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May 8, 2022   Return



Each child grows and develops at a different pace. However, consultant neonatologist Dr Hasmawati Hassan explains that there are certain developmental milestones that parents should keep track of, to ensure their child is growing at a healthy rate.

More importantly, monitoring a child’s developmental milestones closely allows parents to pick up developmental delays early, if they are present. Early detection of developmental delays and getting the appropriate intervention may be helpful in minimizing its impact on the child’s overall growth.

Dr Hasmawati shares a few early warning signs parents need to be aware of.


Gross motor development

A child should be able to:

  • Momentarily sit without support at 6 months
  • Pull to stand at 9 to 10 months
  • Walk at 12 to 14 months.


Early warning signs of developmental delay:

  • Not being able to achieve head control at 4 to 6 weeks
  • Not able to roll over by 5 months
  • Not able to sit by 8 months
  • Not able to stand with support by 10 months
  • Not able to walk by 15 months.


Fine motor development

  • A newborn’s hands will remain fisted until 3 months.
  • At 9 to 12 months, a child should be able to do a two-finger grasp.

Early warning signs of developmental delay:

  • The child’s hands remain fisted after 3 months or do reach out for objects after 5 months.


Behaviour and Social Development

A child should have the ability to display stranger anxiety at 7 months, and drink from a cup at 12 months.

Early warning signs of developmental delay:

  • The child is very quiet, does not smile or laugh, does not responding to his/her name, or displays no stranger anxiety at 6 to 9 months.
  • At 9 to 12 months, the child does not understand cues like ‘wave bye-bye’.


Speech and Hearing

  • A child begins to learn to speak by staring with cooing.
  • As the child ages, they learn to respond to sounds and eventually verbalize simple words such as ‘mama’ or ‘dada’.


Early warning signs of developmental delay:

  • The child does not smile at 3 months
  • They make no attempt to laugh at 6 months
  • They do not babble and respond to their name at 6 to 9 months
  • They are still babbling or are quiet at 9 to 12 months.


Advice for Parents

If parents notice any of the above signs indicating possible developmental delays, they should seek help from a pediatrician or neonatologist.

Upon the advice of a doctor, the child may need to be assessed further by a multidisciplinary team of experts. They may include a child psychologist, developmental paediatrician, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, feeding and speech therapist, or others.