He Will Walk When He’s 4 Years Old… Maybe.
One thing that I did not know about Down Syndrome was the delay in development. DS children have low muscle tone and long tongues. Combined, these characteristics can delay them from reaching milestones that other children their age do with no difficulty. My son is 8 months old and he can almost hold his head straight. He can roll from side to side and he can touch his feet. He is only bottle feeding and we have not introduced him to solids yet. That is more than we can ask for at his age and I am a proud mom!
Our first road block..
I had decided to exclusively breastfeed Rodrigo and did not purchase things like pacifiers, bottles or formula. He initially “latched” on and we were ecstatic. Unfortunately, that did not last, he had a weak latch and was not feeding properly. I stopped breastfeeding him at one week old and started pumping. I went through 3 types of bottles before finding “the one” and even with that my son still struggled. He was diagnosed with Failure to Thrive, which meant he was not growing and not reaching milestones.
I remember feeling guilty at the time for his delay in growth. I wanted to breastfeed and as it turned out, “Breast ISN’T always best.” My son weighed 7lbs for the first 2 months of his life. At birth he weighed 6lbs 11oz. He would gain some weight and lose again, it was a struggle. We were instructed to fortify his breastmilk with formula and finally he started gaining weight. If he consumed small amounts of milk with lots of calories he would slowly gain the weight he lost plus more, and he did.
Let the therapies begin!
At one month old Rodrigo started receiving speech therapy once a week and physical therapy once a week. The speech therapy would help in feeding and growth and physical therapy would help in reaching milestones, such as sitting, crawling and walking.
When the therapist does not come we have Rodrigo practice tummy time, that he has not mastered but tolerates well, and other exercises. Once he learned how to properly latch, the sessions for speech therapy were discontinued.
When will he reach these milestones?
For now, what my son is doing is more than what I can ask for. Slowly but surely he will be able to run! But first he will need to learn head control. He will learn to sit, around 6-30months; he will learn to crawl, around 8-22months; he will learn to walk at around 1-4 years old, maybe.
For speech and language: his first word will be around 1-4 years old, and two-word phrases around 2-8 years old. Those time frames are just an estimate and could be sooner or later. He will eventually reach them all. This comes with a lot of hard-work and patience. Patience that I do not have, but have learned that it is a must when having a baby with DS.
At the end of the day..
We laugh together when he makes a split, because he is super flexible. The bright side to this is that I will have my baby for a longer amount of time. I can still swaddle him and he won’t fight me. I can still hold him close to my chest while he sleeps. I don’t worry about him falling to the sides because he doesn’t sit yet. I don’t worry about him grabbing things and putting them in his mouth because he cannot grasp yet. Truth is I am not saddened by this delay, I can enjoy him longer.
& when he does reach these milestones I will be right there with him. He is now 8 months old and weighs almost 14lbs, and according to his doctor, he’s tall for his age. I love his chubby cheeks and the way he holds my face between his hands. He is cooing and learning how to babble. He is PERFECT to ME!!