Whether you’re a seasoned parent or a first-time mom, the first year of your child’s life is a time of change and uncertainty. Just when you figure out what your baby likes, he changes his mind. His growth will be similar. One day he’s just learning to roll over, and the next he’s crawling.
Knowing what developmental milestones to expect during infancy may help ease your mind as your baby grows. Just remember, each baby is different. Try not to compare your baby with someone else’s.
First month home
Your newborn is sleeping a lot. Her main task at this age is to learn to feed and grow. Your baby will respond to skin-on-skin contact and other comforts you give. During this first month your baby will:
- Turn toward the sound of your voice
- Startle at loud noises or when she feels like she’s falling (such as when the doctor lifts her arms above her head and lets go to test what’s called the Moro reflex)
- Automatically begin to suck when her mouth or lips are touched (the “rooting reflex”)
- Grasp things placed in the palm of her hand
During this first month get to know your baby! Cuddle, sing, and talk to her. She may not like it, but remember to do tummy time every day. Hold her close so you can make eye contact.
You’ve made it past the first month of infancy with your baby. Now your baby should start interacting more with you. He’s also starting to interact with the world around him. Developmental milestones for this age include:
- Raising his head and chest briefly during tummy time
- Bringing his hands to his mouth
- Gripping objects and opening and closing his hands
- Reaching for dangling objects (even if he can’t get them)
- Playing with his fingers
- Smiling and trying to get you to smile back
- Tracking objects and better eye control
- Pushing his legs down flat when he’s on a flat surface
During this phase you should be spending a lot of time with your baby. Don’t worry about spoiling him. Responding quickly lets your baby know he’s secure.
Keep doing tummy time. Cuddle, read books, talk and sing to him, and consider introducing a pacifier to help him to self-soothe.
Your baby is getting louder. She may be experimenting with her voice as she squeals and makes other noises. You’ll probably also notice she’s getting better at gripping things and moving her hands to do what she wants them to do. Milestones include:
- Babbling with consonant sounds and laughing
- Pushing up on her arms while doing tummy time
- Sitting up with support
- Enjoying play time
- Good head control
- Rolling over (you’ll probably noticed she can only do front to back at first, but soon it’ll be both directions)
- Reaching for and grabbing objects
- Switching an object from hand to hand
- Crying if mom or dad are out of sight
- Recognizing familiar faces
- Supporting her whole weight when she’s on her legs and held upright
Your baby loves interacting with you. Encourage play in all of your interactions with your baby. Give her opportunities to play with age-appropriate toys and household objects. This is also a good time to begin establishing regular routines for sleep, playtime, and feedings.
By six months, you can start introducing your baby to solid foods.
Your baby is probably mobile, which means it’s time to start babyproofing your home. His first stage is usually “army crawling” on his arms and legs. But soon your baby will be doing a normal crawl on his hands and knees. But if your baby isn’t crawling, don’t panic! Some babies go straight from scooting to walking. Other common milestones include:
- Playing simple games like peekaboo
- Responding to shows of emotion
- He may try to climb up stairs
- He’s likely to have some stranger and separation anxiety
- Babbling becomes more complex
- Sitting without support (eventually he’ll also be able to get in and out of the sitting position without help)
- Responding to his name or words like “no”
- Pulling up to a standing position and walking along furniture
- Putting objects into a container and then taking them out
This time is a great time to encourage your baby to learn new skills. Give him time and a safe space to explore. As he plays he’ll develop his skills. Talk to your baby often and play games like peekaboo.
During this last phase of infancy, your baby might look and act more like a toddler than a baby. She’s growing and developing by leaps and bounds. Developmentally, you may be seeing your baby doing the following:
- Cruising around the room while standing and holding onto furniture
- Waving bye-bye
- Playing games at mealtimes (such as dropping her spoon over and over again)
- Begin talking (a few basic words like “mama” and “dada” at first)
- Picking up small objects between her thumb and forefinger, which makes it possible for her to start feeding herself
- Turning pages while you read
- Holding a spoon by herself
- Helping while you’re dressing him (pushing her arms through her sleeves)
- Stacking and sorting objects during play
- Pointing at objects
- Copying you in pretend play (for example, by holding a phone to her ear)
She may begin walking during this phase, but this can vary for different children. Many babies walk at their first birthday, but some won’t until later. Don’t be too worried if she’s not interested in walking yet.
Your baby is almost a toddler. Read to her. Play games with her. Encourage her to keep building her skills in safe ways, and give her praise for good behavior. She’ll develop quickly during these months.
When to see your doctor
The guidelines above are a rough estimate for the development of your baby. You should remember, however, that each child grows and develops at their own pace. For example, some babies may be slow to crawl, or may not crawl at all, but will walk early.
Discuss any concerns you might have about your baby’s development with your doctor. Trust your instincts. Often they’re right. If you feel like the development of your baby isn’t on track, speak up during your child’s well-baby check-ups.