Milestones are a great way to monitor your baby’s progression, incorporate ways to improve their age-appropriate skills into every day play, and feel prepared for each new stage as your baby reaches it. While it is easy to compare in a competitive manner with others about whose baby has reached a certain milestone earliest, it’s better to just enjoy each individual child’s pace, and not become anxious or possibly make others worried about how quickly each milestone is reached
What to expect the first year
It is truly amazing how many basic skills we master as an infant that allow us to go about our days in a functional manner as adults. These skills can be grouped into different categories, for the sake of tracking developmental progress:
- Gross motor skills – these include more generalized physical movements
- Fine motor skills – these include more specific physical movements, mostly with the hands
- Social development – this includes interactions with other people
- Language development – this includes not only verbal skills, but also thought processes such as problem-solving skills
Of course, each baby will develop at his or her own pace, to some degree. Sometimes a baby will be ahead in one area, right at the milestone age for another area, and behind in another area, all at once, and that’s perfectly normal. If a child is missing a milestone for an extended period of time, or if the doctor and parents are concerned about missed milestones, an evaluation can be done to see what interventions could benefit him or her.
Some of these interventions include participating in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy – and often, there are many things the parents or caregivers can do at home first to help their baby continue to develop. The key isn’t necessarily an exact date that your baby should be able to do something by, but rather, a steady forward progression of skills.
That being said, parents and teachers are often the first to see the signs of a need for intervention, by intuition or by looking at the time frames around milestones. This is because they are the ones who are spending large amounts of time with the child, and may notice patterns that a short doctor’s visit would not reveal.
Of course, the more you interact with your baby in general, by talking with her, playing with toys with her, singing to her, making different facial expressions for her, reading with her, holding her, allowing her to experience new things, and providing enough down time at home where she’s not confined to just the crib or swing, will allow her to develop skills naturally.
One Month Milestones –
Around one month, your newborn baby will be lifting his head up from your chest when you hold him, or from the ground when participating in floor play (often called “tummy time”). He should be able to move his head to either side when on his belly. Of course, he should be attended at all times when on his stomach at this age, because he may get stuck at times; he will get tired, maybe only after a few seconds. Make sure tummy time is done on a smooth, flat, but comfortable surface – foam mats can be used to convert an area of harder flooring, or even over carpet.
Also around this time, your baby will start noticing things in close range (8-12 inches away). Unlike her ever changing and improving vision, she is born with her full hearing, and may startle at sounds like a door closing, another baby crying, etc. She probably recognizes immediate family members’ voices and is comforted by their conversations.
At this stage, he will probably notice toys that have faces. He will possibly notice things that contrast a lot, such as dark curtains against a light wall. He may like your black and white striped shirt, and there’s a reason – he still sees mostly black and white at this age.
What to expect the first year
Two Month Milestones –
One of the most prominent two month markers is the start of your baby making noises such as “cooing” or “gurgling.”She will likely make an “ahhh” sound first. At this point, she’s as likely talking to the bright lights on the ceiling as she is to her doll or you, but even so, you will get to enjoy her new antics during her calmer play times.
As for physical development, you will notice your baby has less jerky arm and leg movements, and should move all of his limbs about the same amount over a period of time. His fists will probably open and close, and grasp at your finger when you place it near his hand. He may touch his own face or clasp his own hands.
Three Month Milestones –
While your baby has probably been giving you “sleepy smiles” for a while now, she will start to smile in response to things you say or do, or other stimuli. She will follow objects as they move across her range of view, such as a bottle or toy. She may even take a swing at a dangling toy!
Around this time, your newborn will lift not only his head, but also start to raise his body up during tummy time. Between now and six months, your baby will learn how to roll over. Usually, he will first learn to roll from his stomach to his back, and later, from his back to his stomach.
While she previously may have ignored many noises in her sleepy, newborn state, she may now investigate sudden noises, especially loud ones. Your baby will also recognize objects she has seen before, such as toys or books.
Four Month Milestones –
Your baby will push her body up with her hands during tummy time, and push her legs against the ground if you hold her in a standing position. By this time, your baby should have really good head control. She will begin to reach for things around her and grasp them in a more coordinated fashion.
He will “talk back” to you when you talk to him, in the form of coos as well as imitations of your speech. Also, you may experience the joyous sound of your baby’s laughter at this time, so bring on the silly faces and noises.
This is around the age most babies are able to sleep through the night, much to your relief, exhausted parents!
Five Month Milestones –
If not earlier, around five months your baby will be able to roll over in both directions. He will be conscious of his own hands and feet, and may even spend long periods of time studying them.
Your baby will be Interested in new sounds, and recognize her own name at this age. She may engage in blowing bubbles with her mouth, as she explores all she can do with her tongue and lips.
He will likely notice and enjoy different bright colors at this time, and express interest in especially colorful toys. Your baby will develop a sense of object permanence around this time (realizing that things still exist even when they can no longer see them – this is why your baby will be surprised time and again during a game of peek-a-boo!).
Six Month Milestones –
Your baby will be able to sit, although he may still need some support. During floor time, he may lunge like he is going to crawl. He may also scoot (some babies skip crawling and go straight to walking), or “army crawl,” that is, dragging himself along as low as possible to the ground, with just his arms.
Everything will go into the mouth at this age – your baby will be able to reach for an object and bring it to his mouth after retrieving it.
Often, doctors recommend solid foods are introduced at 6 months and even sooner, or whenever your baby is able to sit up. The introduction of solids will help in developing the skills your baby needs to feed himself, as well as get your baby used to different textures and tastes.
Seven Month Milestones –
Your baby will be able to sit without support. While sitting, she will probably display several new skills, such as being able to pull a toy toward herself using a sweeping motion of her arm. That would be more of a gross motor skill that you can expect her to master at this age; a fine motor skill she will develop at this age is the ability to pass a toy from one hand to another.
What to expect the first year
Eight Month Milestones –
Your baby may start to say dada and mama at this age – but don’t be surprised if you are both referred to by the same name, or both names, for a while!
If your baby is a crawler, he should be a professional at this point, getting around quite quickly. He might quite possibly start experimenting with pulling up on furniture, even if walking is still a ways away.
Another fun skill that will be developed at this age in the language development area is that your baby will begin to point at things, and attempt to communicate through some gestures. Some parents choose to teach their children a few simple signs based on American Sign Language at this stage, to help them communicate when they are hungry, all done, want to play, etc. This way, they can communicate before they can speak words, resulting in potentially less frustration.
Nine Month Milestones –
Nothing within reach is safe anymore! Your baby will be able to bang things together, throw things, and stand – though most likely only while supported. He may walk around using furniture to hold him up, which is called “cruising.”
Your baby’s hands are developing more fine motor skills around this age – she may eat finger foods off her high chair tray, and will use the “pincer grasp” to accomplish manipulating small pieces of food and objects – that is, her thumb and forefinger.
She may also wave good-bye, which she also associates with the meaning of the words bye-bye (that is, someone, or herself, leaving).
Socially, at this age babies often have stranger anxiety – anyone unfamiliar can be deeply unsettling. Your baby will outgrow any extreme reaction a little later on.
Ten Month Milestones –
Finally, when your baby calls out “Mama!”now, she might actually be referring to you specifically! She should also understand the word, “No,” at this point, to some degree – thankfully, she probably won’t be saying that for a little while longer.
Your baby will start to stack toys as he plays, so get out the blocks!
A game that you might not like this age for involves dropping objects repeatedly from a shopping cart, high chair, or over a baby gate, to see what happens, and what you will do. A ten month old finds reactions, and consequences, very interesting.
Eleven Month Milestones –
Often a skill mastered around this age is the ability to drink from a cup (although breast fed babies may not be introduced to this quite yet, as they don’t even need extra water until past twelve months). You can say bye-bye to bottles very soon!
Your baby should be able to stand all by herself – although possibly only briefly. While playing, you will observe your baby has the ability to puts toys inside containers, and may enjoy learning “in and out.” A favorite game at this age may be pat-a-cake.
Your baby will understand simple commands, such as, “Take this to Daddy,” or “Give me your cup,” or “Let’s go outside.” Of course, he may not always react the way you intend for him to.
Twelve Month Milestones –
You may find your baby imitating everything you do, from talking on the phone, to making dinner, to other activities. A play kitchen may be a great first birthday present!
His first steps may be taken around this time, although many babies wait a few more months – or he may have been walking for a couple of months already! The norm here is 9-14 months. Another skill he may master around this time will be stooping from a standing position, without falling all of the way down. This takes some balance!
A few more words may enter his vocabulary, as he imitates you and observes as you point out the names of things around you.
She may scribble on paper or books with a crayon, although coloring in the lines will not be a remote thought until much later.
Milestones are a great way to monitor your baby’s progression, incorporate ways to improve their age-appropriate skills into every day play, and feel prepared for each new stage as your baby reaches it. While it is easy to compare in a competitive manner with others about whose baby has reached a certain milestone earliest, it’s better to just enjoy each individual child’s pace, and not become anxious or possibly make others worried about how quickly each milestone is reached. As your baby’s motor skills, social skills, and language skills develop, you will likely find great joy and pride in their growth – don’t forget to update the baby calendar or the baby book!
Did your baby pass all these milestones? Did he or she had a hard time with one of them? We will be happy to hear from your experience.