What happens to children with a severe congenital heart defect at the age of 1 to 4 years?

Social behaviour

Although children with a severe congenital heart defect may have undergone surgery and long hospital stays several times, they usually behave well. However, heart children often suffer long or stormy tantrums, anxiety, and fear of separation. Relating to a heart child in as stress-free a way as possible helps them stay calm. Contact with siblings or other children can also be very helpful.



Heart children can reach some of the motor milestones, such as free sitting, crawling, and walking, rather later. Physiotherapy can often help your child's motor development. Stay calm when your child takes more time to begin walking. As with healthy children, motor development varies greatly, and each child develops at their own pace. In fact, heart children surprise us again and again by making great motor progress within a short time.



It is quite possible that your child will speak their first words or sentences a little later than a healthy child. For the most part, this is still within the normal range, and no extra help is needed. However, language understanding and vocabulary may not develop in line with age. Your pediatrician and her team at the centre will be happy to advise you on language development and, if necessary, arrange a speech therapy assessment or therapy.


Even if eating behaviour in the first year of life was not easy or even if a tube was necessary, practically all heart children eat after the first birthday like healthy children and begin to enjoy eating. As a result, body weight normalises accordingly. The family table not only provides food but is also important for social development and offers a piece of everyday normality. For this reason, heart children should definitely take part at mealtimes.  


There are no differences from healthy children.  

Getting out of diapers

There are no differences from healthy children.


Bea Latal (2016): Neurodevelopmental outcomes of the child with congenital heart disease. Clinics in Perinatology, 43:173–185