Paediatric milestones are relatively different for every unique baby. Most babies reach certain milestones at similar ages. However, it isn’t unusual for healthy babies to ball behind while others race ahead.
During the first year of life, babies learn, grow and develop at an amazing speed. Much of that learning comes from moving their bodies. Unless you are a trained infant health professional it is difficult to identify if your baby is developing normally, what milestones they should be meeting, and whether they’re on track to meet them.
A paediatric physiotherapist can help your baby reach motor milestones, and ensure they are developing in a way that best supports them. The following are some reasons why parents visit a paediatric physiotherapist.
It is important to note that paediatric motor milestones are presented on a broad spectrum. Therefore, you will find varying guidelines for when there should be concern. In general, if your baby does not tolerate tummy time by month 3, is not sitting by month 9, pulling to stand by a year, or walking by month 18, you should seek a paediatric physiotherapist for an assessment (1).
Muscle tone is the muscle’s resistance to movement. Typical muscle tone can vary from less resistance to more resistance. When a baby has low muscle tone, learning to activate their muscles effectively can be more difficult. Therefore, there may be a delay in paediatric motor milestones. A paediatric physiotherapist can assess the muscle tone, and provide exercises specific to help strengthen their core, progress mobility, and ensure the baby’s muscles are developing evenly (2).
Flat Head Syndrome
Flat head syndrome is very common. The scientific terminology are plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. A baby’s skull bones don’t fuse until around 1 year old. Pressure shifts the head shape if it is constant on one side of the baby’s head. A paediatric physiotherapist can assess your baby’s neck movements, and offer exercise recommendations to help reduce pressure on their head (3).
Preferring One Side
You may notice your baby favouring to look to one side, while resisting to turn to the other. This condition is called torticollis, and is often the result of in-womb positioning. Uncomfortable positioning in the womb can cause shortening of one side of the neck muscles. This condition often goes hand in hand with flat head syndrome. A paediatric physiotherapist is very important to manage torticollis, and will use both stretches and strengthening exercises to correct the imbalance (4).
Congenital Diagnosis or Birth Injury
A paediatric physiotherapist is integral in providing exercises to strengthen and stretch injuries the baby suffered during birth. Early physiotherapy intervention is extremely important for children with a congenital diagnosis such as cerebral palsy, achondroplasia, Down syndrome, Pradar-Willi syndrome, or any condition that might delay early motor milestones. Though physiotherapy cannot cure these conditions, it can help the child lead a healthy and happy life (5).
Did you know that you do not require a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist, even one who specializes in paediatric treatment? However, we at Fairview Physiotherapy and Rehab Centre do provide direct billing, and some insurance companies do require it. We recommend you check with your personal provider. If you choose to pay out of pocket, there is nothing hindering you from making the first step and schedule an appointment. Our clinic has a physiotherapist on staff who specializes in paediatric treatment, and welcome any and all questions if you desire further information.