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Milestone Worries

It's finally Spring!

As a mother of a child with developmental delays, I am often asked the question: “When should I worry that my baby isn’t _______ yet?” 

Truthfully, I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as worried about a certain timeline. Of course, there are always instances in which there is a diagnosis or a greater issue, so be sure to voice any concerns to your pediatrician. But, even as a special needs mom (or maybe because I’m a special needs mom), I try to focus on mini milestones or the progress that is being made. Maybe your child isn’t yet walking, but they’re starting to pull up on objects or they’ve started sitting up assisted and that’s amazing! It’s possible that a child struggling to reach a milestone may just need some help getting there, and that changes nothing about who they are as people. Because of this, my answer usually shifts away from the worry of a milestone not yet reached, and towards a solution.

            “I would just pay attention to…”
            “Have you tried offering support (in this way)?”
            “I have a great contact that I can put you in touch with to answer your questions about this!”

In my not-at-all professional experience, it’s less about teaching the skill itself, but more about supporting a child figuring out how to progress. For example, you can’t teach a child how to sit up on their own by saying “Just sit with your legs in front and your torso straight up…” but you can focus on exercises to build core strength. This is where, for our family, physical therapy has been so beneficial.

Flynn has been receiving physical therapy for almost a year and a half and for most of that time, he has gone to the Center for Physical Therapy in Wappingers. In the beginning couple of months, he was receiving sessions at home but, because he’s always loved adventure – even before he was mobile, going to a center worked better for us. Throughout his time there, they’ve focused on building his strength and he’s learned to sit independently, crawl, walk, and run.

When we first started PT, I had a lot of questions about what they would even do with a baby that could barely hold his own head up.
If he can’t move around, what exactly are we going to do there? Won’t this be a waste of time?
It absolutely has not been a waste of time, not for a moment. Physical therapy is not all vast movement, it’s about building strength so, when he wasn’t mobile, he worked a lot on the exercise ball. We even got one at home to continue our practices on our days away from the center. Even balancing (with help) on the ball can help someone with low muscle tone develop, core strength! And as time has gone on, the exercises have changed, but the focus has remained the same: build up those muscles.

I am often asked: “When should I worry that my baby isn’t _______ yet?” and if you are a parent that has this question, I send you a virtual hug and urge you not to put all of your energy into worrying about one milestone. The timing of your child’s abilities does not define them as a person, nor does their need for extra help. Make sure to make notes of all concerns as they arise and discuss them with the pediatrician, who will be able to offer resources for additional support, if needed. There’s also a whole community out here for you whenever you need us!
Underestimated Strength is a collection of posts all about our journey through life as we navigate preemie parenting after the NICU. You can read my posts here every Tuesday! Also, feel free to follow me on Instagram, where I speak freely about our story and advocacy.
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