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Recognizing Developmental Delays in Children

Social and Emotional Developmental Delays in Children continued...

Warning signs of social or emotional delays. Contact your child's doctor if your child has any of the following signs at the age that’s indicated. In addition, watch for any loss of skills that have already been learned.

By 3 months, contact the doctor if your child:

  • does not smile at people
  • does not pay attention to new faces, or seems frightened by them

By 7 months, contact the doctor if your child:

  • refuses to cuddle
  • shows no affection for parents or caregivers
  • shows no enjoyment around people
  • cannot be comforted at night (after 5 months)
  • does not smile without prompting (by 5 months)
  • does not laugh or squeal (by 6 months)
  • shows no interest in games of peek-a-boo (by 8 months)

By 1 year, contact the doctor if your child:

  • shows no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or facial expressions (at 9 months)
  • shows no back-and-forth gestures, such as waving, reaching, or pointing

 

Cognitive Developmental Delays in Children

Problems with thinking, or cognitive delays, may occur due to one or more of these reasons:

  • genetic defects
  • significant medical problems soon after birth
  • exposure to something harmful in the environment, such as a toxin

Possible causes. Causes of cognitive delays include:

  • a wide range of different learning disabilities
  • exposure to alcohol or toxins before birth or afterward, including lead poisoning
  • institutionalization or neglect during infancy or early childhood
  • Down syndrome and other genetic disorders
  • pervasive developmental disorder
  • severe newborn medical problems

Types of treatment for cognitive delays. As with most types of developmental delays, early treatment can make a big difference in the progress your child makes. Educational intervention can help your child develop specific cognitive skills. Educators and therapists may also recommend specific steps you can take at home to help your child.

Warning signs of cognitive delays. Contact your child's doctor if your child has any of the following signs at the age that's indicated. In addition, watch for any loss of skills that have already been learned.

By 1 year, contact the doctor if your child:

  • does not search for objects that are hidden while he or she watches
  • does not use gestures, such as waving
  • does not point to objects or pictures

By 2 years, contact the doctor if your child:

  • does not know the function of common objects, such as a hairbrush, telephone, or spoon
  • does not follow simple instructions
  • does not imitate actions or words

Remember: There is a wide range of normal development in children. Most developmental delays in children are not serious and children eventually catch up. Even children who do have serious delays can make big improvements when treatment begins as early as possible. If you have any doubts, talk to your child's health care provider.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on June 27, 2012

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