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What are paediatric delayed milestones?

Milestones are the predicted points for when a child reaches a significant stage in their development such as walking or talking. A delayed milestone is when a child has not reached a significant stage at the predicted age.

What causes delayed milestones in children?

There can be many different causes of delayed milestones such as genetic problems, problems during pregnancy or birth and premature birth. Problems during early infancy or childhood such as infection or head injury can also cause delayed milestones. Often there is no identifiable cause.

Mobilising sit to stand exercises with supervision of a neurological physiotherapistAbove: Mobilising sit to stand exercises with supervision of a neurological physiotherapist

What are the symptoms of delayed milestones in children?

There are no specific symptoms to look for but there are signs to look for in the child’s development. There is a normal pattern to a child’s development as shown below. If the child is behind this timeline then they may have delayed milestones. If they do, they will have difficulty learning new skills and/or performing a skill.

Development timeline

6 months
When on front, lift head and chest and use extended arms to support themselves.
Use hands to grasp small objects.
Turns and listens to familiar voice.

12 months
Crawls or shuffles.
Using pincer grip with thumb and index finger.
Responds to own name.

18 months
Walks with feet slightly apart and stops and starts safely.
Can build tower of three blocks after demonstration.
Can hold spoon and get food to mouth.

2 years
Can run and stop and start and avoid obstacles.
Can pick up and place tiny objects accurately and quickly.
Can lift cup and drink and replace cup on table with no spillage.

3 years
Can walk alone on stairs with one foot to each step.
Can cut with toy scissors.
Joins in active play with other children.

4 years
Can walk or run up and down stairs alone.
Can touch each finger with thumb on imitation.
Can use spoon and fork easily and can spread butter with a knife.

What can physiotherapy do to help children with delayed milestones?

Physiotherapy treatment aims to promote a child’s independence and ability to reach physical milestones. Treatment will be specific to a child’s needs, age and abilities and our team of specialist physiotherapists will often use fun games and activities to help promote normal development. We liaise closely with parents, carers and teachers to help them understand the child’s needs and how they can help promote future independence.

The benefits of physiotherapy are:
  • Achievement of physical milestones such as sitting, crawling and standing
  • Improved independence in activities of daily living
  • Improved posture, muscle strength, balance and coordination
  • Improved confidence


Delayed milestones can severely affect a child’s development so it is important to that treatment is used to help a child to reach the right milestones at the right times. Physiotherapy can help to speed up paediatric delayed milestones.

To book an appointment or for more information about paediatric delayed milestones contact us or call 0330 088 7800.

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