Is it time to worry about a late crawler/walker?
May 6, 2010 3:49 PM   Subscribe

ParentFilter: Is it time to worry about a late crawler/walker?

My 2nd son is now 11 months old. He just learned to crawl within the last week. He cannot not pull up to stand (but can stand supported), and does not cruise. Our pediatrician has been trying to get me to take him for physical therapy since he was 9 months old, but I have been resisting because I think that he will just walk when he is ready, and the pediatrician is probably in CYA mode. I am more of a relaxed, crunchy-mom type, our pediatrician is more traditional.

His older brother was early on all his gross motor milestones (in part because he was so light, but also as first child he got more attention). His dad was also a late crawler (11 mos) and a late walker (16 mos) says grandma. Now daycare is suggesting I consider contacting the regional center to arrange physical therapy, so I am starting to doubt my relaxedness. I am interested to hear experiences from other parents with babies who were late with their gross motor skills. I want a sense of whether the pediatrician is averagely concerned, or being over-anxious. Am I being too relaxed and its time to seek help? Did you take your baby for PT? Both my sons went to PT when they were very tiny to treat torticollis, so I am not opposed to PT at all. I just don't want to stress him out, and add stressful travel and expense into our lives if not necessary.
posted by Joh to Health & Fitness (23 answers total)
I would not worry. Mother of a late walker, FWIW. You might enjoy this recent Globe and Mail bit: We know our son best.
posted by kmennie at 3:57 PM on May 6, 2010

My boys were both late walkers, but rolled over and crawled at the 'normal' ages. IMO you could always take your son in and get the opinion of a professional. If the pro thinks there's a problem then proceed with PT, otherwise you can go back to being a relaxed mom. I think the key will be to find a professional that you can trust.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:06 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My son crawled around eight months (and quickly thereafter figured out how to climb stairs!), but didn't walk until 15/16 months. His pediatrician wasn't concerned at all; she said he appeared to be developing normally. It was a little frustrating for me seeing some of his baby-group friends run around months before him, but he had his own schedule. Once he began, he was off -- and now at five, he runs around all the time.

One thing that seemed to help -- when he was ready -- was a pair of shoes that squeaked each time he took a step. One brand was called Pipsqueakers, I believe ... here. The squeak! squeak! squeak! squeaks! got slightly annoying after he finally was running around for a while, but it was also cute enough that I didn't mind.
posted by lisa g at 4:20 PM on May 6, 2010

TooFewShoes has it. It can't HURT to take him to the PT who is an expert in this. From what you describe it sounds normal, but if the ped AND daycare are telling you to do something, I'd listen to them. They see a LOT of babies and (IME) they don't tell you to do something for no reason.

Go to PT, see how it goes, and try to be as relaxed as possible.
posted by k8t at 4:32 PM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

My son and I both started crawling at a year and walking at 18 months. I don't think this is uncommon. I'd relax.
posted by escabeche at 4:33 PM on May 6, 2010

Baby llama has taken her own sweet time at everything. We think she likes to do a lot of research first.

One thing we noticed is that she was late to turning over and we think it's because she slept in a U shaped boppy pillow for nine months or so, until she outgrew it. Is there anything about your son's lifestyle that would make getting his motor on unnecessary or unappealing? I think they have to want something, to move on to the next step. Is he living in a perfect zone of comfort and entertainment or anything?

At any rate, I'd look at other developmental milestones, his interactions with you, curiosity about the world, and physical things like normalized height and weight.

And I would try not to worry. I say this knowing we've been worried every time our daughter has taken her time with a next step. We try to let her do things at her own pace.

I think, if nothing happens in the next month, I would ask the advice of a second pediatrician for another perspective.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:35 PM on May 6, 2010

I would take him in for an assessment and then decide what to do from there. I don't know where you're from but in my (U.S.) state it is considerably harder to qualify for the state-funded Early Intervention programs after the child is 2 years old (at least this is how it was explained to me). Before 2, the child only has to have a significant delay in one area but after that the child has to have at least 2 delays (for example, gross motor AND speech). Also, it can sometimes take a while to have the assessment scheduled, assuming you'd go the public route, so it wouldn't hurt to get the ball rolling now.

But also, it doesn't sound too dire to me. Then again, I'm no professional.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:50 PM on May 6, 2010

Just realized you're in California so my comments apply to you since I was speaking of the California Early Intervention program.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:51 PM on May 6, 2010

You have a pediatrician that you don't have a good fit with on this issue? Why not get a second opinion, then, and maybe schedule it with a pediatrician who more closely follows your parenting style? That way, you can decide if your son needs physical therapy on the basis of solid professional advice.

Personally, my bias is to say 'chill, it'll happen when he wants it to happen' but as noted above, both the pediatrician and the day care folks could be CYA or they could be right. So, second opinion seems called for.

Finally, you may find this Slate article reassuring while you're waiting for what happens next; it's a discussion of developmental milestones as cultural (not inherent) properties by a dad whose son was slow to walk.
posted by librarylis at 5:09 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My father is a pediatrician, and his patients find it very reassuring when he tells them that none of his four children walked till 15-17 months. My nephew followed this pattern, and just took his first steps a few weeks ago at 15 months.
posted by judith at 5:28 PM on May 6, 2010

Anecdata - I didn't walk until late, since crawling was such an efficient method of moving around. My younger sister didn't crawl at all - we had moved, and we had tile over concrete floors. Crawling was simply too painful.
posted by defcom1 at 6:02 PM on May 6, 2010

One of my children didn't sit up or crawl until 9 months. She didn't walk until 15 months. Two of my grandchildren didn't walk until 15 and 17 months. On the other hand, the one who didn't walk until 17 months has vision problems and did require physical therapy. We have a community sponsored rehab service that charges according to a sliding scale. They even come to the house to provide services. See if you have a similar resource in your community for an evaluation but by your description, you child's development seems within the range of normal.
posted by tamitang at 7:00 PM on May 6, 2010

I doubt that anyone here can possibly give you better advice than your pediatrician--an M.D. who knows your baby. Yes, there are plenty of kids who walk late and are fine, but there are some kids who walk late because they have a developmental problem. If it were me, I'd follow the doctor's advice.

Actually, it was me, and I did follow the doctor's advice. Our 13-month old has been making steady progress with PT for some time now, and I've been grateful for it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:32 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My son was late, too. Started really crawling around 11 months, just started walking (at 15 months). Doc said he's perfectly fine! I wouldn't worry if I were you. :-)
posted by Happydaz at 9:02 PM on May 6, 2010

I want a sense of whether the pediatrician is averagely concerned, or being over-anxious.

I think you get at this in your intro, but they are just doing their job. I guess there are milestones for all these activities, based on some 'average' (which can change). Joh jr sounds as if he is a little off one of the averages. A ped. will send a kid to a specialist based on this, mainly in order to eliminate the possibility that something is wrong (which is usually the case), rather than to confirm that something is awry (rare). If they are a good ped. they should have reassured you about this.

Anyway, if your insurance covers it, I would definitely go.
posted by carter at 9:13 PM on May 6, 2010

P.S. I would go because in either case you have nothing to lose. If there is nothing wrong, there is nothing wrong. If there is a problem, then it will receive attention.
posted by carter at 9:15 PM on May 6, 2010

I think it's not so much the crawling-at-blank-months, walking-at-blank-months, each alone, that is setting off the doctor's and daycare's warning bells, but the full set of physical milestones -- not pulling up to standing, not standing unsupported, plus not crawling. Those all involve different muscle groups.

So it seems to me that it's not all that relevant that some perfectly healthy children didn't walk until 18 months; the pediatrician and the daycare are seeing a constellation of physical abilities here, not just a single milestone that's late in coming.

You might as well schedule the evaluation, and see what the PT folks say; it can be so much more helpful, the earlier you begin with it.
posted by palliser at 9:19 PM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, because you are not going to be able to diagnose your son correctly based on any of the contributions to this thread.
posted by carter at 9:24 PM on May 6, 2010

One of my friends didn't walk until she was 2 - turns out she had an undiagnosed hyperflex issue in her knees that was picked up when she was 9. However she could swim before 2 and could crawl. It could have helped to have that diagnosed earlier but didn't cause a lot of issues in the long run.

I agree that it is probably the constellation of issues, not just lack of crawling. One of the things my sister in law is having issues with currently is the developmental delays of her son due to muscle tone so while we were visiting she showed me one of the things her paediatrician does (flexing the kid's legs up, bending at the knee) and pointed out how my daughter (12 months younger) fights and pushes back when you flex her legs but her son doesn't. He was late on his milestones (crawling at 13 months) and a lot of it is that flex issue because he has to work a LOT harder to control his movements. So he did walk when he was ready but it is part and parcel of an underlying issue that needs some accommodation/understanding.

also, the cultural influence - crawling at 9 months is dead on smack bang NORMAL, same with not walking til 15/17 months, no 'didn't until' needed
posted by geek anachronism at 3:40 AM on May 7, 2010

All the anecdotes from my fellow answerers are great and I hope they're comforting for you. If this were my child I would take him for an evaluation. At best, you find there's nothing to worry about. At worst, you find out that he needs some help. I don't think an evaluation would be a wast of anyone's time, either way.

So, would I worry? Not necessarily. Would I investigate further? Absolutely.
posted by cooker girl at 4:41 AM on May 7, 2010

Thanks for the feedback! The PT we have been encouraged to take him to is not a specialist or any kind of state-run program that actually does evals, just a private company that will do PT whether you need it or not, because you pay $$$ for the service. Our health insurance covers a small fraction of the cost. From my limited investigations Early Intervention does not cover kids under 1 year (that is what the lady said on the phone, but maybe she was trying to get rid of me), so I will just hang on a few more weeks and call back then.
posted by Joh at 9:41 AM on May 7, 2010

Personally, I would be begging for a neurology consult and a PT evaluation but I have been through an incredibly unusual parenting situation where delays in my child's motor development (and other symptoms) were a result of brain, spine and kidney cancer. I am by NO MEANS WHATSOEVER suggesting that this is the case for your child, but in my world I am accustomed to parents wanting evaluations, doctors pushing back against that to minimize problems, and ultimately there being some kind of problem. Early interventions are key to managing things in the unlikely event there is an illness or developmental issue, so personally I would do the investigation and respond accordingly. We were in a little bit of denial and almost ignored our pediatrician's suggestion of further testing, and I have spent a lot of time being thankful we erred on the side of testing. Again, please don't read this as me trying to cause panic, I am explaining my unusual situation only so that you know why I am personally in favor of an abundance of caution.
posted by bunnycup at 10:22 AM on May 7, 2010

Well, did he have other ways of getting around besides crawling? Did he scoot on his bottom, or roll to where he wanted to go? I don't think crawling per se is an absolutely necessary step before standing and walking.

But, as bunnycup says, just getting him checked out is a good idea. Missing or late milestones are what the doctors are looking for that tells them something might be wrong. I would expect your pediatrician to be "CYA" as you say, but not the daycare. Yet the daycare workers are mentioning it, too.
posted by Knowyournuts at 3:31 PM on May 7, 2010

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