What to Know About Kids Physical Delays
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

What to Know About Kids Physical Delays

While every baby is different and develops at their own pace, there are moments when parents do—and should—become concerned.

For example, if you’re in a ‘mommy and me’ type class and you notice all the other similarly aged babies making efforts to move towards a toy, but your baby is happily staying put on his/her bottom. Or perhaps your little one shows no desire to crawl (at 8-9 months) or to walk when other children their age (roughly 15 months) are beginning to run. These are all potential signs of a developmental delay. Again, they are reasons to be concerned, but not necessarily alarmed.

As it turns out, 10-15% of preschoolers have a developmental delay. While you may find some comfort in those numbers, they’re no reason to not reach out to your pediatrician with any concerns. In some cases, developmental delays can be a sign of a serious health condition, so it’s important to talk with your child’s pediatrician about them.


Reasons that might cause you to pick up the phone include:

  • My child only turns their head to one side.
  • My child has poor head control.
  • My child exhibits muscle stiffness or floppiness.
  • My child doesn’t roll over.
  • My child shows no interest in crawling.
  • My child can’t stand on their tip toes.
  • My child tires quickly.
  • My child’s feet turn inward.
  • My child appears to trip and fall more than other children their age.

If you notice these, or any other signs of delay, contact your pediatrician to schedule an assessment and discuss physical therapy options.

Offered on the SVMC campus, pediatric physical therapy focuses on range of motion, coordination, balance, strengthening, gross motor skills and movement patterns involving large group muscles used in activities such as crawling, running, and jumping. In weekly therapy sessions with the child and their caregiver, we develop goals for each child based on their specific needs. Using specifically selected activities and exercises, we engage the child—they see it as play—while helping them improve strength and motor skills. Caregivers are also active participants in the program, encouraging the child and learning how each activity contributes to development. Caregivers are also instructed on take-home exercises they can use to further help their child’s progress.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait. The earlier physical therapy is provided, the more likely it is to be effective.

Work with your pediatrician, school, daycare, early Intervention, orthotist for a team approach for your child’s care and ask for a referral to a physical therapist if you notice your child’s motor skills are regressing. 


Susan Altland, PT and Katie Santandera, DPT are pediatric physical therapists at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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