Is your Child Developing Properly?

A Checklist that Helps Parents to Recognize the First Signs of Serious Neuromuscular Diseases.

Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice.

Is our child developing properly? That is the question on almost every parent's mind. It is also a matter of particular concern for first-time parents. The best way of handling this stress is to know what new skills your baby should develop every month.

Every baby is born with a set of innate reflexes that guarantee survival in the first days and months of life. The development of these reactions starts in the prenatal period. Some of them (for example, the sucking reflex) disappear as the child grows older, while others stay forever.

The Psychomotor Development During a Child's First Year of Life

  • 2 months — Most babies raise their head while lying on their back. They grab objects in close proximity with their hands, bring their hands to their mouth and examine them.
  • 3 months — The baby should be able to lift his head when lying on his stomach, support upper body with arms and push up. The baby begins to follow moving objects with eyes. Infants produce cooing sounds that resemble vowels at 3-4 months.
  • 4.5-5 months — The baby is able to sit well with support, holding his head up. Also, gets into a sitting position after being pulled up. This indicates a tendency towards the upright body position. The child explores toys and randomly extracts sounds from them. Understands simple gestures.
  • 5-5.5 months — The baby begins to roll over (according to expert opinion, roll over both ways (stomach to back and back to stomach) normally happens from 2.5 to 8.5 months). The baby tries to grasp objects using left or right hand, as well as both hands.
  • 6 months — The baby turns his head in response to his own name. Sits with support. In a sitting position and when lying on the stomach, the baby turns his head in different directions, looks around, manipulates objects. May start to crawl.
  • 6.5-7.5 months — Starts sitting unaided. Passes things from one hand to the other and rotates them in his hands.
  • 7.5-8.5 months — A stronger upright position: the child begins to bounce up and down and put weight on his feet when you pull him to standing. Advancing motor skills. The baby sits without support and plays with toys, lifting an object with both hands.
  • 8.5-9.5 months — Reflexes are gradually replaced with voluntary movements. The baby develops the first gestural communication - hand-clapping. By this time the child already knows how to wave "Bye!" and begins to use a pointing gesture (a pointing gesture should occur no later than 1.5 years). Babies also start babbling, using sounds from their native language.
  • 9.5-11 months — The child actively explores crawling on all fours. Develops object manipulation and pincer grasp (with two fingers). Tries to drink from a cup on his own. By 11 months, the baby stands up with support.
  • 11-12 months — The baby starts throwing things and explores elementary constructive activities (for example, disconnecting rings). Says first words. Understands simple words and instructions. The baby understands the concept of object permanence and develops body awareness. Remembers objects and events. Expresses toy preference. The connections between the frontal, visual and sensorimotor cortex get stronger.

The slow development of motor skills, involuntary muscle twitching and other non-obvious symptoms can sometimes hide serious neuromuscular disorders. Most pediatricians have only a few patients with neuromuscular diseases in their entire careers. Although it rarely happens, parents should closely monitor the child's condition and listen to their intuition.

Children with Neuromuscular Disease Symptoms May Have

  • The child's motor reflexes are absent or not age-appropriate. Children go through different stages of muscle development from the first month to one and a half years. At first, they begin to hold their head up, then roll over, crawl, sit, stand up and walk. Delays or gaps that last for several months at any of these stages (especially when it comes to a sitting position) are a reason to see a doctor.
  • Movement disorders. The signs of neuromuscular diseases become more noticeable after 15 months. It happens when parents compare their baby to other children. Clumsy movements and «walking on toes» are typical symptoms that parents should pay attention to. Problems climbing, including climbing stairs, is another warning signal.

For that reason, the observations of teachers, coaches, relatives and peers in early childhood become valuable. Especially when they confirm parents’ suspicions.

The Munich System for Diagnosing the Physical and Mental Development of a Child under One Year of Age will Help you Evaluate the Psychomotor Development of your Baby.

What Behavior can be Considered as a Matter of Concern in a Child under 4 Months of Age?

  • Feeding problems (baby refuses breast, bottle, pacifier).
  • Low mobility.
  • Trembling hands, feet, or chin.
  • Baby keeps tilting his head to one side.
  • Baby is arching back, as well as frequently throwing his head back.
  • Asymmetry in motor development. For example, moves only one leg or arm.
  • Tendency to clench fists tightly after the second month of life.
  • Hyperactivity and hypersensitivity to changes in temperature or noise (the baby becomes tense).

What Behavior can be Considered as a Matter of Concern in a Child after 4 Months of Age?

  • Does not like lying on his stomach — starts crying, cannot place weight on forearms, has difficulty lifting his head.
  • Standing position on toes (like a ballerina), crosses his legs, straightened at the knees.
  • Tightly squeezes his palms, hides his thumb in his fists.
  • When the baby is pulled to a sitting position, the head «does not keep up with the body,» the baby cannot hold his head.

Undoubtedly, it is not enough to observe one of these symptoms to determine the child’s disease. The diagnosis can only be made by a doctor.

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