Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

December 15, 2015

Baby using only one side of body? Here’s a Physical Therapy list of concerns.

Image result for baby using one arm more than other  Is your baby only using one side of their body?

On average, favoritism of the left or right hand is established between the ages of 18 and 24 months. Hand preference usually occurs between ages 2 and 4 years. By kindergarten, most children have established a dominant hand.  If your child shows an overwhelming preference to one hand before this specified period, there may be reason for concern.  


  • If your child has one limb that appears to be dramatically stronger
  • If one hand is fisted or if a thumb is always held in the palm of the hand
  • If there is a significant difference in the skill of grasping between the two hands
  • If your child never reaches with one hand and immediately transfers a toy to the other hand if a toy is placed in the non-preferred hand
  • If your child always has their weight shifted to one side of the body in sitting and standing positions
  • If your child sits persistently with their knees to one side coupled with scooting in sitting sideways and using only one arm
  • If you notice that your child appears to neglect one side of the body or does not notice objects placed on the non-preferred side
  • If stiffness and floppiness is noted in one arm or leg only
  • If your child does not bear weight on one arm or leg
  • If while crawling, one elbow is significantly and persistently more bent than the other elbow when bearing weight
  • If your child is consistently on the tiptoe of only one foot                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

If you notice any of the above mentioned warning signs in a child, a physical therapy evaluation is recommended.

Amy Sturkey LPT is one of the pediatric experts at Child and Family Development.  She can determine a diagnosis, as applicable, and provide recommendations and interventions to address any difficulties. 


  • Cerebral Palsy: A neurological dysfunction can result from damage to the brain in the areas that control movement.  In cerebral palsy, this damage occurs before, during or shortly after birth and may cause significant stiffness or floppiness on one side of the body.
  • Brachial Plexus Injury: Injury to the brachial plexus can cause weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Leg length discrepancy: When a child has one leg shorter than the other, they can compensate by walking on the tiptoe of the shorter leg.

Acquisition of skills can be unique to each child. There is a huge variability in the range of which normal gross motor skills are met. However, a significant difference between the use of one side of the body and the other is a definite red flag.  Visit our website for more information about typical motor development.  


Resources: Developmental Disabilities. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from

C&FD has been nominated for Charlotte's Best under 4 categories, help us get votes through 7/26. Votes can be submitted daily!

VOTE NOW: C&FD Charlottes Best

You can find C&FD listed under Health & Beauty: Medical Practices, Mental Health Services, Physical therapy, Speech therapy