Do you find yourself constantly assessing if your children are meeting all of their developmental milestones? Why isn’t he walking? Shouldn’t he be talking more? Should he be able to hold a crayon? Draw a circle?

Do you compare your children’s development to other kids their age? Even if we don’t want to do this – it is sometimes hard to control.

Do you worry about whether your children are meeting their developmental milestones. Here is a great reference listed by age.

Well stop guessing if your children are meeting their developmental milestones! I invited Physical Therapist and Early Intervention Specialist, Trisha Roberts to help us understand what red flags we should be looking for by age.

Children develop at their own rate, but there are normative charts for the average time frame for major developmental milestones and achievements.

If a child is significantly outside of the normal range, it is considered a red flag. The following are red flags by age. If your child is exhibiting some of these red flags, consult your pediatrician and/or get an evaluation from an Early Intervention Specialist.

NOTE: If children were born prematurely, they will most likely be slower in acquiring their developmental milestones, but the progression should follow the normal sequence, not necessarily the same age range.

Red Flags by Age

Red Flags 3 Months

Crosses eyes most of the time
Doesn’t seem to focus on mom’s face
Doesn’t “track” a toy (follow a toy with his eyes from mid-line to right and left)
Doesn’t hold a toy if placed in their hand
Doesn’t smile at father or mother

Red Flags 6 Months

One or both eyes turn out all the time
Doesn’t reach for or grasp a toy when held out in front of them
Reaches with only one side
Does not bring toys or hands to mouth

Red Flags 9 Months

Not rolling
Only uses one arm
Poor midline orientation of head and hands
No attempt to pull self to sitting when hands are held
Cannot sit when propped and falls over
Only gets out of sitting position by throwing body backwards
Does not bear weight on legs when supported in standing position
Seems to drag one side when crawling on belly or on hands and knees
Shows no enjoyment in being around people. Doesn’t squeal or laugh, doesn’t like to cuddle, has no interest in games etc.

Red Flags 12 Months

Does not move out of prone position when placed there
No babbling
Doesn’t respond to their name
Cannot get in or out of sitting position
Does not have some form of locomotion- scooting, belly crawl, creeping
Multiple ear infections
Baby isn’t reaching, pointing, or waving
Doesn’t point to objects or pictures
Doesn’t look for an object that is dropped or covered up
Only uses one hand for grasping and playing
Doesn’t take food off a spoon
Unable to pass a toy or object from one hand to the other

Red Flags 15 Months

Unable to stand briefly, if placed
Does not have a single word that they use consistently (mama, dada, no)
Not pulling to standing
Not cruising
Consistently walks on toes
Not picking up and eating finger foods

Red Flags 18 Months

Not walking
Unable to get to standing position from the middle of the floor
If child has been walking for at least 6 months, should be able to squat and return to standing
Only plays with one toy

Red Flags 2 Years

Unable to squat to stand
Does not have stair mobility
Doesn’t run
Doesn’t scribble
Trouble with playground skills: unable to climb a ladder, seat self and slide
Falls on uneven surfaces consistently
Unsteady gait
Unable to jump down from a stable object
Doesn’t follow simple instructions
Doesn’t point to body parts (“Where is your nose?” “Where is your belly button?”)
Isn’t using 2-word combinations
Doesn’t imitate simple actions or gestures
Doesn’t know the function of common objects like a comb or glass (“What is this used for?”)
Unable to take off socks or hat

Red Flags 3 Years

Unable to get on/off riding toy
Unable to produce movement on a riding toy
Unable to jump in place or jump forward
Unable to build a tower of 6 or more blocks
Unable to imitate drawing a circle or horizontal line
Unable to undress independently

Red Flags 5 Years

Is not talking in sentences and can’t be easily understood by strangers
Unable to tell a simple story
Unable to gallop
Unable to skip
Fearful of playground equipment
Unable to hold a crayon correctly
Can’t draw a circle or square

What Should I do if my child is displaying developmental red flags?

Early intervention in the form of Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy can dramatically improve a child’s development. The sooner treatment starts, the better the prognosis and outcome. The let’s wait and see approach is not best in these situations. If a parent is concerned and has noted several red flags, they should seek an evaluation by their child’s pediatrician or an Early Intervention Specialist.

Therapy with an infant, baby or young child can significantly improve that child’s overall function and development. Early Intervention Specialists will use unique toys and activities that will engage your child in play and promote development. Your therapist will give you exercises, activities and suggestions that you can use to help your child. Regardless of the cause or severity of a problem, the goal of Early Intervention Therapists is to maximize the potential of each child!


imageTrisha Roberts is a Physical Therapist, Early Intervention Specialist and an adoptive mother. You can visit her store at and find more of her work at



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