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Baby milestones birth to 12 months

The wonder year: The first 12 months of your baby's life are full of major milestones

When a family welcomes a new baby, it’s always an exciting time watching their new addition grow and develop. But with that often comes many questions and concerns. Parents want to know if their baby is developing on track, ahead of schedule or maybe a little behind. Spoiler alert…all babies develop on their own schedule. As a pediatrician, I make sure your baby’s development is all within the typical range, and if not, we will work together to find out what’s going on. But for now, here are some general milestones your baby will likely meet within the first year. 

Birth to 1 month

This is a chaotic time for any family, whether it’s your first baby or fifth. Your baby is getting a first glimpse of life outside the belly. Parents and caregivers are sleep deprived and trying to understand if their baby is crying because they need a new diaper, need to be fed or just need a little snuggle. Milestones reached in this time might not even be noticed. 

  • Lifts head for short periods of time

  • Moves head from side to side

  • Makes jerky, arm movements (my colleague wrote a blog on weird, but normal, things newborns do. This is one of them! Read it here.) 

  • Brings hands to face

  • Has strong reflex movements

  • Can focus on items 8 to 12 inches away

  • May turn toward familiar sounds or voices

  • Responds to loud sounds

  • Blinks at bright lights

2 to 4 months

This is when the fun starts to happen. From smiling to longer stretches of sleep, parents can begin to see their baby’s personality develop.

  • Smiles (is there anything sweeter?)

  • Reflexive arm, leg and hand movements

  • Body relaxes a bit (no more tight fists), and baby will stretch and straighten their bodies

  • Responds to faces and voices (differently from other sounds)

  • Can hold head up

  • Swipes at dangling objects and some may be able to grasp objects

  • Tracks objects with their eyes

  • Pushes down with legs when placed on a solid surface

  • Begins to show memory

  • Makes noises other than crying, including laughing

  • Start showing they are ready to roll — some may even roll over closer to 4 months.

4 to 6 months

Let the good times roll! Rolling, teething and babbling are just a few of the fun things you’ll notice your baby doing.

  • Reaches for objects with one or both hands

  • Wants to hold, shake and mouth things

  • Imitates faces

  • Begins babbling and may even make some vowel-consonant sounds

  • Pays attention to small objects

  • Begins teething process (can be painful but it’s temporary!)

  • Keeps head level when pulled to sitting position

  • Sits in the tripod position, using arms for support and some may sit with minimal support

  • Opens mouth for spoon

  • Rolls from back to tummy and tummy to back

  • Generally happy when not hungry or tired

6 to 9 months

Are we having fun yet? As your baby grows, they become more interactive with those around them.

  • Sits without support

  • Teething begins or continues

  • Sits and reaches for toys without falling

  • Moves from tummy or back into sitting

  • Starts to crawl or creep

  • Turns head to visually track objects while sitting

  • Shows more control while rolling and sitting

  • Picks up small objects with thumbs and fingers

  • Imitates others in simple play

  • Enjoys a variety of movements — bouncing up and down, rocking back and forth

  • Explores and examines shapes, sizes, and textures using both hands and mouth

  • Turns several pages of a chunky (board) book at once

  • Investigates toys and surroundings

  • Uses increased variety of sounds and syllables in combinations with babbling

  • Looks at familiar objects and people when named

  • Recognizes the sound of their name

  • Shows recognition of commonly used words like “mama,” “dada,” “yes” and “no"

  • Imitates sounds

  • Begins to clap, point and wave

9 to 12 months

Get ready for takeoff! Babies are moving and grooving, and some even have a few words as they approach their 1st birthday.

  • Begins to identify self in a mirror

  • Develops the pincer grasp with index finger and thumb

  • Pulls to stand and cruises along furniture
  • Stands alone and may take several independent steps

  • Starts to feed themselves

  • Moves in and out of various positions to explore environment and get desired toys

  • Extends arm or leg when getting dressed or reaches up when wanting to be held

  • May experience separation anxiety

  • Uses both hands equally to play and explore toys

  • Begins to use objects correctly (drinking from cup, brushing hair, dialing phone, listening to receiver)

  • Meaningfully uses “mama” or “dada” and some can say a few words

  • Enjoys a greater variety of smells and tastes

  • Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no”

Babies change so much in the first year and it’s fun to watch their development. But remember, these are just general guidelines. Your pediatrician will work with you and your child to determine if your child’s development is on track.