Worried about Developmental Milestones

Archived Q&A and Reviews

What is the Normal Range?

(anonymous) Feb 1998

My daughter is reaching some milestones later than other kids because of health problems she has experienced. Consequently, we've landed up being around lots of kids who have delays of one kind or another for one reason or another. We've also landed up hearing a lot about kids who experienced delays reaching milestones, but who were and are just fine.

Some kids' delays are simply part of the normal range. The range of time it takes kids to reach certain milestones is much larger in normal, healthy kids than some books might lead you to believe. For example, if I told a group of parents my daughter didn't walk or crawl by the time she was 14 months, invariably some parents would say the same thing was true for their healthy normal kid, who landed up being just fine, walking when he or she was good and ready and so on. One of our friends has a kid who is developing motor skills and speech at about the same pace as our daughter. Both the kids are delayed in some areas according to some books, but our friend's kid has absolutely no health problems; this is just the RIGHT, healthy, and normal developmental pace for that kid.

Nevertheless, I think it is worthwhile to try and figure out whether what is happening with your child is within this broad normal range or not,particularly if it worries you. Your peace of mind about your son can be important for your own health and for your relationship with your child.

If you are concerned, I recommend that you get a second opinion and/or a referral to one or more specialists that your doctor considers appropriate. This can sometimes help eliminate worries or, at least, let you know whether to be concerned or not. There is no reason to wait if you are worried. If all is well, the worst that will happen is you'll have wasted an hour or two of your time, but if something is wrong, it is important to find out as early as you can. Some of the problems that cause delays can be helped considerably by EARLY intervention of various kinds.

I recommend that you get a really excellent pediatrician to give you a second opinion. There is no harm in getting a second opinion and it may put your mind at ease. Go to someone who has seen a lot of different babies with all variety of problems AND normalcies.

If you are interested in doing this but don't know who to see, I would very very strongly recommend the practice that we go to. It is the pediatric practice at Mount Zion in San Francisco. Dr. Jane Anderson is fantastic. She figured out what was happening with our baby very early on and we've been able to intervene early with remarkably better results than if we had found out later. Dr. Bill DeGoff, in the same practice, is also outstanding. Both are UCSF faculty, I believe, and they've seen a lot, so they really know what is within the BROAD range of normal and what isn't.