Babies grow at all different rates. The one thing you can count on is that nearly all babies will hit the same milestones around the same time. Knowing what these milestones are, you can judge whether your baby is growing at a proper rate or if you need more medical help.
What are Baby and Infant Development Milestones?
Developmental milestones are markers in a baby and child life that show they are progressing at a normal rate. These will include things such as sitting up, running, being able to do arithmetic, and going through puberty. There is health milestone that will follow you your entire life but today we are just going to deal with the milestones through age one.
Your baby's developmental milestones are considered universal. No matter what country you go to, babies will start to sit up and talk around the same time. There are some developmental milestones that are more culturally based. For example, there are parts of Africa that believe babies and children should nurse until the ages of 3 or 4. This differs from the Americas and Europe which allow a baby to wean themselves as needed. Both of these are considered correct and appropriate for their area.
We began paying attention to developmental milestones when we noticed some children were not developing as others did. We are to use the milestone as a gauge to know the health and mental abilities of different children. Today, we use the milestones to judge the development and use it to compare against the autism and gifted spectrums.
The Pediatric Associations chose certain developmental based on what we thought as normal and healthy for children. Of course, we know these normal developmental milestone will happen to various children at slightly different times.
It is perfectly normal for one sibling to develop the ability to talk before another might. This actually happened with my sister and me. According to my parents, I began to talk at five months of age. My sister, started to closer to 10 months. The main reason for this was I had no one to help me communicate. Then I, being the older sister, took it as my responsibility to help my sister and I spoke for her. Since she understood the words that were said and talked in her unusual way, her developmental milestones remained identical to mine, but the perception of her being able to talk as we talk differed.
Mental Development Milestones
When Can Babies See?
Babies have the ability to see right after they are born. Many mothers are familiar with their babies being able to lock eyes and look right away. However, their ability to distinguish what they can see does not develop for many months. By the end of the first month, they have just gained the ability to focus on an object. Most of the time, when babies recognize something it is because it is close.
Around the age of 3 months, babies are able to start following objects with their eyes and be able to distinguish between objects. It takes until about month 6 that babies are able to distinguish depth and understand objects are not all close to them. This is why you will find young babies reaching for objects and becoming frustrated when they can’t reach them. They simply don’t understand the object is not right in front of them.
When Do Babies Recognize Their Parents?
Some authorities believe that babies recognize their mothers as soon as they are born. It comes from the recognition of the heartbeat. Other authorities believe the parents imprint themselves upon the baby once the baby is born and have contact with them.
By the age of one month, your baby will start to recognize your features once they are close enough. They are able to distinguish between you and others around this time. By the age of 3 months to 6 months, they are able to distinguish multiple other people and the differences between people and animals. They should be able to recognize you in a picture, even if they don’t understand what the picture is.
When Do Babies See Color?
The rods and cones within a baby’s eye, the structures that allow us to see color, are developed as soon as the babies eyes develop in the womb. They are able to distinguish colors as soon as they are born. However, some pediatricians believe up until about the age of one month, babies are not actually able to understand the differences between colors and be able to distinguish them. It takes time for your baby to develop the mental pathways to be able to distinguish colors.
When Do Babies Make Eye Contact?
Babies make eye contact upon being born. Many mothers are familiar with their babies locking eyes the first time the mother holds the baby in her arms. Just know, like we mentioned earlier, that babies are unable to focus on any object closer than one foot when they are born. It takes several months of development before they are able to focus on objects that are farther away from them.
When Do Babies Recognize Faces?
This is a question that confounds pediatricians. It appears many babies are able to recognize the face of their mother as soon as they are born. Although, some are not. Scientists are not sure if babies have an instinctual reaction to a face, or if in the first few moments of being born, being face to face with another person imprints that recognition on to the baby. In any case, as long as you were close enough to your baby, your baby should recognize a face. Within 3 to 6 months, your baby will recognize other faces and even be able to distinguish a face in a picture.
When Do Babies Recognize Their Name?
This is a very tough question. And we really don’t have a good answer for it. The biggest question that we have is how often do you say your baby’s name?
Babies respond to things they know. Your baby will come to recognize his or her name as something that is said often. Then, they will begin to understand that the word that is being said is their designation. How often you say your baby’s name and how you connect that name with your baby will determine when your baby begins to recognize their name.
This can happen anywhere from 5 months to 7 months. Although, if you use nicknames or cute names, it can stunt your baby’s ability to recognize their own name.
When Do Babies Find Their Hands?
Your baby will have found their hands by the end of the third month. By this time, they will be trying to fit their whole fist into their mouth, sucking on their thumb, and begin the reaching motions. Control doesn’t actually develop until month 4 to month 6.
When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?
Is this not the question parents have asked from the beginning of time? The real answer is very complicated. Some babies will sleep through the night as soon as they come home from the hospital. Others may not sleep through the night for several years. And even if your baby does start to sleep through the night, there are several milestones that can cause your baby to switch back to being awake every couple hours.
Around the 3-month to 4-month mark, there is a growth spurt that happens that can cause your baby to either be awake during the night or sleep deeper. Another growth spurt happens between the 8th month and 12th month. Again, it will adjust your baby’s sleep schedule.
Your schedule will also help determine whether your baby sleeps through the night. Being consistent with bedtime and wake time will help your baby to create a schedule and allow them the comfort to sleep through the night. While the theory of letting a baby cry it out has been disproved, some authorities still believe that letting your baby cry just a little bit before getting up in the middle of the night will help extend periods of sleep. We only found one example of this, so we are not sure if it is an approved theory.
Language Development Milestones
When Does a Baby Start Babbling? When Do Babies Say Their First Word? When Do Babies Start Talking?
Within the first month, your baby will start to mimic the sounds you make. These may be complete nonsense, or may even sound like single syllables. First bubbling words come around 6 to 8 months. True first words come anywhere from 9 to 12 months. Actual conversation can come as early as 2 years or as late as 3 years.
Of course, like we said earlier, it all depends on the situation. If you read to your child and use good language skills, your child will speak earlier. If you try too hard to speak for them, there are language skills will be delayed.
Physical Development Milestones
When Do Babies Grow Hair?
Your baby’s hair begins to grow in the womb. Around the 7th month of pregnancy, your baby will begin to develop their hair follicles to produce their first hair. Most of the hair they grow is very fine. As your baby develops outside the womb, their hair starts filling. Full hair growth is not achieved until after puberty, and you’ll find that hair color will often change between birth and puberty.
When Do Babies Smile?
The intentional smile does not start until 6 weeks through 8 weeks. So your baby will not begin to mimic your smile until then. There could be instances where, through reflex, your baby will look like he or she is smiling. You should judge a true smile by the ability of you smiling and causing your baby to smile in response.
When Do Babies Laugh?
Laughter is a big milestone for babies. It happens between 3 to 4 months. And just like with anything else, the more you interact with your child, the faster it will happen.
When Do Babies Wave?
Moving arms and hands around is a reflex and begins to happen in the womb. When a baby is born, they will flail their arms and legs around when upset. As your baby ages, they will begin to move their arms and legs around and rhythmic patterns to get attention and to express emotion.
True "bye bye" waving will happen somewhere between 7 months to 1 year. They begin to mimic the response of you waving to them to say hello or goodbye.
When Do Babies Grab Their Feet?
What’s a baby discovers their feet, it is a source of endless fascination for them. Their feet are close enough that they can see them clearly right from the start, yet they are far enough away that they cannot grab them easily. A baby will try and grab their feet as soon as they discover them.
As a general rule, babies aren’t actually able to coordinate their limbs enough to grab their feet until about the 4-month of age. It is only then that they are able to develop the muscle control to pull their feet towards their body and extend their hands towards their feet.
When Do Babies Start Clapping?
Babies will begin to push their hands together and create noise as soon as they can maneuver their hands. The true act of clapping does not happen until 7 months to 9 months.
When Do Babies Hold Their Head Up?
This can happen as early as 2 weeks and go as long as two months. Around four weeks, it is generally accepted that the developmental milestone of turning the head side to side and beginning the control over neck muscles happens. Just like other emotions, the baby discovers a whole new world when they are able to move their neck.
You can help your baby with this. The head is a very heavy limb. Your baby may want to try and lift his or her head, but may not have the muscle control. Provide your baby with enough tummy time. That will help him or her develop the muscles. Starting your baby off on an incline will help to reduce the weight on the muscles and encourage them to pick their head up sooner.
When Do Babies Roll Over? When Do Babies Sit Up on Their Own?
Shortly after picking up their heads, babies will try to move and roll over. By 6 months, your baby should be able to roll over on his or her own. By 7 months, your baby should be able to pick him or herself up into a sitting position. You may also find by six to seven months that your baby begins crawling.
When Do Babies Start Reaching for Things?
Babies seem to have a natural reaction to grabbing onto different objects.
You will have to see when your baby starts reaching for things purposefully. This can happen between six weeks and two months of age. At first, you may notice that your baby begins waving a fist or their hand at the object. Once they are able to control their hand gestures, they will be reaching for the object.
When Do Babies Crawl?
Crawling begins between six months and eight months. It is a natural progression from the rolling over and the search for new objects. You’ll begin to notice that your baby does swimming motions. It’s only when they realize they need to push against the floor that they will start to move.
Once they start crawling, it will happen very fast. It will almost seem as if they go from flailing around to speeding away from you instantly. The freedom and the ability to move allow a baby to learn very fast how to coordinate their limbs for motion.
When Do Babies Start Walking?
Technically, babies will be walking around 1 year of age. Although, if you asked a hundred parents, you will get a hundred different answers. Some babies begin walking as early as 8 months. While others may take up to 2 years to begin walking.
There are many different factors for this. The more the baby sees the parent walking around, the more likely they are to try and mimic this action. But don’t worry if this milestone is slightly delayed. Motion and a desire to move around is also important factor.
When Do Babies Start Teething?
Around the 6th month of age, teeth begin to break through the gums. It is normal for most children to go through this stage anywhere from 4 months to one year of age. And they can go through it for up to three years.
When Do Babies Start Eating Solids?
This is a more complicated question. Your baby can typically start eating foods after 4-6 months of age. But, they can't start eating chunks of food until after their teeth have come in. Without teeth, they are unable to chew their food.
Many cultures will argue when it is best to start introducing food to your baby. Some believe it should start as early as possible, while others believe it should be delayed as long as possible. We tend to side with the doctors in America, that when your baby start showing interest in what you are eating, to allow them tastes.
We do not recommend that you try to force your baby to eat food. Breast milk is best and healthiest for your baby until your baby begins to reject it. By introducing food to your baby too often, you run the risk of having them reject breast milk too early. Breast milk contains perfect nutrition for your child and vital antibodies and probiotics from you, the mother.
Typical Development Milestone
When we look at baby developmental milestones month by month, we can get a clear picture of your baby's developmental stages. Many of the stages are broken down in one-month cycles. We think you’ll find your baby’s major developmental milestones are close to what we described, but they may not match exactly. Each child will grow at its own pace. We want you to use this guide as a reference, not as a substitute for a doctor’s advice. If you feel your baby is not developing as they should, we highly recommend you talk to a doctor.
1 Month Baby Milestones
By the end of the first month, your baby will have developed greatly. They should have gained around 1 kg in weight and around 1 inch in length. They’re able to move their body a bit better, although they do not have great muscle control and they don’t have strength in their muscles, yet.
At this point, they should be able to focus on your face when you are near them. They will begin to start recognizing certain faces and understand that the face is more important than other objects. They will begin to be able to lift their head slightly when lying on their belly and turn their head side to side when lying on their back.
They do not yet have control of their arms or hands, and they will try to place their hands on their face and in their mouths. Coordination is not yet developed, so this looks like a very clumsy gesture.
You can help the development along by encouraging different motions. Make sure they have plenty of time to spend on their belly. This encourages them to move their head around, lift their head, and eventually to crawl. Make sure you also read, talk to, and play with your baby. This not only encourages connection between you and your baby but will also increase their understanding of language and speed along their ability to talk.
The most crucial time for connection with your baby occurs within the first month. Make sure you spend plenty of time cuddling and holding your baby. This will ensure they recognize who you are and that you are safe. Holding your baby also puts you at the perfect distance for them to be able to look at you and recognize your face.
3 Month Baby Milestones
By three months of age, your baby is able to interact with you. They develop the ability to smile and to laugh. Their limb coordination has increased and they are able to reach out and grab objects. You’ll notice that they prefer shiny objects at this time as well.
They’re able to use their limbs better now. You might notice your baby crawling attempts when lying on his belly. Their desire to see the world and their explorations have begun to take over.
They are also becoming more vocal. They are able to form sounds, and your baby should have begun to babble at this point. They are also able to discern distances and may be able to recognize you in a crowd.
You should definitely be keeping up with reading to your baby and talking to them. As they begin to develop words and sounds, their ability to mimic you is critical. Do continue with playtime and tummy time, so they can develop muscle strength in order to be able to crawl.
7 Month Baby Milestones
Between the time of 4 months and 6 months, your baby develops many important abilities. By 7 months, your baby should have developed several of the following traits.
By now, your baby should be able to sit on his own. They might be able to crawl around and be mobile. They can stand with leverage, and be able to bounce when you hold them. Their ability to get into mischief manifests at this point.
They should be able to hold on babbling conversations, with a few random words mixed in.
There is a firm understanding at this point of self and other. Mirror time, where baby plays in front of the mirror, can be highly entertaining. Your baby has also developed much more coordination and is able to follow objects at a farther distance and they have developed depth perception.
Keep reading and talking to your baby. This helps stimulate their mental development. Also, you want to make sure as they become more mobile, your house has become baby proof. During the 4 months to 7 months time, your baby will have gone through a growth spurt and may become more clingy. That’s okay and normal.
As your baby develops more independent traits, you may want to start introducing new objects and food. At 6 months of age, your baby is able to start eating food.
12 Month Baby Milestones
At your baby’s first year milestones, you’ll have noticed a huge change in your baby. From the completely dependent newborn, to a mobile exploring machine, your baby is fast growing.
Talk and mobility will be defining this stage. By now, your baby probably has said his first words and is able to get around quite independently. Most of this may still be crawling, but walking should not be far behind.
Along with talking, they will begin to have preferences. They will like certain foods, certain tasks, and certain people. They will be able to indicate to you whether they like or dislike something.
The coordination is growing fast. They are able to grab certain objects, they understand in and out, and they’re fascinated by different textures. They may enjoy touching their hair or your hair and truly desire shiny objects.
They will begin to mimic you more and more. They may want the same food that you have and mimic talking on the phone. But in complete contrast to this, their fear of strangers starts to develop more and they may resist being put with someone they don’t know.
More than ever, make sure you keep talking and reading to your baby. As their language skills develop, they will mimic you as much as possible. Also, give them as much chance to explore as possible. They are naturally curious and want to learn more. Taking them to parks, museums, and other baby safe locations help them to understand the world is a safe place and develop a lifelong desire to continue to explore.
Since they had begun developing a mistrust of strangers, make sure to expose them to a lot of different people. They need to understand the difference between the stranger and someone who cares for them. But, this lesson is far too advanced for them to be told. Having a firm grasp on who you enjoy being around and who you did not will help them to develop an understanding of friend versus stranger.
And finally, begin to set boundaries. Let them know what behaviors are acceptable with praise and what behaviors are not by saying no. Most babies will respond very well to the word no and understand that is a limit.
As your baby grows and develops, you want to keep exposing them to new words, new situations, and new people. As the world expands, you can have a tremendous amount of fun with them by learning to be a kid yourself again.
And remember that all milestones might not be perfect for your child. If you feel your baby is not developing close to what we recommend, visit a doctor. They will be able to evaluate your child to make sure there are no problems.
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