What should I do if I suspect my toddler has a motor skills delay? Health & Development

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When a child isn't hitting motor skills milestones when expected, many parents wonder if their little one just needs a little more time or if it's a problem that needs intervention. See what a pediatrician and other moms recommend doing when you start seeing signs of a motor skills delay.

Look for Red Flags

"There are late walkers, not making their first steps until 18 months to 2 years -- that gets my attention. It would also be a concern if a child is older than 12 months and having trouble picking up small objects. All kids this age are clumsy, so it's hard to be descriptive about this. But for parents, it's a red flag if any child is losing milestones -- for example, before they could pick up Cheerios with two fingers, and now they're raking them with the whole hand or dropping them. A loss...

"There are late walkers, not making their first steps until 18 months to 2 years -- that gets my attention. It would also be a concern if a child is older than 12 months and having trouble picking up small objects. All kids this age are clumsy, so it's hard to be descriptive about this. But for parents, it's a red flag if any child is losing milestones -- for example, before they could pick up Cheerios with two fingers, and now they're raking them with the whole hand or dropping them. A loss of motor milestones needs to be evaluated by a pediatrician.

"A great place to start is the pediatrician's office. Most have good relationships with specially trained folks that can be instrumental in helping correct some delay." -- Christina Johns, MD, MEd, FAAP, senior medical adviser, PM Pediatrics, Lake Success, NY

Get an Evaluation

"Look into early intervention programs in your state. In our area, they will do a free evaluation if therapies are necessary. It is income based, and many qualify for assistance."

Ear Problems Can Affect Skills

"We ended up getting tubes in my son's ears. Getting him checked was the best decision ever! He was getting frequent earaches that were affecting his hearing and motor skills. We saw an immediate improvement [after the tubes]."

Therapy Can Help

"My son's pediatrician referred him to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy."

Progress Is Possible

"We talked to my daughter's pediatrician. We were referred to Early On [a local program providing intervention services]. She is still in this program. She loves it and continually makes progress."

Special Programs Can Work

"We had concern about my son's motor skills, and we put him in a 'mothers' day out' preschool program. He's 2½ and he has developed so much!"

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.