During my son’s one-year exam with the pediatrician, he happened to crawl in the exam room.
All of his crawling behaviors were normal, except that he had a funny thing he did with his leg as he moved around the room. He looked kind of like an injured dog trying to walk.
Since my son wasn’t in any pain, this odd movement didn’t initially concern my husband or me as he began crawling at the expected age and was able to get from place to place in the normal amount of time. His form looked funny as he crawled, but that seemed like a picky parent concern to us, so we thought we would wait to mention our observation at his yearly checkup and see what the doctor thought.
Looking back, I’m so thankful the doctor was able to see this funny crawl. That doctor’s appointment set off a series of events that ultimately led to my child working with therapists in physical, occupational, and speech and language therapy.
This is why those conversations with your pediatrician are crucial. Mentioning or showing a video of a concern you have will either relieve you of that concern, or validate it and get your child on the road to early interventions.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of behaviors to be on the lookout for since this could be an indication of a greater challenge for your child.
1 | Picky eating
Does your kid not even attempt to eat something? Is dinnertime a source of frustration for you? Picky eating can include situations or behaviors where your child only eats a limited type or temperature of food, refusing vegetables and/or fruit, absolute refusal to try new foods, and has a preference for foods with no texture (creamy carbohydrates like ice cream, crackers, and fruit snacks, are typically preferred in our household).
2 | Constipation
Constipation can be a sign that your child is not eating a balanced diet, even though you may be doing everything you can to get your child to eat.
3 | Easily upset by messy clothes
Drops of water on your child’s clothes, glue on their hands, and a constant need to wash their hands can be signs of sensory disregulation in your child. While every kid can be upset at some time or other, take a moment to observe your child when they are near other children doing the same activity. Are the other kids upset by the glue on their hands? It would be worth mentioning to your pediatrician if you are often finding your child is the only one upset.
4 | Crashing into objects on purpose
If your kid likes to crash into things this could be a sign they are sensory-seeking. Take note of the times they crash into things, often these kids are not typically hurt by these incidences so they may not be on your radar.
If this is a concern prepare a list of the times and places they crash. If it is only in one setting, like the park, they may just be blowing off excess energy. If you’re finding it’s at the grocery store, your house, grandma’s, and church, you might want to say something to your doctor.
1 | Picky eating
When my daughter (both my kids received early interventions) was assessed for occupational therapy due to sensory regulation issues, her picky eating came up as a concern. Picky eating can have a sensory component or can be caused by weak mouth muscles. This led to a speech evaluation and therapy for my daughter.
2 | Repeating words or phrases
Don’t mix this one up with stuttering. My daughter received speech therapy as a tot, which was a surprise as she was a chatterbox, clearly articulating every phrase uttered about a wide variety of things. One area that stood out as a concern was that she would repeat a question or comment two or three times. For example, when asking to go to the library she would say:
“Can we go to the . . . Can we go to the . . . Can we go to the library?”
Being so close to her every day, I grew accustomed to this way of speaking and didn’t notice that my daughter struggled with a word-finding issue, not being able to think of the word she wanted to say.
If your child seems to struggle with finding that one word, or it seems like words are always on the tip of their tongue, take note of the times and places this may happen. Is it only occurring when they are really excited about their favorite toy? Maybe it’s because they’re tired. Either way, discussing a possible speech evaluation might be worthwhile.
Physical movement issues
1 | “W” sitting
If your child sits with their butt in between their legs on the floor, they are sitting in a “W” position. This is not a good position to constantly sit in as it puts unnecessary pressure on their hips. “W” sitting is also a sign that the child’s core may not be supporting their body as it should. Telling your kid to change their sitting position is a good start, but keep note of how often he or she sits in this way.
2 | Later walking
Both of my children started walking at 15 months, which is the outer limit of the “normal” age range. On its own, this was not a concern, but since my children had other delays in their development as well, it was information that I made sure to pass on to the doctor.
3 | Buddha Belly
Little baby bellies are adorable. As your little one reaches various physical development milestones, all areas of their body should be coordinating together, causing the cute little belly to go away. If your child continues to have a pronounced belly, it could be a sign that their core abdominal muscles aren’t working in coordination with the rest of their body. This one would most likely show up as a concern after two years of age.
Each of these concerns on their own are most likely little quirks of your child. If, as you read through this list, you’re finding that a number of the issues mentioned describe your child, jot a few notes and take some pictures to share with your child’s pediatrician.
At the very least the doctor can give you an explanation or share ideas for you to work on at home. If there’s something to be concerned about, though, they will send you on to the proper specialist for an evaluation.
My children have received services from a variety of therapists for years. I am so thankful for the support of these individuals because my children love the individual therapy time to play on some amazing equipment and I’ve received many wonderful and helpful tips to better support my children as unique individuals.