Article written by Baby Physio for Smallish Magazine
Child development follows a milestones chart which helps us to follow the evolution and to spot if the child has any delay. But this chart shows us the development steps of an average child. It is then important to tell parents that not all children develop at the same pace and that depending on his environment a child could develop his movement faster or slower than the average.
If a child does not walk at 16 months parents should not worry as long as their child has another way of moving such as crawling or walking on all fours and should wait a couple of months. If the child has no way of movement it is then important to check if there are neurological issues.
The main reasons behind late walking could be a neurological issue such as cerebral palsy, a delay in motor maturation associated to a mild hypotonia, or more commonly an environmental lack of stimulation.
For any of these three reasons the key word is “stimulation”. It is first necessary to assess the baby to find out what is the reason for the delay and which milestones he can or can not achieve.
Once we have this information, the paediatric physiotherapist, with the help of the parents, can start to stimulate the weakness of the baby by showing him the good way to reach the next milestone. We will guide the baby through his development by doing ludic stimulating exercises and games that the parents should repeat between sessions.
We will also teach parents how to adapt his environment for the baby to be more stimulated. One of the adaptations could be to put baby’s toys higher to force him to use and strengthen his leg muscles.
These exercises and stimulations have to be repeated until the baby is able to walk by himself.