Developmental Delays in Children with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis, Child Development

Excited young girl yelling and holding wooden blocks over her head

The signs of cerebral palsy (CP) can vary from child to child because there is a wide range of levels of this condition. One of the earliest indicators of cerebral palsy is uncontrollable movements of the head and extremities. This list of cerebral palsy symptoms by age isn’t exhaustive but serves as a good starting point to determine if your child may have developmental delays. If you notice your child is showing any of these signs, contact their doctor.

Potential Signs of CP in Newborns

It’s not always easy to diagnose an infant with cerebral palsy. However, there are some potential signs to be on the lookout for, including muscles that are too stiff or too loose. Learn more about the signs of cerebral palsy in infants and toddlers up to 24 months of age so you can get your child the treatments they need as soon as possible.

Potential Signs of CP in 1-2-Month-Olds

Your one- to two-month-old child may have CP if they:

  • Have stiff or shaky extremities
  • Show difficulty with head control when being picked up
  • Exhibit problems sucking or feeding
  • Cross their legs when being picked up
  • Random or roving eye movements, staring
  • Smacking of lips
  • Bicycling movements of legs
  • The baby stops breathing

Potential Signs of CP in 3-4-Month-Olds

The potential signs of CP in three- to four-month-olds can include:

  • Low muscle tone
  • An arched back when you’re picking them up as if they are pushing away from you
  • Legs that scissor when being picked up

Potential Signs of CP in 5-6-Month-Olds

In children who are five or six months of age, potential signs of cerebral palsy include:

  • Struggles with eating or drinking
  • Inability to roll over without assistance
  • Using only one hand to reach out while the other remains in a fist
  • Inability to push up with their hands while laying on their stomach

Potential Signs of CP in 7-8-Month-Olds

Some signs of cerebral palsy in a baby that’s seven to eight months of age include:

  • Inability to bring their hands together
  • Difficulty bringing their hands up to their mouth
  • Inability to roll over in either direction

Potential Signs of CP in 9-12-Month-Olds

Your child may have developmental delays if they:

  • Are unable to crawl
  • Crawl with one hand and leg while dragging the opposite hand and leg
  • Are unable to sit by themselves
  • Make no attempt to pull themselves up
  • Are not able to stand, even with support

Potential Signs of CP in 13-16-Month-Olds

Your child may have developmental delays if they:

  • Have difficulty understanding language
  • Cannot speak or make language sounds
  • Have trouble with hearing or vision

Potential Signs of CP in 17-24-Month-Olds

Some potential signs of CP in 17-24-month-olds include:

  • Inability to say simple words
  • Failure to point or interact with their environment
  • Failure to speak in simple sentences by 24 months of age
  • Inability to walk up and down the stairs

Basic Developmental Skills

While early diagnosis of CP is possible, it often takes months or years. It’s important to know the signs of cerebral palsy so you can get your child early interventions that may keep symptoms from getting worse. Research shows that up to 80% of all disabilities are first detected because of a parent’s concern. If there is any concern about your child’s development, mention what you’re seeing to their doctor.

There are certain milestones that a child’s doctor will review to determine if there are any developmental delays. Milestones are only guidelines, but there is typically a range of time in which the child should exhibit the milestone without cause for concern.

The basic developmental areas of growth include:

Gross Motor

Your child’s major gross motor milestones include having head control, sitting, crawling, and walking. If a child has gross motor deficits, it’s important that they get evaluated as soon as possible and begin physical therapy to help them strengthen their muscles.

Fine Motor

Fine motor skills include being able to grasp objects, like a spoon or a piece of cereal, between the thumb and finger.


Sensory skills are those using the five senses. A child with CP may have difficulty processing information from these senses because of either a “hyper” (over) or “hypo” (under) sensitivity to stimulation of the senses.

An infant with hypersensitivity may:

  • Dislike being touched
  • Seem intolerant of normal lighting in a room
  • Startle easily at small sounds

An infant with hyposensitivity may:

  • Seem restless and seek stimulation
  • Not respond to loud noises


A child with CP may not have the muscle strength in the mouth, face, and throat to speak or make language sounds. They may also have trouble comprehending what you or others are saying.

Social and Emotional

Children delayed in this milestone may not cry when frustrated, do things to get attention, play games, respond to their name, or develop stranger anxiety.


These milestones include speaking, recognizing pictures, and learning to read. Learn more about intellectual development delays.

The Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC have spent decades helping families with their cerebral palsy cases. We can help your family seek the truth behind your child’s CP diagnosis, and determine whether you’re suffering because of the mistakes of others. Contact us today and let us help you and your family seek justice.

Was Your Child's CP Preventable?