Infant Developmental Red Flags

Infants will reach developmental milestones all in good time. That is why there are windows put forth by pediatric experts that span months versus a specific age that infants should be demonstrating that they are on track developmentally. But what this means is that if those developmental milestones have not been reached in those windows, then a conversation is warranted with a pediatrician to determine if what infants are experiencing is a developmental delay to worry about or something just to monitor. This is why knowing the developmental red flags for infants can help parents recognize immediately if a problem is afoot or not.


As babies age, they build on their developmental milestones consistently. It is important that infants continue to develop as the months go by so that they do not fall behind. This is why questions are asked at well-baby check-s about what babies have done physically, shown emotionally, and how well they are eating so that doctors can get a gauge on how the development is progressing. And if there are glaring signs that babies are not where they need to be, then those issues can be addressed at the first signs. Because, the sooner that intervention is received, the better the chances of helping babies catch up and/or diagnosing them with a condition. Something that will only help them succeed versus parents choosing to ignore the signs and hope that infants developmentally catch up on their own.

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Here are developmental red flags for infants by age.

Red Flags For Infants 0 To 3 Months Old

During the first several months of life, babies are working on strengthening their muscles, interacting with their parents, and responding to the world they live in. When any of these areas do not seem to be progressing from month to month, there may be some issues for parents to discuss with pediatricians.

According to The Children’s Leaguesome developmental red flags for infants from zero to three months of age include:

  • No response to sudden noises that occur near infants
  • Objects that pass in front of babies are not tracked with their eyes
  • Babies do not smile when they hear their parents’ voices in the same room
  • Inability to grasp things and hold them for any period of time
  • Does not smile at people when being interacted with
  • Babies do not support their heads or have problems doing so for any period of time
  • No interest in reaching for toys
  • Eyes remain crossed most of the time
  • Eyes are unable to move in all directions
  • Objects are not brought to the mouth to orally explore

Just because these are red flags does not mean that they cannot correct themselves over time. But this is why pediatricians need to know this information so that they can determine the best course of action for developmental milestones not being reached at this young age.

Red Flags For Infants 4 To 6 Months Old

As infants become more curious about the world, they want to interact with their toys and the people around them. This helps them to better understand how things work and what their place in the world is. When this does not happen, there may be some cause for concern for parents.

According to Help Me Growsome developmental red flags for infants from four to six months include:

  • Babies do not coo as a way to try to communicate
  • Babies do not push down with their legs on hard surfaces
  • Muscles appear weak and babies appendages are very limp
  • Vowel sounds are not made when trying to communicate
  • No attempts are rolling over are made
  • Babies do not laugh at anything
  • Muscles are extremely tight and rigid
  • Heads do not move when trying to determine where sounds are coming from
  • Does not show or give any affection to those who care for them
  • Heads are not able to hold steady
  • Bringing items to the mouth is difficult or impossible

If infants are unable to do some of these things, there may be no reason to worry. But, that is something that healthcare professionals should determine so that if and when babies need care, it can be received while they are still young.

Red Flags For Infants 7 To 9 Months Old

By the time infants have lived for half a year, they have developedally grown by leaps and bounds. By the time they reach seven to nine months of age, infants are interacting consistently and are preparing to crawl and maybe even take a few steps. It is a time for huge developmental milestones, indeed.

According to Texas Healthsome developmental red flags for infants from seven to nine months old include:

  • Inability to sit, even with assistance
  • Unable to put any weight on the legs to stand assisted
  • Does not baby babble simple words
  • Does not respond to their name when being talked to
  • Cannot follow finger to an object being pointed at
  • Does not play with others, including parents
  • Cannot take an object and move it from one hand to the other

If babies are unable to do some of these things, it may be something that causes alarm for pediatricians. But not telling babies’ doctors can only make the situation worse. This is why if babies are not hitting these milestones, doctors need to know so that they can receive assistance to developmentally catch up with their peers to no longer be behind.

Red Flags For Infants 10 To 12 Months Old

As infants come to the point where they are close to their first birthdays, they want to become more independent. But, they still want the assurance that their parents are nearby if needed. Something that gives babies the confidence to venture off and try new things as they crawl or even take a few steps away from their parents.

According to Wayne State Universitysome developmental red flags for infants from 10 to 12 months old include:

  • Does not try to seek out items hidden by parents
  • Does not point at objects
  • Does not wave good-bye to anyone
  • Does not babble simple words
  • Cannot hold a sippy cup
  • Does not try to feed themselves with their fingers
  • Cannot get or has problems getting to a standing position
  • Has to brace themselves with their hands when in a seated position
  • Inability to stand unassisted
  • Has not attempted to crawl
  • Does not seek out parents when upset
  • Shows no fear of strangers
  • No desire to explore new places or things, even with parents present
  • Gets overly upset when hair is washed or brushed
  • Gets overly upset when teeth are brushed
  • Finds certain fabrics to be too stimulating

If babies have reached their first birthdays and are unable to do many of these developmental milestones, a plan may be put into place by pediatricians that includes everything from intervention to noting what is not being attempted and taking a wait and see approach. It all depends on what areas infants are deficient in and how pressing it is to get intervention to reach those goals or find out why they are not being reached, sooner than rather later.

Source: The Children’s League, Help Me Grow, Texas Health, Wayne State University

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