When it feels like you haven’t slept since your first bout of pregnancy insomnia, those exciting baby milestones (smiles, giggles, even walking and talking) can seem like light years away… far, far too many light years!
But you know what they say: The days are long and the years are short. Your baby will be a whirlwind of activity so soon… and then the fun really begins! ?? Here’s everything you need to know about those exciting baby milestones.
Why Baby Milestones Are So Important
Baby milestones aren’t just exciting, memorable moments for mom and dad—they’re important markers of health and overall wellbeing for your child that signal baby is growing cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically.
Though you’ll find some specifics, like when babies sit up below, “normal development” refers to these skills:
- Gross motor skills: using large groups of muscles, balancing, and changing position (sitting, standing, walking, etc.)
- Fine motor skills: using hands for smaller, more refined movements (playing, eating, etc.)
- Language skills: communicating via body language and understanding what others are saying
- Cognitive skills: more refined thinking skills, like reasoning and remembering
- Social skills: expressing feelings and responding to the feelings of others
All sound a little confusing? Read on to learn what milestones to expect…
What You Need to Know About Baby Monthly Milestones
Remember: This is just a rough guide with some highlights—babies mature at different rates. Although it’s easy to compare your kid to the one at the playground (or even to your first born!), it really isn’t a constructive exercise.
One in six children will have a developmental delay, but that doesn’t mean your baby will face long-term issues. Missing a few monthly milestones is not cause for panic. There are many factors that influence when infant milestones happen. In most cases, your baby just needs a little extra time. Babies born prematurely, for example, are more likely to hit each milestone counting from their due date, not their day of birth.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns.
1 Month Baby Milestones
In month 1, baby is getting acquainted with the outside world.
Reacting to sights and sounds
Researchers believe newborns recognize the sounds of their parent’s—particularly mama’s—voices from birth, so you may notice baby is soothed by the sound of your voice. On the flip side, you may notice that loud noises trigger the Moro reflex, startling baby.
In addition to the Moro reflex, babies should have other innate reflexes, like sucking and rooting.
2 Month Baby Milestones
In month 2, baby’s development centers around his relationship with you and other caregivers.
Paying attention to faces and recognizing people
As baby’s eye sight improves, he/she will begin to focus on the faces of those around him/her. At first, babies see mostly contrasted shapes, but soon they will be able to distinguish features and faces.
Crying is the only way baby can communicate at first. But, much to the delight of mom and dad, soon baby will be able to show delight by cooing (an early form of talking!). Some babies may even start to blow bubbles or make raspberries.
Get that camera ready! A huge and much anticipated baby milestone happens by the end of the second month, when your baby will begin intentionally smiling at you.
Supporting their own head
As babies build muscles, they’ll start to gain enough strength to hold their head up on their own. Here’s how tummy time can help baby get stronger.
3 Month Baby Milestones
In month 3, baby’s working on her coordination.
Connecting sound, sight, and movement
Expect to see your baby watching faces closely. He/she will smile at familiar sounds, track you as you move about the room, and even recognize you from a distance. (source)
Baby will start to develop that all-important hand-eye coordination. She will grab and shake toys, showing off this newfound skill. Soon baby will also be able to bring his hands to his mouth, and reach for objects with one hand.
4 Month Baby Milestones
In month 4, baby’s cognitive, social, and motor skills start to develop at a rapid pace.
Copying sounds, movements, and facial expressions
As babies develop social and communication skills, they often begin by mimicking those around them. You may notice baby copying sounds, movements, and even facial expressions. Experts say imitation is a form of “social glue”—it builds trust—and is vital to the way babies learn. So chat away with your child!
Baby may begin to roll over, but there’s a difference between front-to-back and back-to-front. Some babies can do both right away, while others can’t. By about 7 months, baby should be a pro at rolling in both directions.
Baby will probably begin experimenting with the real building blocks of speech—babbling. This early stage is crucial for both cognitive and emotional development.
After all those bouts of crying, you’ll be delighted to hear baby’s first laugh. And get ready for lots of it: Some estimate baby’s laugh as many as 300 times a day (the average adult laughs only about 20 times per day!). Here’s more information on when babies laugh.
5 Month Baby Milestones
In month 5, baby’s becoming more expressive and preparing for crawling, pulling himself up, and walking.
Smiling at the mirror
Although she may not be able to recognize herself for a few more months, your baby will love getting some face time in front of a mirror. Babies like to track faces and the novelty of watching their own can often extend tummy time.
Expressing new emotions
Babies begin to be more assertive and show more interactive emotions, like excitement, delight, and even, frustration. Maybe she’ll be loud and boisterous or quiet and calm. Either way, watching your baby develop can be thrilling.
Refining basic movements
Your baby will become quite the intrepid explorer as he discovers the joy of grabbing his toes and finding other wiggly, jiggly body parts. Baby will start bringing objects to his mouth. His lips and tongue are more accustomed to fine motor function (through feeding!), so it makes sense that baby will want to explore objects this way!
6 Month Baby Milestones
In month 6, baby’s narrowing in on his communication and motor skills.
Responding to their own name
Babies begin to develop the familiar call and response model of human communication by their half birthday—they might respond to sounds by vocalizing, taking turns in conversation, and responding to their own name. What’s more, expect to hear baby stringing vowel sounds together (oohs and ahhs galore!) and attempt some consonant sounds.
Moving… a lot
At this point in babies’ development, they will display some huge milestones in movement. Baby will be rolling over competently in both directions. With all this rolling over, don’t be surprised to see your little one attempt crawling. Many babies begin crawling by moving backward or scooting while sitting. (See more on when do babies crawl.)
Baby will soon be sitting unsupported! Get more information on how, when, and why babies sit up. If baby’s not quite there yet, don’t be tempted to use Bumbo seats—those booster seats that prop baby into a sitting position. Physical therapists say these chairs don’t help baby along. Instead they teach baby incorrect postural alignment.
“No equipment enhances a child’s motor development; equipment is a ‘baby sitter’ so that a parent can cook dinner, eat dinner or take a shower. A gross motor skill like sitting is achieved through movement and practice.” —Colleen Harper, director of developmental, rehabilitative and child life services at Chicago’s La Rabida Children’s Hospital
7 Month Baby Milestones
In month 7, baby’s eyesight is improving, allowing for more coordination.
Transfering objects from one hand to another
While your baby has explored objects by touch and mouth for months now, around month 7, baby will start transferring objects from from one hand to another, displaying spatial awareness.
Babies eye control and eye-body coordination becomes more refined. Improved depth perception allows babies to reach for toys and other objects. What’s more, babies’ color vision should be fairly strong by this age!
8 Month Baby Milestones
In month 8, baby is on the move and better able to communicate with you.
Learning object permanence
Their brains continue to amaze as they start to understand object permanence. This is the psychological phenomenon that helps folks understand that when something disappears from view, it doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever. (In other words, when mommy leaves the room, she will come back.) It may seem like small potatoes to grown adults, but think of the amazing intellectual leaps this takes for infants!
The developmental milestone of crawling may not happen all at once or in a linear fashion—and some babies will only crawl for a short period of time. Others babies won’t crawl the way you’d expect to, crawling sideways or scooting their bottom along the floor. (Watch the developmental stages of crawling in this short and hilarious video!)
Crawling is very important—it not only strengthens baby’s muscles, but it also improves baby’s brain function.
It’s tempting to hold baby up and try to teach them to walk—it’s such an exciting time—but a little bit of patience can really help baby. Experts say crawling improves hand-eye coordination, plus improves comprehension, concentration, and memory.
Saying first words
Your baby will be communicating now more than ever by the end of these months. She will be repeating sounds like “bababa” or, very adorably, “mamama.” (Though fair warning, mamas: Baby is likely to say Dada first.) Additionally, words start to carry meaning at this stage. You’ll find she understands simple words like, “no.” What’s more, she’ll begin to use her fingers to point, further associating movement with communication and comprehension.
9 Month Baby Milestones
In month 9, baby’s brain is working hard—he/she is starting to use objects for their intended purpose.
Babies should be able to stand holding on to your hands. You may even witness your baby pulling himself up.
Those jerky arm movements have long since disappeared. Babies are now able to wield objects more efficiently. Their improved dexterity might mean banging or shaking toys (or anything else they can get their hands on! Careful!)
This baby milestone also indicates increased cognitive function. You may notice baby beginning to use household objects for their intended purpose. For example, they may mimic drinking out of a cup (or actually do so!). This will also become apparent with pretend play, which should be just about starting. Look forward to baby pretending to talk on the phone and engaging in other imaginative play.
10 Month Baby Milestones
In month 10, the fun really begins—baby understands and engages in simple games.
Baby may be walking while holding onto you or furniture. Check out our video on the stages of walking to get a better idea of what the lead up to the first steps will look like!
Playing interactive games
By this point, babies can understand simple games (think peekaboo), find hidden objects, or take things in and out of a container. Encourage all of these behaviors! They will help develop those all important fine motor skills and every bit of playtime is also learning time.
11 Month Baby Milestones
In month 11, you’ll notice baby’s flourishing personality and his/her desire to explore.
Starting to explore
Baby will take all of those newfound gross motor skills like sitting, crawling, and cruising to start checking everything out. No cabinet or shelf is safe, my friends! Take steps to baby proof and make extra sure cleaning supplies, toiletries, and medicine cabinets are well off limits for baby. Better yet, work on getting any toxic junk out of your house! (See how to make natural cleaners for your home.)
Developing their distinct personality
Babies start to understand emotions better, reading and reacting to your emotional state. This level of communication and interaction deepens as they are able to use their bourgeoning vocabulary to state what they want and need.
12 Month Baby Milestones
In month 12, baby’s brain has more than doubled in size! He/she is walking and talking.
Beginning to walk
Here’s another developmental milestone you’ve been waiting for! Around 12 months, babies may begin to walk! They may still need a bit of help or support, but the pitter patter of those precious little feet are on the horizon.
Improving language skills
Watch out! At this stage, children should start repeating the words you say. They should already have a small vocabulary, and they will be practicing simple gestures like waving bye or shaking their head yes and no.
Baby Milestones Chart
|Month 1: Baby is getting acquainted with the outside world. ||• Reacting to sights and sounds|
• Displaying reflexes
|Month 2: Baby’s development centers around his relationship with you and other caregivers.||• Paying attention to faces and recognizing people|
• Supporting their own head
|Month 3: Baby’s working on her coordination.||• Connecting sound, sight, and movement|
• Grasping objects
|Month 4: Baby’s cognitive, social, and motor skills start to develop at a rapid pace.||• Copying sounds, movements, and facial expressions|
• Rolling over
|Month 5: Baby’s becoming more expressive and preparing for crawling, pulling himself up, and walking.||• Smiling at the mirror|
• Expressing new emotions
• Refining basic movements
|Month 6: Baby’s narrowing in on his communication and motor skills.||• Responding to their own name|
• Moving… a lot
|Month 7: Baby’s eyesight is improving, allowing for more coordination.||• Transfering objects from one hand to another|
• Improving vision
|Month 8: Baby is on the move and better able to communicate with you.||• Learning object permanence|
• Saying first words
|Month 9: Baby’s brain is working hard—he/she is starting to use objects for their intended purpose. ||• Standing|
• Improved dexterity
|Month 10: The fun really begins—baby understands and engages in simple games.||• Cruising|
• Playing interactive games
|Month 11: You’ll notice baby’s flourishing personality and his/her desire to explore. ||• Starting to explore|
• Developing their distinct personality
|Month 12: Baby’s brain has more than doubled in size! He/she is walking and talking. ||• Beginning to walk|
• Improving language skills
What to Do If Your Baby Isn’t Meeting Milestones
All of baby’s firsts are important, but missing a few monthly milestones is usually not cause for panic.
Your baby’s doctor will be watching for baby’s developmental milestones during each well child visit. If there’s any concern, the pediatrician may recommend a developmental assessment test to determine if any treatment or intervention is needed.
If your doctor gives the all clear, but you still have concerns, get a second opinion. Remember: You know your child’s movements and patterns best. Even if it is just a nagging feeling, never be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns.
How About You?
Baby milestones are so exciting for parents—there’s nothing like seeing your baby grow (or finding out what color his eyes will ultimately be. Share your favorite memories and any funny stories you may have below. We’d love to hear them.