Dealing With Walking Delays
As have been mentioned in our previous article, seeing your child’s first steps is definitely going to be an exciting moment. However, when that moment doesn’t come in the time you expect to happen, all that excitement can turn into anxiety. Here, we will look at the issue of delayed walking developments and how to deal with it.
A few things about walking
In the previous article, we gave a detailed overview of the various milestones associated with walking. Every child follows this sequence of events. However, when they would actually reach a particular milestone would vary from children to children.
For instance, while your kid might learn how to sit upright earlier than other kids, he might begin pulling himself to a standing position. This is because he will be too busy perfecting the new skill that he won’t focusing on another immediately.
Also, note that there are several other factors that can affect the pace at which your child learns to walk. For instance, if he is larger than average, he might end up walking later, as he needs to build more strength to get his larger bulk upright. On the other hand, if your young one has older siblings, he will be motivated to walk earlier by imitating them.
Thus, you don’t need to fret when your kid seems to be developing slower than others, as long as his walking development is within the expected time ranges. Also, keep in mind that, while you can encourage your child, you can’t speed up his pace, so don’t attempt to do so, as this might only stress him.
It is also worth noting that how early or late your baby starts to walk can sometimes indicate his personality. Those who learn to walk early tend to be more of the risk taker type and would want to try a lot of things the instance they know how. On the other hand, late walkers are of the more cautious type, as they wouldn’t go all out on an activity unless they are very sure they can do it.
However, when the delay in walking goes well beyond the recommended time frame, then is certainly something to be concerned about. So, what causes such?
Often these prolonged delays may be indications of motor-related disorders. Two such conditions are hypotonia and hypertonia. In hypotonia, also known as the floppy baby syndrome, your child exhibits low muscle tone. Hence, he will look as if his arms and legs constantly droop and are unable to hold flexed ligaments. Sufferers may also display uncontrolled spastic head movements and might have difficulty in feeding.
Hypertonia is the reverse situation, where he shows too much muscle tone. Here, he suffers from uncontrollable spasms and stiff muscles. Both hypotonia and hypertonia might lead to hip problems which can contribute to walking delays.
Problems specifically affecting the legs and feet can also contribute to delays in learning how to walk. For example, while bowed knees are present in babies, they usually fade away by age 2. However, when they don’t, this might lead to knee problems that can hamper walking. They may also be an indication of rickets, a disorder brought about by vitamin D deficiency.
A delay in walking can also indicate mental problems such as Down’s syndrome. In this case, the delay will be accompanied by other noticeable deficiencies that can help you spot the problem. If you spot these, it would be best to get in touch with a specialist as soon as possible.
Dealing with delayed walking
So, when do you consider a delay in walking as something to be worried about? According to doctors, if your child doesn’t walk yet by the time he reaches 18 months, then it should be considered a red flag. Your child’s pediatrician will then conduct several tests to determine the possible cause of the delay.
In the case of delays caused by abnormal muscular development, your child’s doctor will look at it in the context of other motor skills. From there, he might recommend that your child undergoes therapy to strengthen his muscles and enhance his coordination.
If your child has stiff or floppy arms, the doctor will refer you to a pediatric neurologist. On the other hand, if the walking delay is accompanied by other issues like language impairment, he will send you to a developmental pediatrician. In more severe cases, surgery might be required.
Once the cause have been determined and the appropriate measures have been taken, though, the road to your kid being able to normally walk is still going to be a long one, with all the therapy to get him into shape. You can help your kid endure all of these by providing constant encouragement and support.