When does my baby need physiotherapy?

The first year of a baby’s life is a whirlwind of change and development.

In one short year, babies go from being completely dependent on mom and dad for everything, to being on the move and chattering away, with feelings, thoughts and ideas of their own.

But at what point do you need to worry about your baby’s gross motor development and whether or not to bring them to see a professional?

In the past, parents were often encouraged to rather “wait and see” when it came to the development of their baby, even when babies were not meeting their milestones within normal ranges.

While it’s important to realise that there is a spectrum when it comes to development (in other words, babies develop at their own pace), it’s also important not to leave it too long and to rather have a delay or a concern checked on at physiotherapy or by another health care professional.

This is because babies grow and develop at such a fast rate, and their brains are forming new neural connections all the time. It’s easier to intervene with physiotherapy at an early stage, for example, when baby is struggling with tummy time, than to intervene months later when baby is not able to sit or crawl because there are so many opportunities to create those new neural pathways.

Here are some things to look out for according to age:

0-3 months

  • A head that’s always to one side
  • No grasp reflex
  • No smile
  • Difficulty tracking and turning head side to side
  • Not bringing hands to mouth and midline

4-6 months

  • No head control
  • Not reaching
  • Not kicking, or only kicking with one side
  • Excessive floppiness and stiffness

7-9 months

  • Not able to sit
  • Not able to roll
  • Not able to sit up from tummy time
  • Poor balance in sitting

10-12 months

  • Not pulling to stand
  • Not crawling
  • Legs together in standing

If your baby is displaying any of these worrying signs, don’t panic! There are so many professionals out there to help you. Reach out to your local paediatric physio or bring it up with your paed at your next appointment.

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