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Developmental Milestones During Baby’s First Year

September 26, 2019, Author: Tamra Cater

developmental milestones during baby's first year

During your baby’s first year of life, there are so many things that happen in terms of development! You begin with a newborn that cries, sleeps a lot, and shows some reflexes. Then, by 12 months, your child may be walking and playing with many toys and may have even said their first word. It’s quite exciting to see all of the changes. You are sure to celebrate with every new developmental milestone that your child exhibits!

As your child develops, you might compare your child to developmental milestone charts. However, keep in mind that all children develop at different rates and at different times. If you are concerned about whether or not your child is reaching developmental milestones, consult with your child’s doctor. Consider asking for a developmental screening.

The first year of life is important in terms of development. Act early if you think your child might not be meeting milestones on time. Again, if you are concerned, please see your child’s doctor.

I’d like to present important developmental milestones that are expected to occur during the first year of life.

Developmental Milestones During the First Year of Life

First Month

  • Infants can raise their head
  • Can move their head from side to side when on their stomach.
  • Cries
  • Can see black and white patterns
  • Can hear well.
  • Keeps hands in clenched fists.
  • Prefers human faces over other shapes.

Second Month

  • Infants can raise their head, as well as their chests when they are on their stomachs.
  • Expresses sounds other than crying
  • Shows different types of cries (a cry for when they are hungry or when they are in pain).
  • Infants may show a smile in response to you.

Third Month

  • Infants may start to hold their heads (Before this time, their heads must be supported).
  • Can hold objects, but won’t reach for them on their own.
  • Can bear weight on their forearms.
  • Will open and shut hands.
  • Brings hands to mouth.
  • Will follow moving objects with their eyes.
  • Demonstrates some hand-eye coordination.
  • Pushes legs down when they are placed on a firm surface.
  • Smiling
  • Infants enjoy playing with others.
  • May engage in cooing sounds (gurgling and squealing).

Developmental milestones during baby’s first year

Fourth Month

  • Infants become better at grasping objects (it’s also voluntary, rather than reflexive)
  • May be able to transfer objects back and forth between hands.
  • Shows good head control.
  • May enjoy being rocked or bounced.
  • May laugh at times. Laughing may happen in response to tickling or funny faces. My daughter would laugh at my dancing. But, that may be a given anyways! 🙂
  • Will look for a speaker by turning their head.
  • May start to eat baby food.

Fifth Month

  • Infants become better at grasping objects
  • Infant’s birth weight has typically doubled.
  • May start teething.
  • May smile at their image in the mirror.
  • Fear of strangers may appear.
  • May put feet in mouth while lying on their back.

Sixth Month

  • Infants are voluntarily grasping objects
  • Most infants can roll over both ways (front to back, back to front).
  • Acuity and peripheral vision start to approximate that of an adult.
  • Chewing and biting may start.
  • Can hold their bottle.
  • Single syllable babbling (Ma-ma, ba-ba).
  • Fear of strangers may appear.
  • May sleep through the night. This likely varies in terms of when this happens for babies. But rest assured, sleep will come again!

Seventh Month

  • Infants sit up by themselves
  • Will typically reach for objects with their hands.
  • Can distinguish emotions by tone of voice.
  • Infants may enjoy playing peek-a-boo.
  • Shows more interest in mirror images.

Eighth Month

  • Most infants start to creep (infants use their arms to pull themselves along, while dragging their bellies and legs along the floor).
  • Most can maintain a standing position by holding onto something.
  • May imitate simple actions and expressions of others (such as clapping hands together).

Ninth Month

  • Most infants can creep.
  • May start to feed themselves. Babies love exploring food at this time, but they also love exploring other objects and things that can be grasped. Thus, parents may be especially concerned about safety at this time. Check for small objects within reach of your baby.

Tenth Month

  • Infants can pull themselves to a standing position and then can stand briefly without holding on to something.
  • Infants may be crawling by now.
  • May try to imitate sounds made by older individuals.
  • Starts to understand the concept of object permanence (that is, babies understand that an object continues to exist, even when it is out of sight).

Eleventh Month

  • Infants can “hold objects in each hand and inspect them in turn”.
  • Infants may start to walk unsteadily while holding onto something.
  • May wave bye-bye.
  • Likely understands “no”.

Twelveth Month

  • Will walk by holding onto furniture.
  • Infants may start to walk by themselves.
  • Can sit without assistance.
  • Demonstrates pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger are used).
  • Will explore objects in a number of ways (shaking, banging, dropping).
  • First words come about (mamma, dadda).
  • Can understand a lot of words and requests.
  • Birth weight has tripled.
  • May develop an attachment to an item (such as a stuffed animal). Likely has also developed an attachment to one or both parents (strong emotional bond).

Tips for Enhancing Development During Baby’s First Year

1.Talk, sing, and read to your child. This does so much for language development. In addition, it also helps develop your baby’s brain. And even though your baby may only be cooing, coo back! This helps develop “conversational skills” such as turn-taking.

2.Cuddle and hold your child. This will help your child feel loved and secure. It also helps develop an attachment.

3. Play with your child on the floor and encourage motor skills. For example, you can consider using a play gym such as the one below. Babies will start reaching for objects and grasping them. In addition, this play gym has a piano, so your baby may enjoy kicking and pressing the keys. You can also practice tummy time on this mat, so your baby can develop the necessary muscles for motor skills (such as rolling over, pushing themselves up, etc.).

4.Give your baby lots of attention and praise. You can never “spoil” a baby with too much attention at this time. This all helps build attachment.

5.Consider using sensory bins with your baby. In doing so, your baby will learn about new textures, as well as cause and effect. Try this site for ideas: Baby Sensory Bins.

6.Respond to baby’s cues. Early on, babies need a lot of reassurance that their needs will be met. If your baby cries, do your best to respond. I know that early on it was difficult for me to figure out what to do when my baby cried- Was she hungry? Did she need a diaper change? Or did she need comfort? It did take a lot of trial and error, but we also eventually learned how to distinguish among some of her cries (she had a hungry cry and an angry cry for example).

Final Thoughts on Developmental Milestones During Baby’s First Year

This is such a fun and exciting time. I always enjoyed watching my baby learn new skills, as well as her delight when she was able to do a skill on her own. Give lots of attention and play during this time, which will help so much in terms of meeting milestones. If you do have concerns about whether or not your baby has missed a milestone, don’t hesitate to visit your child’s doctor. But, also keep in mind that babies develop at different rates.

Enjoy this time! It goes so quickly!

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Rathis, S. (2017). Childhood: Voyages in development. (6th ed.). Cengage: Boston, MA.

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comments (5)

  • avatar image
    A great resource for new parents! I am always curious when my son should be mastering the next milestone! Pinned it too :)

    Brittany [Growing Our Family]

    September 27, 2019 Reply
    • avatar image
      I definitely was too when my daughter was a baby! Thanks!

      Tamra Cater

      September 27, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    This is such a good resource, it genuinely makes me so excited to have children! Love, Amie ❤ The Curvaceous Vegan

    Amie Cadwallader

    September 28, 2019 Reply
    • avatar image
      Good, I'm so glad! Thanks for reading!

      Tamra Cater

      September 28, 2019 Reply
  • avatar image
    Wow, super informative! I was given a chart with my first, and I no longer have it with my second, so I am glad you shared this!


    September 28, 2019 Reply