Concerned about your child's development?

Concerned about your child's development?

Children develop at different rates. Check out what to do if you have concerns about your preschool child's development. There are a range of services for children who need support. 

Key points to remember about your child's development

  • all children develop at different rates but sometimes delays in development are of concern
  • you know your child best - seek help if you're concerned about your child's development
  • there are a range of services which can provide support for preschool children 

What is delayed development?

All children develop at different rates but sometimes delays in development are of concern.

Children can show delays in one or more areas of their development. These include:

  • gross motor skills (rolling, crawling, walking)
  • fine motor skills (reaching and grasping a toy, threading beads)
  • play skills (peek-a-boo, water play)
  • communication skills - understanding what you are saying top them
  • communication skills - learning to speak (babbling, saying words, talking in sentences)
  • communication skills - making eye contact and gestures (pointing, waving, clapping)
  • cognitive skills (learning colours and shapes, problem solving)

Who should I talk to if I'm worried?

You know your child best. Get a second opinion if you remain concerned.

If you have concerns about your child's development or behaviour, you could talk to:

  • your Well Child nurse
  • your family doctor
  • an early childhood teacher at your child's child care centre or kindergarten
  • the Ministry of Education, Learning Support (phone 0800 622 222)

What services are available?

There are a range of services for children under 5 who need support with their development in New Zealand. These vary around New Zealand and include:

  • child development services 
  • early intervention services provided by the Ministry of Education, Learning Support
  • early intervention services from other providers - these vary from region to region 

Child development services

Your family doctor or Well Child nurse may suggest seeing a paediatrician and/or child development team.

There are some differences, depending on where in New Zealand you live. Generally, these services sit within, or alongside, paediatric or community health services within your local health or hospital service.

The child development teams usually include a range of professionals, which may include:

  • cultural support workers
  • dietitians
  • occupational therapists
  • physiotherapists
  • paediatricians
  • social workers
  • family therapists
  • speech language therapists
  • visiting neurodevelopmental therapists
  • psychologists

Child development teams will refer on to, and work with, other service providers such as preschool educational services and Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC).

Early intervention services 

Early Intervention services are mainly provided by the Ministry of Education - see Support before your child goes to school.

Early intervention services from other providers

As an alternative to the services provided by the Ministry of Education, some regions have other providers of early intervention services. Ask your family doctor, paediatrician or child development team about your local options. 

This page last reviewed 02 December 2019.
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