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Seek help if you are concerned about your child’s development

Global RCEL Addendum - Africa (Eng) (USAID Advancing Nutrition | 2023)
Seek help if you are concerned about your child’s development

Key Messages

  • Children learn at different paces. Some children learn quickly, and some children need more time. But remember, all children can learn! Children’s skills build upon one another. For example, a child must learn to sit before he can stand.
  • Some children are born with or develop conditions that can affect their abilities. Children may develop differently in how they move, see, hear, learn, think, or interact with others.
  • Many conditions contribute to children developing differently. You may hear many things about disabilities in your community, but it is important to know that disabilities are not the fault of the mom or dad, and they are not a curse. All children can learn, and some children may need extra support.
  • All children should have their growth, development, hearing, and vision monitored to identify any concerns early. If you are concerned about your child’s development, seek support from a health care provider.


  • Concerns about development  
  • IF CONCERNS, SAY: All children develop at different paces. If there are any difficulties, children benefit from early identification and support. You should visit a health facility to discuss your concerns further with a skilled provider.
  • WARNING SIGNS FOR REFERRALS: If your child ever regresses, meaning he stops being able to perform skills that he used to do such as talking or walking, this can be a sign of a serious problem. You must seek care immediately.


Concerns about hearing or vision

  • IF CONCERNS, SAY: You should visit a health facility to discuss your concerns further with a skilled provider and have them check your child’s hearing and vision.
  • WARNING SIGNS FOR REFERRALS: If your child does not respond to noise or does not use her eyes to follow your face or objects by age 3 months, seek care at your health facility.


Concerns about feeding

  • IF CONCERNS, SAY: I would be happy to talk with you about some strategies to help your child to feed. If the problems persist, you should visit a health facility. (See: “Special Circumstances Counseling Card 7.”)
  • WARNING SIGNS FOR REFERRALS: Seek care immediately if your child is losing weight, frequently coughs or tears while feeding, has rigid muscles or jaw clenching that prevent feeding, vomits frequently, or sweats excessively or tires quickly when feeding.

No concerns

  • Praise the caregiver for all of their efforts to help their child grow and develop! Encourage the caregiver to keep practicing responsive care and age-appropriate feeding practices. See IYCF cards on breastfeeding and complementary feeding topics and the Communication and Play cards from this RCEL Addendum for more specific ideas.


  • Summarize the session by asking the caregiver(s) to demonstrate or explain what they will go home and do with their child. Ask if the caregiver(s) see any barriers and problem-solve together how to overcome those barriers.
  • If appropriate, agree on the next meeting date.

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