I have long been con­cerned about sev­er­al aspects of the ear­ly devel­op­ment of young chil­dren. I feel, as you know, that TV should be banned for babies, as should any form of con­trap­tion such as activ­i­ty cen­tres and bounc­ing or jig­gling baby seats.

The oth­er day I was dis­cussing the devel­op­ment of a 9‑month-old baby with a col­league who cares for him/her in our facil­i­ty. The child was in a sit­ting posi­tion and I asked if he/she was able to get there by himself/herself. The answer was “No”.

I’ve known for sev­er­al months that he/she has been ‘sitting’. He/she is sat on a mat out­side for fresh air, he/she ‘sits’ in a chair to be fed and ‘sits’ on the floor with a bumper pad around him/she or ‘lays’ in a baby seat at oth­er times of day.

Anoth­er and very per­cep­tive col­league who also works with the baby com­ment­ed that he/she had poor mus­cle tone in his/her low­er limbs. He/she cer­tain­ly didn’t appear to be reach­ing in any way while I had him/her lay­ing on his/her back out­side. There was no effort on his/her part to wrig­gle and squirm and cer­tain­ly no abil­i­ty, let alone an effort, to roll onto his/her tummy.

And thus I believe we have found the miss­ing pieces of the devel­op­men­tal puz­zle, the very rea­sons I have always sus­pect­ed prob­a­bly account for such a big increase in so many devel­op­men­tal delays.

I was recall­ing anoth­er child who was ‘forced/encouraged’ to walk at 9–10 months by his/her moth­er, who fre­quent­ly boast­ed to us, the staff, “I walked at 9 months”. 

Now that this same ‘early walk­er’ is 2.5 years old his/her emo­tions and speech are very poor. He/she screams and cries at the drop of a hat when things don’t go his/her way. His/her speech has numer­ous iden­ti­fi­able words in it but there is inter­mit­tent bab­ble. He/she doesn’t look you in the eye unless request­ed to do so and then only briefly; he/she doesn’t fol­low direc­tions and has a very hard time sit­ting at a table to eat. He/she can count but doesn’t know that it could be for a rea­son oth­er than that at ‘10’ it’s his/her turn to go on the swing!

He/she also is prone to febrile seizures. I find this all very inter­est­ing. Here we have a child who quite pos­si­bly missed many of the nat­ur­al and req­ui­site devel­op­men­tal mile­stones that every child needs to meet, most­ly due to parental igno­rance, pres­sure and anxiety.

How­ev­er, quite prob­a­bly accord­ing to his/her pedi­atric record he/she has ‘met or exceed­ed all devel­op­men­tal mile­stones’ – you know, those extreme­ly min­i­mal mile­stones which help a pedi­a­tri­cian tell you ‘there’s noth­ing wrong with your child’. In this case the child’s moth­er prob­a­bly has no clue that there are a myr­i­ad of devel­op­men­tal delays vis­i­ble to the naked eye, every day.

It is only by con­stant­ly being exposed to the malfea­sance of so many old­er par­ents and young care­givers that I am final­ly real­iz­ing that my major premise of many years is true:

‘Day­care isn’t good for young children’

One of my oth­er premis­es is that over edu­cat­ed young indi­vid­u­als are often ill pre­pared to raise some­one else’s child just as high­ly edu­cat­ed par­ents and high-pow­ered par­ents are ill suit­ed to rais­ing their own – they each have a very false sense of their abil­i­ties when it comes to childraising.

Thus we have so many devel­op­men­tal delays, diag­nosed and undiagnosed.

Sad isn’t it?