Know the Warning Signs: How to Spot Developmental Delays in Infants

If you’re reading this article, that already means you’re doing a good job as a parent. You’re demonstrating that you’re worried about your child’s wellbeing and that you care for them. That’s not something everyone can claim — believe it or not.

Being on the lookout for developmental delays in infants is a core part of being a new parent. By catching developmental delays early in life, you can address them before they become something that actively interferes with your child’s life. And they’re not always easy to spot.

Developmental delays can originate from almost anywhere, no matter what you do. Sometimes, your child’s genetic code may be interfering in their development, and you need to teach them how to compensate for it. Other times, their issues may be rooted in birth defects and injuries.

No matter what, delays are just that — delays. Your child can always catch up to everyone else and even excel them. They just need your support, and to learn how to best support your child and spot developmental delays, keep reading below!

Affect Regulation Affects Future Relationships

As a parent, you want the best possible future for your child. You want them to be able to navigate the world with precision and poise; to develop intelligent and passionate minds. Yet, by the time your infant develops into a child, it can seem too late to give them the opportunities you want to.

Most child development occurs before the time they hit the age of six years old. During this time, children come to terms with what they can expect from the world and form the foundational ideas of who they will become. Noticing developmental delays as early as possible is crucial to caring for your child.

One of the most important steps of any infants develop is affect regulation and mentalization. The more you interact with your infant and respond to their emotions, the more they learn about themselves. It creates a crucial relationship between child and caregiver that will act as the child’s home base for future excursions into the world. 

And to learn how to best establish that relationship, keep reading below!

Children Should Cry When You Leave the Room

Attachment psychology is still a young field of study, beginning with Freud and now led by Fonagy and Erikson. Despite its age, the field is becoming one of the most important fields for any parent. From it, parents are learning more about how to best raise their children and create a better generation.

One of the most major pieces of research that came out of attachment psychology is the ‘strange situation’ study. In the study, developed by Mary Ainsworth, a child spends some time in a room alone with their caregiver. Then, a stranger joins them.

The caregiver then leaves the room, leaving the child alone with the stranger. Then the caregiver should return, the stranger should leave, and then the caregiver leaves the child alone. Through this process, parents can get a glimpse at how their child views the world.

If the child cries when the caregiver leaves, then the infant view their caregiver as a trusted person. And if they interact with the stranger while the mother is in the room, then they trust that the caregiver will protect them from dangers in the world. These are the earmarks of a secure attachment style, which is fundamental for healthy development.

Always Account for Temperament

People are complex creatures, and one study cannot account for all that happens in their minds — infants included. Genetic components also form a child’s temperament. This means that genetic variables can shape the way a child views the world alone, without anyone else to show it to them.

Temperament is fundamental to the development of an infant’s personality, and so there is no unhealthy temperament. There is also no changing it — your child’s temperament is its own. Through your attachment with them though, you can show them how best approach the world given their individual, unique traits.

Physical Developmental Delays in Infants Are Easier to Spot

Part of what makes infants so adorable is the fact that they are still trying to understand how to work their own bodies. When infants coo and fling their arms around in excitement, they’re actually learning how their body works. Eventually, they’ll take that knowledge and start crawling, and eventually take their first steps.

There are stages of developing motor skills that all infants go through. Before they can start crawling, for example, they must learn that they can force themselves to roll over. And as long as you’re there to catch them when they fall, they’ll continue learning and develop healthy motor skills.

Yet, sometimes infants cannot develop healthy motors skills due to fundamental, neurological basis. The neurons that control coordination awareness simply may not fire in the same way as everyone else, resulting in something like cerebral palsy. There can be several reasons for this, ranging from genetic abnormalities to embryonic development issues.

And if it’s the latter, you may be able to hold someone accountable for it. Stunted motor skills can be compensated for, but they will change your child’s life. And both you and your child deserve justice for it.

Try to Be Cognizant of Cognitive Delays

Not everyone can be a child prodigy — intelligence is one of the most complicated things to study. While IQ can always be increased through hard work and effort, a person’s baseline intelligence is tied into their early development and genetic code. That’s why it’s vital to enrich children’s minds so early: it raises their baselines.

Yet, not all children can match the pace of their peers, and due to developmental issues, may be left behind. By a certain age, your child is expected to be able to comprehend language and perform basic cognitive tasks. Most of the time, you can identify cognitive delays before the time they’re toddlers based on how they respond to new kinds of stimulus.

Healthy children will engage with new experiences and play with them. Yet, children with cognitive delays may not even recognize the new stimulus. They won’t respond to it all, and that can mean your child will need special attention.

Healthy Development Means Being an Imperfect Parent

The most important thing to remember about parenthood is that you will never be perfect. There will be times when you simply can’t take your infant’s wailing, and you won’t always be able to help them with everything. Yet, that’s fine; it’s how infants learn about themselves and the world around them.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on the lookout for developmental delays in infants, though! They can impact a person’s whole life if they’re not caught and addressed early. And part of that means holding the people who may have caused it responsible.

If you think that your infant’s developmental disabilities can be attributed to complications at birth, contact us! We’ll make sure you and your child get justice, and that your doctor learns from their mistakes.