Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

What Are The Developmental Milestones Your Baby Should Reach?

One of the key indicators when making a Cerebral Palsy diagnosis is comparing the baby’s developmental progress against a pre-established set of milestones.

What are some of the major milestones for a baby by six months old?

  • Begins to smile at people
  • Turns head toward sounds
  • Pays attention to faces and begins to follow things with eyes
  • Can hold head up and makes smoother movements with arms and legs
  • Strings together vowels when babbling
  • Responds to name
  • Brings things to mouth
  • Begins to sit without support
  • Rolls over in both directions
  • Likes to play with others, parents especially

What are some of the major milestones for a baby by 9 months old?

  • Has favorite toys
  • Understands “no”
  • Copies the sounds and gestures of others
  • Puts things in their mouth
  • Moves things with ease from one hand to the other
  • Can get into sitting position
  • Sits without support
  • Crawls

What are some of the major milestones for a baby by 12 months old?

  • Cries when mom or dad leaves
  • Shows fear in certain situations
  • Responds to simple spoken requests
  • Tries to say words you say
  • Copies gestures
  • Bangs two things together
  • Lets things go without help
  • May take a few steps without holding on
  • Gets to a sitting position without help

Specifically, if your baby is not able to crawl, can’t stand when supported, doesn’t point to things, doesn’t say single words like “mama” or “dada”, or loses skills they once had it might be time to consult a doctor.   Routine baby check-ups are so important because healthcare providers will evaluate your baby during each visit and monitor age-appropriate milestones.

Intellectual Disability

While Cerebral Palsy might occur with a physical disability and without any sort of intellectual disability, the same can rarely be said in reverse. Very rarely does CP occur strictly as an intellectual disability and in almost all cases is accompanied by muscle-related disability. Among the most common intellectual disabilities affecting children with CP are a below-average IQ, missed cognitive milestones, and issues with thinking and/or problem-solving.


Seizures are on the list of commonly occurring symptoms of CP. In fact, it affects nearly one out of every three people diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

Difficulty Seeing

Due to the negative impact of the disorder on the brain-eye muscle coordination issues is a frequently occurring issue in children with CP, with more than three out of every four diagnoses having strabismus, a problem with the eye turning in or outward, turn up or turn down.  Strabismus is commonly called “crossed-eyes”.

Difficulty Hearing

As with vision, hearing may be affected by a deficiency of oxygen at birth and is therefore commonly associated with cerebral palsy due to anoxia.

Joint Problems

Joint problems are an especially prevalent symptom of Cerebral Palsy in those afflicted by the spastic variant, due to the difficulty in preventing “contracture”, or extreme stiffening of the joints caused by unequal pull of one muscle over another. If you notice this stiffening occurring, reaching out to a physical therapist or developmental pediatrician is a good idea.

Symptoms of CP

  • Inability to grasp objects
  • Poor muscular function
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • Spastic or shaky movements
  • Slow and writhing movements
  • Low muscle tone and floppy arms
  • Walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait
  • Delays in reaching major motor milestones

Behavior Problems

Believe it or not, some behavior problems could be linked to CP. While every child will go through different stages when it comes to development, such as toddlers going through their “terrible twos,” the presence of CP can raise these problems to new heights. Some research even suggests that when a child has CP they are at higher risk to develop mood disorders like extreme mood swings, high anxiety levels, temper tantrums, prolonged crying and social withdrawal.

Is Hypertonia in Infants Synonymous with Cerebral Palsy?

When your child suffers from the condition known as hypertonia, they will have difficulty with flexing and movements, rigid muscles and muscle tension even while resting. Typically, when this condition happens, it happens because the child suffered an injury to their central nervous system. This can happen either during childbirth or even after childbirth depending on the circumstances. In addition, the muscles don’t work right because of how the motor pathways within the central nervous system were damaged. Infant hypertonia can especially prove frustrating because of how it requires prolonged medical care and ongoing therapy for the child to recover correctly.

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Rae S, Editor

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Elena Amato Borrelli, Expert

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Article Citations

  1. Cerebral Palsy Foundation
  2. HealthyChildren.org
  3. CDC
  4. CDC 2 Month Milestones
  5. CDC 4 Month Milestones
  6. Crossed-eyes, Stanford Children's Hospital