Help for Parents: Is My Baby’s Growth Normal?

Have you ever worried about whether your child’s physical development was normal?

Better question: Do you know anyone who hasn’t been concerned about whether a child’s motor or speech development is “normal” at some point? Don’t parents, grandparents and concerned others always fret about whether a baby is strong enough, straight enough, learning to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk and talk at the right time?

Pediatricians can struggle with these issues too, because they are asked to do so much, with so little time during regular check-ups.

Therefore, it is wonderful—and an achievement of no small proportion—that excellent, free help for parents and doctors struggling with physical development concerns is available online, in print, in the mail, on the telephone and in person through Pathways, based in Glenview and Chicago.

“Early detection and intervention of motor delays are so important,” explains Felicia Kurkowski, director of Project Development, during a recent tour of Pathways’ Glenview center. “Developmentally, a month in a child’s life is like a year for an adult. Time is important.” If you are the parent, grandparent or pediatrician of a child who may be struggling with developmental issues, that year can loom large!

One woman’s remarkable vision, 27 years of cutting-edge work, collaboration among pediatric experts from otherwise competing institutions, early and wise adoption of the Internet’s capabilities and savvy philanthropic development led to Pathways’ ability to help children around the world through their website, videos, brochures, kits, staff development and even a toll-free, 24-hour hotline.

“The advisors participate because they are inspired by the mission, and by the fact that this information is free for all,” Kurkowski explains.

Pathways searches the world for potential best practices and implements them. A good example is a therapy system they use, which was developed to help Russian cosmonauts who spend extended time in space. This outreach has allowed Pathways to develop expertise in many areas of child development, including the importance of “tummy time” play to correct positional torticollis, which is a problem because of the widespread use of baby carriers, and parents putting their babies to sleep on their backs without increasing tummy play time.

Most recently Pathways has developed substantial expertise in sensory integration problems. Sensory integration is the process of quickly taking in information from all senses, then organizing and using it to successfully accomplish everyday activities.

The Glenview Pathways center provides therapy and support for 250 patients and their families.

“Parents need to trust their instincts,” Kurkowski says. Thanks to Pathways, it’s easier than ever for them to act on early concerns and find good information and help.