Signs That my Child Might Need a Physical Therapist

As a new parent, we look forward to our child’s milestones; when will they roll, sit, creep, crawl, and after a while, walk, run and play. Unfortunately, it’s easy to compare your baby’s skills to other babies and start to worry that your child isn’t crawling like all the other babies you know. Babies, however, develop at different paces and some tend to take up developmental skills faster than others.  There does come a time for concern, and that’s when you should speak up to your child’s doctor. They can refer your child to be evaluated by a specially trained pediatric physical therapist. On that note, here are warning signs to look out for:


  1. When your baby prefers to turn head only to one side

Babies have very little control of their heads and neck when they’re firstborn. It is easy for them to begin to rest their head in the same position all the time. This can lead to torticollis, a shortening of the sternocleidomastoid neck muscle, leading to a stiff neck resulting in the child beginning to lose the ability to turn his/her head to both sides. Staying on the same position for prolonged periods could cause deformation to the skull and as such once the baby not wanting to turn is noticed, this should be brought up to the doctor.


  1. When your baby is not bearing weight on legs by 6 months

Babies shouldn’t be standing on their own at the age of 6 months; they just need to be able to support some of their weight while you place them in standing. Babies who are unable to push through their legs in supported standing may have an issue with low muscle tone, hip alignment, or something more serious like a neurologic disorder and as such need further care.


  1. When your baby is not sitting by 8 months

We learn how to sit with lots and lots of practice with mom, dad, babysitter, etc. First, babies support their weight by propping themselves on their arms and then progress to being able to sit while using their hands to play with toys. If your baby cannot maintain balance in a sitting position by 8 months of age, then we might start to worry about poor core strength or a lack of postural reactions that we need to stay balanced. This, however, can be improved with physical therapy.


  1. When your baby is not crawling by 12 months

The brain of a baby is wired to explore. This allows them to navigate their surroundings, learn how to move efficiently, and discover new things. When a baby becomes mobile, their ability to explore drastically increases. Before you know it, that sweet little baby will be exploring the entire house. Crawling plays a huge role in a child’s ability to run, skip, and much more as they grow up. A lack of crawling could be the result of issues with coordination, strength, or even vision. Once a child doesn’t crawl at 12 months, it could signify developmental delay and should be brought up with your doctor for appropriate measures to be taken.


  1. When your baby is not walking by 18 months

Babies are changing and growing every single day. The time frame from when a baby is learning to crawl until they are learning to walk is filled with so many changes. Babies learn to crawl, pull to stand, cruise along furniture, stand on their own, and take those precious first few steps. Some babies learn to walk as early as 9 months and others as late as 18 months.

If a baby spends too much time in baby equipment (walker, exersaucer, jumparoo, etc.), they might not get the practice they need. A child that is not walking on their own by 18 months should be evaluated to see what is causing this delay.


  1. When your child walks on tiptoes for more than 6 months

There are several reasons why children walk on their toes, and toe walking can be a normal phase in development as long as it is temporary

If your child is standing and walking on their toes, a more supportive shoe might be necessary. If your child walks only on their tiptoes for more than 6 months, an evaluation by a physical therapist might be necessary.

Sometimes, children take time to achieve each and every one of these milestones. The most important thing as parents is to take note of your child’s development and bring up any concerns with your managing healthcare professional.