn't said his first word, talk to your doctor.

Early intervention is the key - if there really is a problem. Talk to your doctor if you are getting red flags in certain areas. The chances are good that it is probably nothing, but trust your instinct and talk to your doctor if you really are concerned. You have to do what you think is best for your child. If you think something is wrong, push to find out what and get the help you need. The chances will be better for your child to overcome it.


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    • Sher Lessons profile image

      Sher Lessons 

      8 years ago

      Great hub and well written. I am the mother of 2, step mom of 2. I agree all kids are different. You can't take just one thing and worry yourself over it. But keep an eye on it and look for other problems they may have. Having a daughter with multiple disabilities I do agree early intervention is the key. Follow your instincts and if you feel there is a problem don't give up. I am a fan of yours now and will be checking out your other hubs.

    • OmNaser profile image


      8 years ago from kuwait

      Very useful hub thank you, I compare my daughter with her peers to see if she had delays. She had speech delay but we treated it at 3 years old. But I think delayed speech delays things within it like behaviour and communication skills. The child who cannot speak will suffer with comminicating and expressing his feelings. Without expressing his/her feelings the child turns aggressive I think, well that's what i have experienced with my daughter.

      Thanks for the lovely hub!

    • renfen88 profile image


      8 years ago

      good !I am a chinese student .after I graduate from college ,I will be a teacher for those pupils .your ideas will play a very importment role . thank you ! good hub!

    • Julie A. Johnson profile image

      Julie A. Johnson 

      8 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Early intervention is so key, and there is a wide range to nrmal. Nice hub! Julie

    • neysajasper profile image


      9 years ago

      We should be careful about any abnormality but should not worry about normal happenings. The nature is full of numerous differences. I welcome your descriptive noting on ‘child is delayed or not’. It will help to revoke the miss understandings of many moms.

    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 

      9 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "My main piece of advice for you is to trust your gut and your instincts."

      Good advice. Have confidence in your own judgement as a parent and you'll do the right thing by your child.

    • lisalomas profile image


      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Great Hub, but I always expect great hubs you do the best ones so far I have read.

    • Rollnmom profile image


      9 years ago

      Good hub with great info. I am a mother of four also and they are all different.

    • CheriLuvsU profile image


      9 years ago

      Grea advise, I gave birth 4 months ago to my daughter who was 3 weeks early and due to my previous addiction she was also exposed to methadone throughout my entire pregnancy so we had to get her d-tox in order to bring her home. After 5 weeks she came home with us and we got both a nurse and early interventionist that come on a weekly basis to make sure she develop to her age group. She is doing great but I mut admit I was afraid until I she came home and began to do things my older daughter did aroung the same time!

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      You are right they are all different with own individuality and some are slower than others. thank you for your informative hub. creativeone59

    • Specialk3749 profile image

      Karen Metz 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      It is so true that each child is different. After I had my first one I thought I had it all figured out! LOL I have finally learned that none of them are exactly the same. I have also found, that girls and boys are soooo different and needs to be taken into consideration when determining if there is a delay or not.

    • shriash profile image


      9 years ago

      It is true that, parents should follow some extent instints.Thank u for sharing.

    • shriash profile image


      9 years ago

      It is true that, parents should follow some extent instints.Thank u for sharing.

    • RDIndia profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Jennifer, nice hub. It was very nice to read it. I am sure many mums and dads are going to get help from your hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nemingha profile image


      9 years ago

      An excellent hub - when it comes to children's development there really is a wide range of 'normal'.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, what a neat thing to do. Your sharing will help lots of others through that anxiety time. I had forgotten those fears on behalf of mine. It is scary to realize we were reading "I'm Ok, Your Ok". and Dr Spock at the time.

      I do know this much, a child's greatest tool for getting through anything is a caring parent. Your's are fortunate on that score. NEIL

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Good work, good hub. Thanks. Take care.

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      I'm so glad you did a hub on this subject. My daughter does remedial teaching and we have come to the conclusion that the biggest hurdle with these children is often the parents that are in denial. They suspect that their child may have a problem but until the child's delayed development is pointed out by an outsider they prefer to ignore the problem. If only they would realize that it is nothing to be ashamed of and the sooner they seek help or have the child tested the easier it is to help these children.

      Thanks for sharing.


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