Zero to Three Month Red Flags

 Is Your Baby Delayed?

Congratulations! You’re a new parent! Hallelujah for little toes and a cute nose! For the first few days and weeks, life is consumed with feeding, sleeping, and finding the time to shower!


Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Of course your newest addition is front and center, with every aunt, cousin, co-worker, and grocery store stranger leaning in to tell you:

  • How adorable they are (duh)
  • What you didn’t know you were doing wrong. (Gee, thanks).  

All of a sudden, you’re second-guessing yourself… ‘Wait, her baby is already rolling?’ and ‘When did he start sleeping through the night?!’. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Stop. Breathe. Let’s check it out.


I know you have seen a developmental milestones chart. What if your little one isn’t hitting those steps? When should you be concerned? This is a helpful guide for you through the process and will give you an idea of when to reach out for more information. Keep in mind, these items were written for children who are chronologically 0 to 3 months old. Babies who were premature by several weeks will not fall into these categories and have their own, unique timeline. As an occupational therapist who has worked extensively with children from 0 months to 3 years, I can tell you children all develop at their own rate. There are, of course, a few issues that stand out to me as being a concern, while others (looking at you, teething) are usually nothing to be worried about.  

Developmental Red Flags

Zero to Three Months


  During feeding:

  • Is your baby falling asleep while eating?
  • Is she sneezing, coughing, or going red in the face when taking the bottle or breast?
  • What about his little eyes, do you notice them watering excessively?
  • Does your baby lose a lot of milk from the corners of his mouth?

If yes, these can be symptoms of poor feeding and oral motor skills.

  • Is your baby trying to hold the bottle or place a hand on your breast while feeding?

After feeding:

  • Is there reflux?
  • Vomiting?
  • How about screaming or prolonged crying after feedings?
  • Does he try to stretch or appear to pull away from you?
  • Does she have chronic constipation?

If yes, these symptoms can be a sign of intolerance to the formula/milk or GI issues.


2monthmotordelays_english I love using Pathways and sending parents there to learn more. These motor sheets have been invaluable to me and I bring them out nearly every day.

  • Is your baby able to briefly support weight through her feet and legs when held in a standing position?
  • Can she push or roll herself from her side onto her back?
  • Is he lifting his head off the ground when placed on tummy?

If no, can indicate a motor delay.

  • Is your baby seem tight or very rigid?
  • Does he seem loose or floppy?
  • Will she keep her head turned only one way?

If yes, this can indicate an issue with tone or torticollis.

  • Is she using both sides of her body equally? You should observe the baby using both hands, kicking both legs and turning the head to both sides equally, if one side appears limp, this is cause for IMMEDIATE concern.



  • Is he being startled by loud noises or turning her head toward a voice?
  • Does she coo when being spoken to by a familiar person?

If no, this can indicate a hearing concern.

  • Do they have a history of ear infections?
  • What about only being soothed if held in unusual ways (ex: over the shoulder so the head is down)

If yes, this can indicate an issue with fluid in the ears.

  • Can your baby make eye contact with you?
  • Does she watch items slowly pass in front of her by turning her eyes and or head?
  • Will he squint when an overhead light is turned on?

If no, this can indicate a vision delay or concern.

  • Does she fuss with a wet or dirty diaper?
  • Does he have special cries for each need by 3 months? (ex: from another room you could tell by the cry if your baby is hungry, dirty, or in pain)
  • Is she smiling at you?

If no, this can indicate a communication problem with getting their needs met, or, an attachment problem.


  • During tummy time does he keep his hands fisted or pulled up off the ground?
  • Will she pull her hands/feet away when you try to hold or massage them?
  • Does he become overly upset about changing clothes or bath time?

If yes, this can indicate an issue with processing touch.

  • Can he typically fall asleep easily with little assistance?
  • Is he sleeping 4-8 hours at a time by 3 months?

If no, this can indicate an issue with arousal states. Again, all children progress through the milestones at their own speed and it’s very easy to try and compare siblings or your friend’s baby to your own. These are only a few common and easily noticeable issues; if you feel your child is delayed, make an appointment to see your pediatrician.    

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Jennie Shafer

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