Development Delay


Developmental Delay is when your child does not reach their developmental milestones at the expected times. It is an ongoing major or minor delay in the process of development. If your child is temporarily lagging behind, that is not called developmental delay. Delay can occur in one or many areas—for example, gross or fine motor, language, social, or thinking skills.

Developmental Delay is most often a diagnosis made by a doctor based on strict guidelines. Usually, though, the parent is the first to notice that their child is not progressing at the same rate as other children the same age. If you think your child may be “slow,” or “seems behind,” speak with your child's doctor about it. In some cases, your pediatrician might pick up a delay during an office visit. It will probably take several visits and possibly a referral to a developmental specialist to be sure that the delay is not just a temporary lag. Your child's doctor may use a set of screening tools during regular well-child visits.

The first three years of a child's life are an amazing time of development...

...and what happens during those years stays with a child for a lifetime. That's why it's so important to watch for signs of delays in development, and to get help if you suspect problems. The sooner a delayed child gets early intervention, the better their progress will be. So, if you have concerns, act early.

What causes developmental delay?

Developmental delay can have many different causes, such as genetic causes (like Down syndrome), or complications of pregnancy and birth (like prematurity or infections). Often, however, the specific cause is unknown. Some causes can be easily reversed if caught early enough, such as hearing loss from chronic ear infections, or lead poisoning.


The term “absolute indicators” are clinical terms which are often also referred to as “red flags”. These terms are used to identify behavioural or developmental signs which suggest the need for further evaluation. For parents, such “red flags” should serve as a sign to seek developmental screening to ensure that their child is on the right developmental path. If you are observing that your child is showing two or more of these signs, it is of best interest to seek a pediatric healthcare provider for an evaluation. The following are some symptoms that exist when a developmental delay is present:
*Please note, this list is not inclusive of ALL developmental red flags

Developmental red flags (1 to 3 months):

Developmental red flags (4 to 7 months):

Developmental red flags (8 to 12 months):

Developmental red flags (12 to 24 months):

Developmental red flags (24 to 36 months):

Developmental red flags (3 to 4 years):

Treatments and Therapies:

When it comes to developmental delays, there is no one treatment that will work for every child. Any treatment will require taking into account the child’s individual needs and strengths. The main theme of treatment includes early intervention which may include:


The Hanen Centre:

Developmental Services Ontario:

Surrey Place Centre:

Centennial Infant and Child Centre Foundation:

Toronto Early Childhood and Family Resource System:

The Canadian Child Care Federation(former Child and Family Canada):