Little girl walking on tiptoes - possible autism sign
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Developmental delay warning signs to look for in babies, toddlers & preschoolers

Many people expect typical child development, but what are the red flags — developmental delay warning signs — you should be watching for?

Here’s a look at some of the most common signs that may suggest your child has some sort of developmental disability or delay — from autism to speech delays to intellectual disabilities.

They have been compiled from multiple sources, and also include suggestions from parents with children on the autistic spectrum. Symptoms may overlap at various ages, so use these only as general guidelines.

Of course, if you have any concerns about your child, remember that this is not medical advice, and be sure to seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

Age 2 months: Baby developmental delay warning signs
  1. Doesn’t respond to loud sounds
  2. Doesn’t watch things as they move
  3. Doesn’t smile at people
  4. Doesn’t bring hands to mouth
  5. Can’t hold head up when pushing up when on tummy
Age 4 months: Baby developmental delay warning signs
  1. Doesn’t watch things as they move
  2. Doesn’t smile at people
  3. Can’t hold head steady
  4. Doesn’t coo or make sounds
  5. Doesn’t bring things to mouth
  6. Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a hard surface
  7. Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions
Age 6 months: Baby developmental delay warning signs
  1. Doesn’t try to get things that are in reach
  2. Shows no affection for caregivers
  3. Doesn’t respond to sounds around him
  4. Has difficulty getting things to mouth
  5. Doesn’t make vowel sounds (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”)
  6. Doesn’t roll over in either direction
  7. Doesn’t laugh or make squealing sounds
  8. Seems very stiff, with tight muscles
  9. Seems very floppy, like a rag doll
Age 9 months: Baby developmental delay warning signs
  1. Doesn’t bear weight on legs with support
  2. Doesn’t sit with help
  3. Doesn’t babble (“mama”, “baba”, “dada”)
  4. Doesn’t play any games involving back-and-forth play
  5. Doesn’t respond to own name
  6. Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people
  7. Doesn’t look where you point
  8. Doesn’t transfer toys from one hand to the other
Age 1: Baby developmental delay warning signs
  1. Doesn’t crawl
  2. Can’t stand when supported
  3. Doesn’t search for things that she sees you hide.
  4. Doesn’t say single words like “mama” or “dada”
  5. Doesn’t learn gestures like waving or shaking head
  6. Doesn’t point to things
  7. Loses skills he once had
Age 18 months: Developmental delay warning signs
  1. Doesn’t point to show things to others
  2. Can’t walk
  3. Doesn’t know what familiar things are for
  4. Doesn’t copy others
  5. Doesn’t gain new words
  6. Doesn’t have at least 6 words
  7. Doesn’t notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns
  8. Loses skills he once had
Age 2: Developmental delay warning signs
  1. Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “drink milk”)
  2. Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon
  3. Doesn’t copy actions and words
  4. Doesn’t follow simple instructions
  5. Doesn’t walk steadily
  6. Walks on tiptoes
  7. Loses skills she once had
Age 3: Developmental delay warning signs
  1. Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
  2. Drools or has very unclear speech
  3. Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handles)
  4. Doesn’t speak in sentences
  5. Doesn’t understand simple instructions
  6. Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
  7. Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
  8. Doesn’t make eye contact
  9. Loses skills he once had
Age 4: Developmental delay warning signs
  1. Cannot jump in place
  2. Has trouble scribbling
  3. Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
  4. Ignores other children, or doesn’t respond to people outside the family
  5. Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet
  6. Walks on tiptoes
  7. Doesn’t shake head for yes or no
  8. Can’t retell a favorite story
  9. Doesn’t follow 3-part commands
  10. Does not understand “same” and “different”
  11. Doesn’t use “me” and “you” correctly
  12. Speech is not clear
  13. Loses skills he once had
Age 5: Developmental delay warning signs

Talk to the doctor if your child:

  1. Does not show a wide range of emotions
  2. Shows extreme behavior (unusually fearful, aggressive, shy or sad)
  3. Unusually withdrawn and not active
  4. Is easily distracted, and has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes
  5. Does not respond to people, or responds only superficially
  6. Can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
  7. Doesn’t play a variety of games and activities
  8. Cannot give first and last name
  9. Doesn’t use plurals or past tense properly
  10. Does not talk about daily activities or experiences
  11. Does not draw pictures
  12. Can’t brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help
  13. Loses skills he or she once had
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