What are "Red Flags" in Physical Therapy? 10-18 months

Last week, we talked about "red flags" in physical therapy for our 5-9 month old kiddos. But what about our slightly older little ones?

As we discussed last week, a "red flag" is a term used in the medical field that indicates there could be a problem with your child's development. Let me emphasize here the word could. It doesn't mean your child has or will have a problem, it just means they could. Typically, we grow concerned if your child has a combination of red flags, rather than just one. Your child's pediatrician will spot these flags and then send in referrals for the little one to be checked out. Referrals can be to a neurologist, geneticist, or other types of doctors. Physical, occupational, and speech-language pathologists can receive these referrals as well. If you think your child has any of these red flags, please reach out to your pediatrician! Now, let's talk about the "red flags" we might see in children 10-18 months old when compared to typical development.

Red Flags for 10-12 months old:

  1. Pulls to stand but keeps legs stiff or toes pointed
  2. Pulls to stand using arms instead of legs
  3. Keeps arm(s) straight or bent
  4. When sitting, uses hands to prop up
  5. Poor head control

What you should be seeing from your 10-12 month old:

  1. Pulls to stand at furniture
  2. Cruises along furniture right and left
  3. Stands alone
  4. May take a few steps without holding on
  5. Moves in and out of sitting and standing and crawls to get toy
  6. Can throw an object while seated and not lose balance
  7. Claps hands together
  8. Keeps head up when being pulled from lying to sitting
  9. Sits unsupported and looks around

Red Flags for 13-18 months old:

  1. Not taking independent steps
  2. Falls frequently when standing
  3. Walks on toes during 50% of the day
  4. Doesn’t pull to stand at furniture
  5. Is unable to crawl up stairs

What you should be seeing from your 13-18 month old:

  1. Taking independent steps
  2. Rarely falls
  3. Can squat and return to standing to pick up a toy
  4. Moves in and out of sitting and standing to crawl, climb, cruise, walk

If your child has any of these red flags, this means that there could be a problem, and their pediatrician would need to see them. Your pediatrician can send referrals to the correct medical professionals (including PT!) to make sure your precious new baby is on the right track.

-Cheyenne Allen, PT, DPT


10-12 months Important MILESTONES: Track Baby Milestones. (2021, March 29). Retrieved April 05, 2021, from https://pathways.org/growth-development/10-12-months/milestones/

Milestones for 13-18 MONTH OLDS: Track TODDLER Milestones. (2021, March 29). Retrieved April 05, 2021, from https://pathways.org/growth-development/13-18-months/milestones/