Baby Milestones – The First Year

Watching your baby grow is one of the most amazing and exciting experiences of parenthood. Each infant is individual and will learn and grow at their own pace. Here are some typical milestones month by month...

mommy encouraging baby to crawlWatching your baby grow is one of the most amazing and exciting experiences of parenthood. Each infant is individual and will learn and grow at their own pace. With this in mind, there are some milestones to watch for through baby's first year. The milestones are a general guideline and aren't going to be exact for all children. Below is baby's first year broken down by month.

1st Month
During the first month of life, an infant spends large amounts of time sleeping. There are few activities that are done while awake, these include:

  • Responds to sound
  • Studies faces, can focus on close items that are within 8 to 12 inches
  • Attempts to lift head
  • Strong reflexive responses when cheek is touched or stroked
  • Strong grasp reflex if something is placed in baby’s hand
  • Responds to light

2nd Month
During the second month of life, there is usually a schedule in place that the parents can expect, this is not a hard fast schedule and it varies quite a bit from day to day. Baby is still waking up at night to eat. Waking periods during the day are starting to last longer and while awake your infant can:

  • Tracks toys and movement with eyes
  • Begins to make cooing noises instead of just crying/fussing
  • Starts to attempt to copy simple sounds like ‘oh’ or  ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’
  • Smiles during interactions with mom and other trusted people
  • Baby lifts up head when laying on tummy but is not able to control the movement for long periods of time.

3rd Month
During the third month of life, your infant has started to show a little more personality. Activities are a bit more social than they were a couple months ago when eating and sleeping were all that your baby was interested in. During socializing times your baby will start to:

  • Lift head to a 45 degree angle from the surface that baby is laying on
  • Stiffen legs as if trying to stand when feet are on a hard surface
  • Reach for shiny or dangling objects (many necklaces have been broken due to this)
  • Grasps toys and shakes small hand toys such as rattles
  • Imitates sounds that the infant hears
  • Recognizes people and starts to develop trust of known people as well as distrust and fear of strangers
  • Lifts head with much better muscle control.
  • Starts to develop hand-eye coordination
  • Energetically kicks and moves while awake to expend energy
  • Brings hands together in clapping motion
  • Watches and enjoys circles and spiral patterns
  • Lifts head and chest when laid on tummy and will attempt to move

4th Month
By the time your baby has reached 4 months old, you have learned your baby’s personality. You can tell when your baby is going to want something before the baby starts to fuss. You can start playtime on the floor on a blanket with some toys at this age. When your baby is awake you will notice that baby is able to:

  • Hold up head at a 90 degree angle
  • Lifts head and chest when laid on tummy and will attempt to move
  • Rolls over from tummy to back, will quickly learn how to roll over from back to tummy once this is mastered
  • Taste tests everything that is close enough to get a grip on (exploring everything orally)
  • Recognizes food source (bottle, breast, or otherwise) and reacts
  • Responds to sound
  • Has distinctive cries for fear, discomfort, pain, and even loneliness
  • Tracts items through a 180 degree arc

5th month
By the fifth month of life, your baby is changing from an infant to a baby. The maturity of your little one will amaze you daily. You are able to sleep through most of the night, if not all night by this age. For those babies who don’t sleep through the night, they usually sleep for several hours and wake only a couple hours before you would normally get up anyway. Play time is discovery time for your baby and during this time baby can:

  • See you and other objects from across the room
  • Pays attention to small objects and toys
  • Begins to use hands and other toys as tools to get to wanted toys and other items
  • Begins teething
  • Discovers cause and effect, often this is displayed with simple games of fetch played by baby dropping items and waiting to see if you will pick them up
  • Tries to hold self up when in sitting position, holds head up well at all times

6th Month
By the sixth month of life, your baby is half a year old. At this point, your baby is ready to eat solid foods, your baby has started trying to self feed when allowed, and your baby’s personality is stronger than ever. The things your baby learns will seem as though every time baby gets up something new is mastered. Along with the many other things your baby has mastered your baby is now able to:

  • Make vowel sounds and copy simple two –syllable sounds that are often thought to sound like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’
  • Sit by self with minimal to no support
  • Rolls over and travels short distances on floor by rolling
  • Holds own bottle
  • Can drink from a cup
  • Will open mouth for spoon (often turns head and makes a mess though)
  • Copies facial expressions and will even reproduce them upon demand at times (when told “Make the silly face” baby will make their favorite face that brought all of the laughs last time)
  • Responds to short cues showing that language is understood

7th Month
By the seventh month, your baby is really showing personality. Playtime is looked forward to by both of you. Oral exploration is enjoyed by baby and hand eye coordination is mastered so baby is able to eat finger foods. Choosing the foods you feed your baby carefully is important, there are many foods available that baby can hold and feed self but that doesn’t mean they are nutritious, choose wisely. While baby is growing, you will notice that baby can:

  • Self feed finger foods
  • Looks for the source of sounds
  • Plays simple games such as peek-a-boo
  • Imitates sounds
  • Blows bubbles and ‘raspberries’
  • Can read your emotions from the tone in your voice, will try to avoid you when you are grouchy and will show fear if you are afraid

8th Month
During the eighth month of life, your little one is getting much bigger. You might consider putting up a play gate to keep baby in a specified area for safety. Baby is an explorer and will try to learn everything possible, often by tasting things. It is important to keep small items out of baby’s reach. The last seven months seem to have gone by in an instant; this month will go by the same way if you aren’t careful. While you are watching baby you will notice:

  • Baby chews on toys as new teeth form
  • Baby rolls around the play area
  • Baby is able to sit unsupported
  • Baby seems to have own language and babbles happily to self
  • Baby gets into position to crawl, attempts may also be made to actually crawl
  • Reacts differently to different people.
  • Has favorite people/person
  • Makes specific noises or different cries for different things that baby wants
  • Reacts to someone saying baby’s name
  • Gets anxious if removed from parent
  • Sleep schedule is more structures and can sleep through the night

9th Month
By the ninth month, many babies have their own schedules, their own personalities, and their own routines. Some will attempt to talk at this early age; some will even walk at this young age. You can watch as baby plays with toys independently for short periods of time. Baby can:

  • Reach for toys that are close by
  • Grasp small items
  • Go from laying down to sitting independently
  • Recognize self
  • Will often try to take the utensil while feeding but isn’t quite ready to self feed at this point

10th Month
During the tenth month of life, your baby is growing up fast. You can talk to baby and expect to have an appropriate reaction. Simple phrases should be used when you correct baby, especially when baby is getting into a situation you don’t want. If baby isn’t able to roll/crawl/sit at this point, you might want to discuss it with your pediatrician. Your baby can:

  • Understand object permanence
  • Move toys and other items from one hand to another
  • Stand while holding your fingers or the edges of furniture (some can walk at this young stage)
  • Pulls self to a stand when holding on to furniture
  • Gets upset if toys or other objects are taken away

11th month
By this time, your baby is nearly a year old. At eleven months, your baby has a routine. Your baby has favorite games to play. Your baby enjoys running the house and has learned the limits that you have and how far these limits can be pushed. Your baby can:

  • Understand when you say ‘no’ and other simple/short instructions
  • Greet people
  • Wave bye-bye
  • Say ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ and other simplified names for family members
  • Recognize family members by pictures as well as by name and in person
  • Clap hands in excitement
  • Join in with others while playing short/simple games such as ‘itsy bitsy spider’ and the ‘wheels on the bus’

12th Month
Your baby is a year old, a toddler. At this point in your life, you and your baby share a special bond. You know what your child’s likes and dislikes are. You are able to communicate with your baby, and you can’t remember life without your baby. At this point in life your baby can:

  • Shake head ‘no’
  • Crawl
  • Walk (some babies need a little help for the next month or two with this)
  • Dance to music
  • Has an interest in books
  • Likes to explore and open and shut cabinet doors
  • Climbs on toys and furniture
  • Will give up toys to others without a huge argument (a few months ago you may as well have been trying to take baby’s arm as take a toy that baby is playing with)
  • Is afraid of strangers
  • Understands and follows simple, one step commands—is branching out into two step commands
  • Forms attachments with items
  • Shares belongings for short periods of time
  • Feeds self (messy)
  • Will let you know when they are done with food/drinks instead of trying to devour everything in front of them
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