How to Assess Your Infant and Toddler Development with the Bayley Development Scale

How to Assess Your Infant and Toddler Development with the Bayley Development Scale

This is useful to help parents identify any disabilities to facilitate early treatment and cure.

Different children grow at differing pace; while some may start to speak coherently at two, others may do so only by 4 years of age.

Some children learn to walk soon after turning one, but it might take others some more time. So how can you be certain that your child is developing normally? After all, if he or she is not, you would want to provide help as early as possible so that he or she can live as normally as possible.

This is where the Bayley scales of infant development (BSID) come in. Originally developed by Nancy Bayley, this is a series of developmental play tasks used to measure the development of children aged between 1 and 42 months of age. The Development Quotient (DQ) derived from these measurements is used to assess the motor, cognitive, language, social-emotional and adaptive behaviour in babies and toddlers.

The Components of the Bayley Development Scale

The Bayley scales of infant development involve a series of interactions and tasks between the examiner and the child. The examiner observes the child during the assessment which can last for 45 to 60 minutes, and which invokes basic and complex responses from the child. There are five components to the Bayley infant development scale test.

These are the Cognitive Scale, the Language Scale, the Motor Scale, the Social-Emotional Scale and the Adaptive Behaviour Scale.

The Cognitive Scale:

Cognitive development refers to how an infant perceives, thinks and gains an understanding of the world in which we live. Every child is born with an innate curiosity of its environments; it is through interaction with others that a child actively constructs his or her development. The Cognitive Scale measures a child’s cognitive ability such as perceptual acuities, memory learning, problem-solving, sensory discriminations and response through tasks like engaging in pretend play, looking for fallen objects, naming of objects and others.

bayley infant development scale

The Bayley infant development scale is applicable to both infants and toddlers, catered for ages between 1 and 42 months of age. | Photo: iStock

The Language Scale:

The Language test measures a child’s vocalization and verbal communication development. The scale provides a focus on the child’s prelinguistic behaviours, reasons for communicating and social routines. By measuring the child’s ability to understand and speak a language as well as follow instructions, we can help identify children with developmental disabilities in need of early intervention and help.

The Motor Scale:

This test assesses the child’s degree of body control, large muscle coordination, finer manipulative skills of the hands and fingers, dynamic movement, postural imitation and the ability to recognize objects through touch. The child is given a series of tasks like grasping and stacking blocks, building simple structures, tracing an outline on paper, cutting paper with scissors, walking and climbing. Children are generally quite eager to learn new motor skills. Using this test over a period of time, the examiner is able to distinguish a child whose motor development is not synchronous with other areas of development.

bayley infant development scale

Photo: iStock

The Social-Emotional Scale:

This test measures the child’s ability to engage with others socially and to engage in age-appropriate play. Not every child is given this test, based on the report given by the caregivers. The report will include how easily you can calm the child, his or her social responsiveness and imitation play.

How to Assess Your Infant and Toddler Development with the Bayley Development Scale

Photo: iStock

The Adaptive Behaviour Scale:

This test will also depend upon reports provided by the parents or caregivers. This scale assesses how well the child has adapted to daily life by asking questions about self-control, following rules, getting along with others and communication skills.

Preparing for the Bayley Scale Test

The accuracy of the Bayley test will depend upon the rapport between the examiner and the child, without the interference of parents. In order to ensure this, the examiner will explain in detail all the procedures and what to expect during the tests so that parents will know what to expect beforehand and will not interrupt in between the assessments and divert the attention of the child.

The Bayley Test Score

Once all the tests and tasks have been completed, the examiner rates the child’s performance. All the scores of the tasks are totalled and compared to the already-available table of scores of children of the same age. Percentile ranks are provided to assist in these comparisons. For instance, if a child is given percentile of 37, it means that his or her performance is at or above 37 percent of the other children of the same age included in the sample, and at or below 63 percent of other children of the same age. Using these scores, paediatricians can identify early signs of neuro-development delays or disabilities, and suggest treatment; it can also be used to test the child for autism and non-verbal learning disorders.

Limitations of the Bayley Scale

Most children have dramatically different developmental rates, so any developmental delay might be temporary. Only a small number of children have developmental delays that persist onto later years. Hence, the Bayley test score should be taken only as an assessment of the child’s current functioning. Nevertheless, if you feel that your child is not developing properly, you should seek the advice of your doctor; after all, early detection of developmental delays or disabilities result in better treatment and cure.

Lead image via iStock. 


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Written by

Jia Ling

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