It is important to know what’s happening to your baby’s body, especially during the first year of life. This is particularly true for the first time parent who’s on a very steep learning curve!
We’ve kept it simple so that you can open up each month and remind yourself what to expect and to notice the changes as they happen. It makes the experience so much more special!
In the first few weeks, the overwhelming focus is on feeding. For most parents, this is not a problem and comes quite naturally. For others, breast feeding can be problematic for a variety of reasons. Be sure to visit www.breastfeeding.com if you are struggling. They have some great tips and advice for what milestones to expect in baby's first year.
What milestones to expect in the first year of baby's life
Month 1 - A sleepy month
lifts head for short periods of time
may turn toward familiar sounds
can focus on close items
strong reflexive responses when cheek is touched or stroked
strong grasp reflex if something is placed in baby’s hand
brings hands to face
makes jerky arm movements
Month 2 - Baby is awake!
waking periods during the day are starting to last longer and baby is still waking up at night to eat
tracks toys and movement with eyes
begins to make cooing noises
starts attempt to copy sounds like ‘oh’, ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’
smiles during interactions with mom and other trusted people
lifts up head when lying on tummy but is not able to control the movement for long periods of time
Month 3 - The personality month. Baby starts to interact with you
stiffens legs as if trying to stand when feet are on a hard surface
reaches 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
starts to develop hand-eye coordination
kicks legs out and moves arms to expend energy
brings hands together in clapping motion
watches and enjoys circles and spiral patterns
lifts head for much longer periods
Month 4 - Watch out! They’re starting to roll!
rolls over from tummy to back, will quickly learn how to roll over from back to tummy once this is mastered
lifts head and chest when laid on tummy and will attempt to move
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
tracks items through a 180 degree arc
some ready to sample solid food
Month 5 - Transition. Baby is changing from an infant to a baby.
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 (some babies have already started months ago!)
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
usually sleeps through the night by now (if you're lucky!)
can see you from across the room
Month 6 - Food, food, food. Very ready to eat solid foods.
makes 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 and 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 the last time)
responds to short cues showing that language is understood
Month 7 - Let the games begin. Baby will love little games.
enjoys self-feed finger foods
looks for the source of sounds
plays simple games such as 'peek-a-boo'
blows bubbles and ‘raspberries’
can read your emotions from the tone of voice and will try to avoid you when you are grouchy and will show fear if you are afraid
Month 8 - Watch out! They’re getting around!
this is a good time to install baby gates and ensure all small, fragile or dangerous items are well outside of baby's reach
baby rolls around the play area
able to sit unsupported
seems to have own language and babbles happily to self
gets into position to crawl, attempts may also be made to actually crawl
reacts differently to different people.
has favorite people or 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
can sleep through the night
Month 9 - Baby has his own schedule, personality and routine.
plays independently with toys for short periods
reach for toys that are close by
grasps at small items
go from laying down to sitting independently
recognizes self - enjoys mirrors
will often try to take the utensil while feeding but isn’t quite ready to self feed at this point
some babies may attempt to talk or even walk at this early stage, but there is no reason for concern if they are not ready yet
Month 10 - Refined understanding. Reacts to your instructions.
simple phrases should be used to correct baby, especially when getting into a situation you don't want. levels of adherence and reaction, however, will very much dependent on baby's personality and mood!!
move toys and other items from one hand to another
stands 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
if your baby isn’t rolling, crawling and sitting by now, you should talk to your paediatrician
Month 11 - Taking over the house! Knows limits and how far to push.
understand when you say ‘no’ and other simple or short instructions
says ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ and other simplified names for family members
recognizes family members by pictures as well as by name and in person
clap hands in excitement
join ins with others while playing simple games such as ‘itsy bitsy spider’ and the ‘wheels on the bus’
Month 12 - Refined understanding. Reacts to your instructions.
shakes head ‘no’
walks (some babies need a little help for the next month or two with this)
dances 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
is afraid of strangers
understands and follows simple one step commands - is branching out into two step commands
forms attachment with items
feeds self (messy, but great fun)
will let you know when they are done with food and drinks instead of trying to devour everything in front of them
Whilst not every baby adheres to the milestones exactly as described, they do give a good basis from which to work. If your baby does not meet the milestones on a continuing basis, ask for guidance from your healthcare professionals.
Fussy feeding babies, sleepless babies and colicky babies can become sensitive issues, especially with first-time parents who may feel inferior or helpless in the face of their baby’s obvious discomfort.