What Parents Should Know About Developmental Delay

The first smile, first word, first step. These are moments of pride for parents worldwide. But what happens when your child fails to meet an important milestone? What if your little one is still struggling to sit up or roll over when every other babyat nursery school can easily accomplish these tasks? The first thing to remember is that children develop at different rates. What one accomplishes at eight months, another might not achieve till 13 months, and yet both children are developmentally normal. However, there are times when not hitting a milestone within the normal time frame can indicate a developmental delay. Here’s what Calgary parents should know.

Developmental delay defined


A single setback in achieving milestones by the normal age range doesn’t usually indicate a developmental delay. Rather, for a child to be given such a diagnosis, there must be a substantial falling behind their peers in one or more areas.

Disability vs. delay

Developmental disabilities shouldn’t be confused with developmental delays. The former is a long-term issue that can be improved upon but not eradicated, whereas the latter is often overcome with intervention. In other words, there’s a good chance that once a child with a developmental delay catches up to his or her peers, there will be no further difficulties.

The 5 developmental areas that may become delayed

Developmental delays can happen in one or more of the five key areas of development. However, if there are setbacks in two or more domains, then this is called global developmental delay, a diagnosis that can indicate much larger problems such as a learning disability or medical problem. The five areas of development are:



  • Fine and gross motor development. Includes use of the hands and fingers, as well hand-eye coordination, balancing, walking and other movements. 
  • Social-emotional development. Involves learning to successfully interact with others by developing empathy, recognizing emotions and regulating behaviours. 
  • Speech and language development. Characterized by the ability to use and understand language.
  • Cognitive development. This area rules cognitive processes such as thinking, remembering, reasoning, learning and solving problems. 
  • Activities of daily living. Includes everyday tasks we need to perform such as eating, dressing, bathing and grooming. 

If you think your child has a developmental delay

If you believe your child has a developmental delay, the person you need to speak to first is their pediatrician. A physician will be able to evaluate their overall developmental progress, make recommendations and refer you to specialists. It’s best to maintain a solution-based outlook and to remember that more often than not, when detected early developmental delays end up being only minor setbacks that are eventually overcome.

Partnering with parents in developmental surveillance

Parents and educators both have a role to play in monitoring development in children. At A Child’s View Learning Centre, our programs are geared towards nurturing development in all key areas. Our educators constantly survey how each child is performing and inform you when your child experiences setbacks. To find out more about our child care services and programs in Calgary, simply contact us to set up a meeting or schedule a tour.
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