Q&A: Premature Baby Not Standing or Walking at 16 Months

Tamara GuoChild Development, Toddlers 12 - 36 Months

blockquote_bgMy daughter was born premature, at 32 weeks. For the first year she was fine, developing fine. But around her first birthday she has seemed to stopped. She’s 16 months now, and not doing a lot of the things she should be doing at 16 months. We went in for her 15 month well baby and I expressed my concerns with her doctor. The doctor was convinced she would grow out of it by September (her next well baby visit). I’m not so sure.
Her fine motor skills aren’t where her age group is. She’s not standing or walking, can only say a few words, can’t follow commands, can’t scribble. I’m concerned about it, and any attempt to practice walking results is a meltdown. Recently she’s come across hitting and loves to hit not just other people but herself, which is concerning to me. I don’t know whether I should push for some early intervention of just relax and follow her doctor. I don’t see her progressing at all in a month, other than the hitting and tantrums (if you can call that progressing).

The whole purpose of Early Intervention is to help children catch up by age 3 and I am always discouraged when a doctor does not encourage a parent to seek this beneficial help for their child. A wait and see attitude is not acceptable when help is available now and hearing a doctor say “she’ll grow out of it” can make me cringe. I would definitely contact your local early intervention provider and ask for a full developmental evaluation so that your daughter can receive therapy if needed and you can receive important tips and strategies to help your daughter continue to reach her developmental milestones to the best of her ability and begin to catch up with her same age peers.

As infants, many of the preemies we see are developing similar to same age peers, but when the major speech and motor milestones come into play in the 12-18 month period, this is sometimes where we do see preemies falling behind and we get re-referrals to evaluate toddlers who may not have qualified for services when they were infants. You know your daughter best, so it sounds like you definitely have some concerns, even if your doctor doesn’t, so please make that call to early intervention to give yourself piece of mind and to get help for your daughter if it is determined that she is showing a developmental delay.