I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before or not, but my daughter was born via emergency C-section at 36 weeks.  In the occupational therapy world this means that until she is 2 years old, whenever I look at her development, I am supposed to ‘adjust’ her age. For example, when she was chronologically 9 months old, developmentally she was 8 months.  That extra month that she was supposed to have spent in the womb is taken into consideration whenever I look at when she is reaching developmental milestones.

Now I am going to admit to something here…even though I tell my clients that each child is their own individual and that ‘norms’ are just a reference of age range where a milestone may be reached, I did the one thing that EVERY mother does…I started comparing my daughter’s development to the development of her peers in her play groups.

Why was one boy that was only 1 week older than my daughter already walking at 12 months and my daughter wasn’t even close? It’s something I know not to do, but honestly, I couldn’t help myself. I was comparing my daughter to every other child I saw that was close in age.

If I step back and look at the scenario through a professional lens, I know that age ranges occur because some kids reach the milestone early, while some reach it later.  Typically each gross motor milestone (sitting, crawling, pulling to stand, walking) has an age range of 2-4 months.  For example, a child will typically walk anywhere between 12-15 months.

In my daughter’s case, and in the case of any child born premature, I had to adjust that age to meet her developmental stage.  This means that my daughter would most likely begin walking between 13-16 months.  And wouldn’t you know it, she followed her developmental path right on cue and took her first steps at 15 months, 14 months adjusted.

Being a developmental professional can really be a nuisance at times.   Yes my daughter was walking, and to anyone else, the way she was walking looked fine.  But I knew that she was not walking in the correct motoric pattern.  In fact, she moved her hips the same funny way when she was crawling as she did when she started walking.  Every child begins teetering and moving side to side, but my daughter had a very unique way of taking steps.  I really can’t explain it, but I knew, as an occupational therapist, that she needed a little physical therapy.

Luckily I have that at my disposal and my daughter began coming to my clinic to see my PT.  Did she NEED physical therapy? It wasn’t a necessity…she wasn’t 18 months and not even close to pulling to stand…but she was moving in an atypical pattern.  And I know that early intervention is key.  The quicker I can address the situation, the quicker it can be remedied.

So what does this all mean? Should you be concerned if your child is not walking at 16 months? Well, it’s a little more involved than that.  Are they pulling to stand?  Are they cruising?  Are they at all interested in moving? Have they started crawling? What does your pediatrician have to say about it?

If you’re ever concerned or wondering, make an appointment with your local pediatric physical therapist.  An evaluation can never hurt.  What’s the worst that can happen?  They say your child needs physical therapy? Then you went to the right place.  🙂