When Should I Talk to A Pediatrician About My Baby’s Development?


When to call your dr

My worst attribute as a mother is my knack for finding things to worry about. I’ve been known to call the pediatrician’s office on the regular, and they’ve always been very supportive of my sometimes ridiculous concerns. However, since I’ve worked as a pediatric physical therapist for 11 years longer than I’ve been a mom, I’ve realized a few things about how parents might begin to worry if they feel their child isn’t doing what they think they should. It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with all the developmental charts, recommendations and activities that are available. Most moms I know tend to wonder and worry if their child is on track developmentally.

As a pediatric physical therapist, I’ve compiled a list of skills that I like to see in children from birth to age 3. 

By 3 Months:

  • lays on forearms with head erect while on tummy
  • brings hands to mouth and hands open and close easily
  • baby is able to easily kick arms and legs
  • baby is able to orient to faces during play and feeding
  • baby quiets or smiles in respose to voice interaction
  • baby is able to suck and swallow well during feedings

By 6 Months:

  • prop sits
  • rolls to and from tummy
  • bear weight through legs with support
  • reaches for and transfer toys from 1 hand to another
  • babbles using consonant sounds
  • begins to show interest in food

By 9 Months:

  • sits to play with a straight back with a toy without support
  • rocks back and forth on hands and knees
  • imitates simple play activities such as pat table, etc.
  • uses both hands to explore toys
  • recognizes and responds to own name
  • reaches to be picked up
  • vocalizes back and forth several times
  • eats thicker purees and mashed table foods when fed from a spoon

By 12 Months:

  • pulls to stand at furniture
  • cruises along furniture
  • transitions in and out of a sitting position
  • craws on hands and knees
  • claps hands spontaneously or in imitation
  • uses thumb and pointer finger to pick up small items during feeding or playtime
  • explores toys using mouth
  • meaningfully says “mama” or “dada” spontaneously instead of imitation
  • uses fingers to eat a variety of table foods

By 18 Months:

  • walks independently inside and outside
  • squats to pick up items without losing balance
  • eats an increasing variety of food
  • responds to yes and no questions by shaking head or nodding
  • uses up to 20 words spontaneously
  • points at familiar objects and people in pictures or books
  • maintains good eye contact

By 24 Months:

  • uses at least 50 words spontaneously
  • names objects and pictures without prompts
  • consistently imitates new words
  • begins to use 2 word phrases spontaneously
  • begins to pretend play
  • jumps up from the floor

By 3 Years:

  • most speech is understood by caregiver and other adults
  • asks “what” and “where” questions throughout the daily routine
  • uses 3+ word sentences
  • understandings “why” questions from the caregiver
  • plays with other children using pretend play
  • can sit to listen to books
If your child isn’t quite doing these age appropriate activities, it’s ok. Every child develops at their own pace. A family has to decide for themselves if they are interested in pursuing some extra help to address concerns that a mom may have! I always recommend making a list of your concerns to take to your child’s next doctor visit. It’s hard to remember everything, as sometimes doctor’s visits can be stressful. If I am out and about and think of a question I want to discuss with the doctor, I often text myself.
Additionally, there are several free developmental screening available locally! If you live in Sedgwick county and have concerns about your birth-age 3 child, contact Rainbows United at 945-7117, ext. 134. If you live in Butler county and have concerns about your child birth-age 3, contact Bright Beginnings at 316-320-1342. If you live in the Wichita Public School District and you have concerns about your child’s development and they are ages 3-5, you can contact Screen For Success at 267-3535. If you live in Butler county and have concerns about your child 3-5, contact Count Your Kid In at 775-6904. If you live in Sedgwick county outside of the Wichita school district, contact Count your Kid In at 794-8641.
I have found several websites that are helpful in helping parents understand what skills a child should be doing at certain ages. Visit Pathways and Zero to Three for more information about what to expect as your child grows!
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Amy is a lifelong Wichita-area resident, with the exception of her college and grad school years. Amy has worked as a pediatric physical therapist for a local non-profit organization during her 20 year career. She married Brett, a youth pastor turned special education teacher and coach, and can be seen supporting Andover Middle School with her two boys, aged 9 & 8, only 18 months apart! They keep her occupied in athletic activities, knee-deep in Lego's & up-to-date on superheroes. When she isn't busy momming, she likes to work out before the sun comes up!