What are "Red Flags" in Physical Therapy? 2-3 Years

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 that 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 your 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!

Things to look for in your 2-3 year old that could be a red flag:

  1. Does not show interest in movement (slides, jumping, swings)
  2. Prefers to walk on their toes
  3. Falls more than others or struggles to step up and down
  4. Leans on caregiver or furniture frequently
  5. Has no interest in kicking or throwing

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

Things you should see in your 2-3 old:

  1. Explores new environments like a playground
  2. Climbs, slides, runs, jumps
  3. Walks with a heel toe pattern
  4. Plays with kids their age and does not tire out easily
  5. If accidentally bumped, they can stay upright without falling
  6. Uses both hands to play with toys

If you have any questions, be sure to talk to us or your pediatrician!

-Cheyenne Allen, PT, DPT


Key milestones for 2-3 Year Olds: Milestone Checklists. Pathways.org. (2021, October 19). Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://pathways.org/growth-development/2-3-years/milestones/