Signs of Developmental Delays in Children

Developmental delays in young children refer to when a child is not reaching expected milestones in certain areas like mental, physical, or emotional growth. If you believe your child is not developing as they should, a birth injury caused by medical malpractice may be to blame. Contact Sokolove Law today to learn how we may be able to help.

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What Are Developmental Delays in Children?

Children should hit certain developmental milestones based on their age. If a child misses these developmental milestones at a certain age, they may be showing signs of a developmental delay. Developmental delays in children can affect all aspects of the child’s life, potentially severely limiting their independence over the course of their life.

However, if a child’s development shows signs of being delayed, it may be an indication of an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. In some cases, a medical error by a doctor or health care professional may have caused a birth injury that led to delays in the child’s development.

It’s important to contact your child’s doctor if they show any signs of developmental delays, though Sokolove Law may be able to help determine if you have a case even if you don’t have an official diagnosis yet.

We have registered nurses on staff with decades of labor and delivery experience who can listen to your story, help you figure out what may have happened, and discuss what legal options you may have.

Types of Developmental Delays in Children

According to pediatric specialists at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, there are several overarching types of developmental delays in children, namely:

  • Cognitive delays in infants can affect their awareness and intellectual functioning, potentially causing learning disabilities that become more apparent when the child goes to school
  • Motor delays can interfere with your child’s ability to use small and large muscle groups, which can affect both their fine motor skills (like holding onto something small or tying their shoes) and gross motor skills (like crawling or rolling over)
  • Language delays or speech delays can limit a child’s ability to understand and identify words or concepts as well as interfere with their ability to communicate and express themselves
  • Social, emotional, or behavioral delays can impact a child’s ability to interact with others since the child may process information and react to their environment in ways that differ from other children their age
  • Global developmental delays or when a child shows delays in multiples areas of development

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Child Developmental Delay Signs and Symptoms

Child developmental delays can have different signs and symptoms at different ages. Some developmental delay symptoms, for example, can become apparent during the newborn’s first 2 months of life.

Other warning signs of developmental delay may not be obvious until the child is between 6 months and 1 year old.

Signs of Developmental Delay in Newborns (2 Months Old and Younger)

From the time a child is born to when they’re 2 months old, there are a few milestones they will typically hit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

2 Months Old

  • Inability to hold their head up or make fluid movements with their limbs
  • Lack of gurgling sounds or babbling
  • Not following objects with their eyes
  • Not looking at their parents
  • Not smiling
  • Not turning their head toward sounds

Signs of Developmental Delays in Infants (By 1 Year Old)

If this sounds like your infant at these ages, your child may be showing warning signs of developmental delays, according to the CDC.

6 Months Old

  • Inability to bring things to their mouth, or pass objects from one hand to another
  • Inability to roll over, either forward or backward
  • Inability to sit without needing support or maintain a sitting position
  • Inability to tell the difference between familiar faces and the faces of strangers
  • Not responding to the sounds they hear or to their own name
  • Not wanting to play with other people, especially their parents

1 Year Old

  • Inability to make basic gestures like waving goodbye or shaking their head “no”
  • Inability to sit up without needing any help or pull themselves up into a standing position
  • Inability to walk while holding on to something like a table or a chair
  • Not crying when their parents leave the room
  • Not handing their parents a book when they want to hear a story
  • Not playing games like “peek-a-boo” or “pat-a-cake”
  • Not putting out a leg or arm when being dressed
  • Not trying to mimic words said to them, and can’t say words like “dada” or “mama”

Signs of Developmental Delay in Babies (18 Months to 4 Years Old)

If babies don’t reach the following developmental milestones by 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, or 4 years of age, they may be showing developmental delay signs, according to the CDC.

18 Months Old

  • Inability to point to an object when they want it
  • Inability to undress themselves, eat with a spoon, or drink from a cup
  • Not copying the actions of others
  • Not having a vocabulary of at least six words
  • Not paying attention when their caregiver either enters or leaves the room
  • Not showing affection to familiar people

2 Years Old

  • Inability to walk up or down stairs while holding onto something
  • Inability to stand on their tiptoes
  • Not knowing how to use common objects like a fork
  • Not repeating words they hear in a conversation
  • Not using simple phrases, such as “eat food”
  • Seeming unsteady when trying to walk

3 Years Old

  • Drooling a great deal
  • Falling down a lot when they try to walk
  • Inability to make eye contact with other people or say single words like “you,” “me,” or “I”
  • Inability to turn pages in a book
  • Not knowing how to work simple puzzles, peg boards or other basic toys
  • Not showing interest in playing with any toys, or playing with other children
  • Speaking unclearly or in ways you can’t understand

4 Years Old

  • Having no interest in games and ignoring other children and adults
  • Inability to jump in place or difficulty following simple commands
  • Inability to remember parts of a story you tell them
  • Inability to scribble without a lot of difficulty
  • Not knowing how to correctly use words such as “you” or “me”
  • Not wanting to sleep, dress themselves, or use the toilet
  • Speaking unclearly

If you think your child may be showing signs of developmental delay caused by an injury at birth, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit to pursue compensation for your child’s injury.

Learn More About Your Options

If you believe your child’s experiencing developmental delays due to a medical mistake, a birth injury lawyer with Sokolove Law can help you understand your legal options.

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Causes of Developmental Delays in Children

Developmental disabilities and other delays in reaching developmental milestones often occur due to something that happened before the baby was born, like a maternal infection, or they could be due to preventable injuries at birth or following delivery.

For instance, a doctor or medical professional may:

  • Pull on the baby’s head during difficult deliveries or improperly use forceps to free the baby from the birth canal, potentially injuring the child’s brachial plexus nerves and causing Erb’s palsy, which can cause motor delays
  • Fail to treat jaundice in a newborn, potentially causing kernicterus, a form of brain damage that can result in hearing loss and cerebral palsy, which can lead to multiple types of developmental delays in children

In many cases, however, the cause of a developmental delay may not be immediately clear, according to the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Our registered nurses can listen to your story and help you understand if anything may have happened during pregnancy or delivery that contributed to your child’s condition. Contact our team today at no cost.

Pursue Compensation for Your Child’s Developmental Delays

Caring for a child with developmental delays and treating the birth injury that caused these delays can cost a great deal of money that many parents simply don’t have. If you notice any of the signs of developmental delay, birth injury lawyers with Sokolove Law may be able to help you pursue compensation that can help cover the costs of your child’s treatment.

Developmental delays in children may occur as a result of medical negligence or malpractice at the time of your child’s birth. Any sort of mistake made by a medical professional — either before, during, or shortly after delivery — can lead to a lifetime of issues.

Sokolove Law has a long track record of success helping families of children affected by birth injuries get compensation. In fact, we’ve recovered over $717 Million for our clients whose children suffered harm due to medical errors at birth.

Learn more about how we may be able to help you today by getting a free case review or calling (800) 995-1212.

Signs of Developmental Delay FAQs

Was my child’s developmental delay caused by a birth injury?

In some cases, medical errors may be to blame for developmental delays in children. A doctor, for example, may use an instrument improperly and cause a birth injury. Other medical professionals may fail to notice problems before birth that could possibly have been corrected but went untreated instead, potentially injuring a child.

Sokolove Law has decades of experience representing families with children who were harmed due to preventable medical mistakes. We have the resources to thoroughly investigate your case and see if a medical error may have contributed to your child’s condition. Get a free case review today to learn more about your options.

When should I be concerned about developmental delays?

The early signs of developmental delay can be noticeable as early as birth. If you have any reason to believe your child has some sort of problem learning, speaking, moving or playing, talk to your doctor immediately.

Children should, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, undergo general developmental screening at 9 months, 8 months, and 30 months old. But you don’t need to wait that long if you have any concerns — talk to your doctor as soon as you can if you suspect something may be wrong. Early intervention can help improve your child’s quality of life in the long run.

What are some signs of developmental delays? 

Developmental delays in children will differ depending on the age of the child, according to the CDC. A newborn, for example, should be able to smile and babble or make gurgling sounds by 2 months old. Most children should be able to name colors and some numbers as well as say first and last names by the age of 4.

If your child isn’t reaching certain milestones that most children can typically do by a certain age, then that could be a sign of a developmental delay. We have registered nurses on staff with decades of labor and delivery experience who can listen to your story and help you understand what may be going on. Contact us today to learn more.

What are some of the symptoms of developmental delay? 

Certain symptoms of developmental delay include trouble with speech or movement as well as having trouble interacting or communicating with other people. They may also include difficulty remembering things or being unable to perform everyday tasks like getting dressed or going to the bathroom without help.

What are the causes of developmental delays in children? 

There are many potential developmental delay causes. Medical negligence or malpractice may contribute to this kind of issue. Doctors can sometimes fail to diagnose and address a problem before birth like an infection, or they may improperly use forceps during delivery, causing a brain injury that can affect the child’s ability to develop at the expected rate. In many cases, the exact cause may not be known until the underlying condition is diagnosed or determined.

When is a milestone considered delayed?

A developmental milestone refers to the specific age when most children are able to accomplish a certain task, like being able to speak or walk. If a child isn’t able to do something by this age, then the milestone is considered to be delayed.

What happens if a baby does not meet milestones? 

If you or your doctor believes your child is showing signs of developmental delays, it may be time for a specialist to perform a thorough evaluation. Specialists include developmental pediatricians, child psychiatrists, child psychologists, child neurologists, and others.

It may take a great deal of money to help a child with developmental delays. Sokolove Law may be able to help you seek the compensation you need for your child’s treatment if medical malpractice or negligence contributed to your child’s condition. Get a free case review today.

Author:Sokolove Law Team
Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: August 26, 2021

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