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Red Flags to Watch Out for During Baby Development

By Lisa Hayden / August 25, 2020
Red Flags During baby Development

Baby's Milestones

When monitoring your child’s growth, baby milestones are your friend because they help you to gauge whether your child is developing in a normal way or not. This means that if they don’t achieve these milestones in the intended time, it should be a red flag to you indicating that all is not well. Here are some common milestones to look out for in your baby’s development.

Eye contact

At 3 - 6 months of age, your child should be able to meet your direct gaze. At this stage, it is normal for babies to look at people’s faces, and in three months time, they should be able to hold the gaze of another person. In addition, they should be able to focus on you when you speak to them. If not, then it may indicate a developmental issue and you should seek advice from your pediatrician.

Sitting up

A baby sits up once their back and neck muscles are strong enough to support them. It is an indicator that they will soon be able to crawl. This normally happens between 4- 7 months - latest 8 months. While babies develop at their own pace if your child is not exhibiting signs of sitting up such as rolling over or holding their head up, and their muscles are floppy then you should consult your pediatrician just to be on the safe side.

helping your baby achieve certain physical and cognitive milestones

Between three to six month, babies are normally very social. Generally, they smile, kick, laugh and roll over and are fun to be with. This is a time of great pleasure for parents because they get to interact with the children by talking to them, and the baby loves to squeals and mumbles out loud. If you don’t see this with your baby, you should consult your pediatrician to ascertain whether it is a late development issue or there is another problem.


Once they sit up, they should graduate into crawling with ease and this happens at 8 to 9 months. At least, they should exhibit signs of wanting to crawl by creeping or rocking back and forth on their knees. At this point, if your baby hasn’t had any issues with his growth and development, there is no immediate need to be concerned. If he is able to sit up on his own and has developed grabbing skills, your baby should be okay. Sometimes babies can go straight to walking without going through the crawling stage. If they are not showing some signs of wanting to be mobile, then you may consult your doctor for advice.


This is the milestone that many parent look forward to with moms hoping the baby’s first word will be “mama” and the fathers waiting for the first word to be “dad”. So, between 4 and 9 months, many parents are looking forward to hearing the baby say a word. Normally, children chatter a lot even if they don’t say a word; they will be heard making a range of sounds that seem to make sense to them as they learn to speak. By the end of the first year, if your baby is not babbling or saying a few words, then it is worth seeing a doctor.


Once your baby crawls, the next logical move, is walking. They will do this by first trying to haul themselves up to a standing position and move around supporting themselves with furniture before they let go a titter around as they learn to be stable. In the range of 10 to 18 months, a child may be expected to be walking. If your baby hasn’t walked any later than this, then you may talk to your doctor but if your child hasn’t had other developmental issues and as long as he is able to pull himself up on his own, your baby is okay. He might just be in need of some positive reinforcements and lots of encouragement.

Red Flags to Watch Out for 

Now that we have gone through some baby milestones that may serve as markers for you to determine where the development stage of your baby lies, let us further look into these red flags that we keep mentioning. To further help you keep track of your baby’s growth and development, here is a guideline that outlines certain red flags to watch out for during specific periods of your baby’s first months.

Keep in mind, however, that all babies develop and grow in their own pace. You might consider your baby is displaying a red flag when it could be just be due to a limp muscle tone or maybe your baby is just innately shy. Perhaps he doesn’t feel the need to communicate because everything is already being done for him. Babies, like adults, have different motivations in order for them to reach their milestones. With that said, it does not hurt to be cautious and be observant of your baby’s development. Here is a list of red flags that you may want to look out for according to a timeline. In case you do observe red flags in your baby, be sure to talk to your baby’s doctor about it during your regular visit.​

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The fourth month mark

Babies who are about four months of age should be more responsive and sociable than when they were just newborns. You may consider it a red flag when:

  • Your baby is unresponsive to loud sounds. Normally, babies would be sensitive to sound and any significant level of noise should coax out a response from them.
  • Your baby is not very sociable and responsive to people. Most babies are able to smile and interact with people, including those who are not family members, at this age.
  • Your baby is not keen on reaching or grasping for toys and objects. Babies learn about their environment by touching and feeling. If your baby shows little interest in their environment, maybe their unresponsiveness should be of a concern.
  • Your baby has the inability to follow objects with his eyes when moved in front of his face.
  • Your baby seems to lack the ability to support his head on his own.
  • Your baby is not making any sound or is not babbling. Babies are usually chattery and they make baby noises to interact with their environment. A quiet baby could be a sign there might be something to be concerned about.

The eighth month mark

By the time your baby hits his eighth month, there would have been dramatic changes already. From being able to make minimal movements, he will be able to sit upright and will be more likely to be moving around the room in creative ways more than one. From the timid newborn that he was, he should be an energetic and lively baby that you can’t get enough of. Do express some concern when:

  • Your baby displays uncontrollable movement and still seems to exhibit the reflexes that should only be seen in newborns like the tonic-neck reflex, jerk reflex or the moro reflex.
  • Your baby seems as if he is unable to put some weight on his legs in a standing position, even when you are holding and assisting him.
  • Your baby seems like he cannot hold his head up when he is pulled up by the arms to go into a sitting position.
  • The muscles of your baby seems amiss. It is concerning when the muscle tone of your baby is too floppy or when it is too stiff.
  • Your baby doesn’t like being around people and he seems disinterested with people or shows no affection or recognition to the people who are always around him and the people who are taking care of him.
  • Your baby can’t seem to hold a steady gaze or you think there might be something odd with his eyes. If he is consistently cross-eyed or his eyes keep turning in or out, and is tearing a lot, it might be best to go see your baby’s doctor about it. Another sign to look out for is if your baby can’t follow an object with his eyes when the object is moved in front of his face.
  • Your baby still remains to be unresponsive to sound. When a sound is made, especially a loud one, a baby would normally turn or physically respond to locate the source of the sound.
  • Your baby is not actively reaching and grasping for objects. Babies at this stage usually put everything in their mouths. If your baby seems unable to get his grabbed objects, if any, to his mouth, there might be something amiss with his development. Do not forget to mention this to your doctor on your next visit.
  • Your baby hasn’t rolled over or sat up on his own, or at least he hasn’t shown signs that he wants to try. This may indicate muscle tone problems and should be discussed with your baby’s doctor.
  • Your baby is having a hard time going to sleep for an amount of time during his bedtime.
  • Your baby consistently shows signs that he is experiencing pain in the abdomen because of intestinal gas or an obstruction in his intestines. Your baby may have colic and this could be severely painful for your baby. It may be difficult to console his pain so immediately consult your doctor for proper treatment.
  • Your baby remains to be quiet and timid, refusing to cry out in protest of anything that is bothering him or to cry out as a means to get your attention. Your baby should be loud and boisterous at this point.
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The twelfth month mark

Time may seem to be passing quickly and once your baby has his first birthday, he will be on an even quicker journey to becoming a full toddler. By this time, he would have had a number of milestones. You may have reason to worry when:

  • Your baby hasn’t made any attempts to form words. A baby would normally be starting to form words between 4 and 9 months. At this point in his life, your baby should have at least 2 to 3 words that could be recognizable to you, or at least he should be quite chattery and should babble a lot.
  • Your baby is still having difficulty in moving around. He doesn’t have to be walking at this stage but he should at least be able to get around with ease by crawling or cruising.
  • Your baby remains to be disinterested with interacting with you or others. Babies at this stage usually go crazy over playing interactive and playful games like “pat-a-cake” or “where’s the baby”.
  • Your baby is showing no signs of desire to be interactive with his environment. One year olds are usually very physically interactive and would usually display waving, pointing or head shaking gestures.

Why is it important to watch out for red flags?

Being a parent is no easy feat and there sure are a lot of things to get worried about. One of things that parents worry about is their baby’s proper development. It is not easy to stay nonchalant about your baby’s milestones, or lackthereof, not when you keep hearing about other babies that are hitting milestones one after another.

Children are all different, and they are not built the same. Naturally, they tend to develop at different rates. It will not hurt, however, to be learned and familiar with the signs that you should be seeing in your baby.

It is important to know the milestones that your baby is expected to hit at certain points in his life so that you may properly address his developmental issues in case there are any. There is no harm in being extra careful, especially when it comes to the condition of your precious baby. Early detection can be of utmost importance. It can save you and your baby of having to battle far more difficult conditions should a developmental issue gets complicated.​

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