Caring for an Infant
Caring for an infant with cerebral palsy involves many challenges. While symptoms may be present as early as the age of 3 months, it often takes several months, and frequently a couple years before a diagnosis of cerebral palsy is made. Most likely, your child will be at least a toddler, and in some cases, much older before he or she has an official diagnosis.
While you are pursuing a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, care for your infant just like any other, while making note of anything that seems unusual.
Some things you will want to watch for which may indicate your infant has cerebral palsy include:
- Observe your baby’s feeding habits, as cerebral palsy often causes poor muscle control of the mouth and tongue
- As feeding problems are common, monitor your infant’s weight closely
- Unusually stiff or weak muscles
- Missing developmental milestones such as the ability to roll over (5 mos.), smile (2 mos.), sit up (7 mos.), crawl (9 mos.), or walk (12 mos.). Remember, these milestones are approximate – many healthy children reach these milestones at slightly younger or older ages.
- Unusual amounts of drooling
- Respiratory issues
When caring for your infant who you believe has cerebral palsy, it’s important to provide your infant with all the same care and love with which you would treat a typical infant. In addition to the typical care, however, there are some things to which you may want to pay close attention:
- If your infant is overly emotional, he or she may need extra calming activity such as rocking or swinging in an electric swing
- As your infant may not support his or her head as well as the typical infant, extra supervision and a bath that provides better support are helpful
- Always watch closely for signs of seizures, and be sure to keep your child away from any objects that could harm him or her during a seizure. Simply remain with your child until the seizure has passed.
- As infants with cerebral palsy are more prone to infection, research vitamin supplements that may help him or her to fight off infections
- Challenge your child’s gross motor and fine motor skills in order to help him or her develop muscular strength and coordination
As you go through the process of caring for your infant with cerebral palsy, the best thing you can do is ensure that you stay in close touch with your doctor. Your infant may exhibit a variety of puzzling symptoms that may or may not be indicative of cerebral palsy.