What are "Red Flags" in Physical Therapy? 4-6 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 4-6 year old that could be a red flag:

  1. Trips often
  2. Unable to go up/down stairs with one foot per step
  3. Walks on toes
  4. "Wiggly" when sitting in chair at school or during meals

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 4-6 year old:

  1. Explores a new playground without falling
  2. Climbs up slide ladder without assistance with one foot per step
  3. Catches and throws balls
  4. Uses both hands for tasks like swinging a bat

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

-Cheyenne Allen, PT, DPT


Key milestones for 4-6 year olds: Milestones for children. Pathways.org. (2020, November 24). Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://pathways.org/growth-development/4-6-years/milestones/