Reasons for Underdeveloped Toddlers

By Amber Keefer
Running is a gross motor skill that contributes to your toddler's healthy development.
Running is a gross motor skill that contributes to your toddler's healthy development.

Developmental delays come in all forms. While the actual timeline for normal development differs from child to child, it helps to know what to look for so that if problems persist by the age of 2, you can determine whether there are any developmental issues you need to be concerned about. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends getting a developmental screening between 24 and 30 months. Getting your toddler early diagnosis and treatment for any developmental problems can help her catch up to other kids her age.

Gross Motor Skills

Your toddler needs regular physical activity for normal motor skill development. Without it, he may not reach the developmental milestones generally expected for kids his age. A Canadian public health agency, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, reports that the number of children who experience developmental problems because of inactivity is on the rise, and toddlers who aren’t physically active don’t develop basic motor skills on time. Encourage active play throughout the day to keep your toddler moving. Activities like playing, walking and running, kicking a ball, climbing stairs and dancing to music involve using his gross motor skills, contributing to his overall growth and development. You’ll be helping your little one grow by encouraging him to play.


After your toddler turns 2, her vocabulary should include more than 50 words and she should start combining two or more words to make simple sentences, according to Chances are, you’re getting anxious if by this time your little one isn’t talking yet. If your toddler is talking at age 2 but you can’t understand even half of what she says, it’s time to talk to her pediatrician. Although kids have speech delays for different reasons, a hearing problem may be the cause if your child suffers chronic middle-ear infections. Some little ones have speech delays related to oral-motor problems, in which case a toddler may find it hard to talk because the muscles in her lips, tongue and jaw don’t work the way they should.


Dr. Lori Mowbray, a board-certified developmental optometrist, says that a child can have delayed vision development for several reasons. Illnesses, including frequent ear infections or chronic high fevers, could be the reason for your toddler’s vision problems. Genetics often play a role as well. If other family members have vision problems, your child could, too. Exposure to lead or letting your toddler watch too much television can also affect his vision development. Not getting enough physical activity can cause motor development delays, which can then affect visual development, according to Dr. Mowbray's Vision Therapy Blog.

Bone Growth

Among its many crucial functions, the endocrine system regulates growth and development. The pituitary gland is the part of the endocrine system that produces growth hormone -- the hormone that stimulates bone growth. Unfortunately, if the pituitary gland doesn’t make enough growth hormone, your toddler won’t grow as tall as she should, explains Children's Hospital Colorado. The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that affect bone growth and the development of the brain and nervous system. Similar to the pituitary gland, if there’s a problem with your toddler’s thyroid gland, thyroid hormone deficiency can slow her growth.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.