The First Year for Baby

Milestones In A Baby’s Life

This section contains information on your baby’s first year of development, with information on each age range and what to expect to see and learn from your child at that point in time. Also included are some great parenting links, communication and cognitive skills being developed and help with when to ask questions.

Check Early Check Often for all Babies from Birth to Age 12 months

The first year of our child’s life is full of amazing changes and growth. Tracking your infant’s development through this period with the Ages and Stages questionnaire provides a framework for parents – to know which milestones to watch for within the first year.

This video, produced by FAN features early childhood professionals and parents talking about their experiences with early childhood developmental screening.

Birth to 2 Months – As a newborn, your baby:

Social and Emotional

  • Begins to smile at people
  • Can briefly calm himself (may bring hands to mouth and suck on hand)
  • Looks at parent for brief periods

Language/Communication

  • Coos, makes gurgling sounds
  • Turns head toward sounds
  • Makes brief eye contact

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Pays attention to faces
  • Begins to follow things with eyes and recognize people at a distance
  • Enjoys familiar routines

Movement/Physical Development

  • Can hold head up and begins to push up when lying on tummy
  • Makes smoother movements with arms and legs
  • Tolerates a few minutes of tummy time several times a day

Activities to Encourage Growth and Development

  • To start fostering your baby’s communication, try making different kinds of faces and explaining to your child what type of face you are making (happy face, silly face, sad face etc). If your baby smiles at you, make a point of describing it to her “oh you are smiling at me, what a happy face!”
  • To encourage motor skills tummy time is important. On a clean blanket, lay baby on her tummy while you lay next to her. To make it more enjoyable for baby, sing her songs and have your head close to hers.
  • It will be easier for baby to learn about her environment if routines are established. For example, try and maintain some consistent activities throughout the day. For example, breakfast, snack, lunch, nap time, dinner, in a predictable order. When you move from one activity to another make sure you tell her what is going to happen next. For example, “Good morning, mommy is going to brush her teeth and then we will go eat breakfast.”
  • Look at picture books with simple pictures, or draw your own pictures, and describe what it is you are looking at. I.e. “Look at the round ball.” Consider going to a books for babies group at your local library. See the FAN calendar for events and locations nearest you.

When to Ask Questions:

  • Baby does not respond to sights, sounds, or your touch
  • Baby is crying non-stop, can’t be soothed and is unable to sleep
  • When you feel overwhelmed and have few positive feelings towards your baby

Baby 2 to 4 Months – What most babies do at this age:

Social and Emotional

  • May begin to laugh out loud
  • Likes to play with people and enjoys familiar repetitive games/activities
  • Copies some movements and facial expressions, like smiling or frowning

Language/Communication

  • Makes lots of sounds like squeals, grunts, and chuckles
  • Babbles with expression and starts to copies sounds he hears
  • Cries in different ways to show hunger, pain, or being tired
  • Responds to parent’s voice

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Lets you know if she is happy or sad
  • Responds to affection
  • Starts to use hands and eyes together, such as seeing a toy and reaching for it
  • Follows moving things with eyes from side to side
  • Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance

Movement/Physical Development

  • Holds head steady in a supported sitting position
  • Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface
  • May be able to roll over from tummy to back
  • Swats at dangling toys
  • Can briefly hold a toy in hand
  • Brings hands to mouth
  • When lying on stomach, holds head up 90 degrees

Activities to Encourage Growth and Development

  • Talk about everyday sounds around the house and in your environment. Such as “can you hear the car honking” or “that is the dog barking.” This will help baby learn about sounds and aid her in her communication skills.
  • To address fine motor skills, provide baby with items that she can safely tug on with her hands. Use your finger, a toy, or a small towel which she can grip and lightly tug.
  • Gross motor skills can be encouraged by continuing to place baby on her tummy on a clean blanket. To increase her neck strength put your face slightly above hers while singing. This will encourage her to move her head off the floor to see your smiling face.
  • Playing peek-a-boo with baby is a great way for her to interact with you. You can cover your face with your hands and then open them and say in a happy voice “peek-a-boo.”

When to Ask Questions:

  • Baby does not smile or respond to your voice or make sounds
  • Baby’s hands remain in a fist most of the time
  • Baby shows a preference for holding her head to one side (you may notice a flat or bald spot on her head)
  • Baby has difficulty lifting head off floor when on his tummy
  • Baby does not tolerate tummy time at all

Baby 4 to 6 Months – What most babies do at this age:

Social and Emotional

  • Knows familiar faces
  • Has regular wake / sleep cycles throughout the day with at least two naps
  • Responds to other people’s emotions and often seems happy
  • Likes to look at self in a mirror

Language/Communication

  • Starts to use sounds like ahh and ohh
  • Responds to own name
  • Makes sounds to show joy and displeasure

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Looks around at things nearby
  • Brings things to mouth
  • Shows curiosity about things and tries to get things that are out of reach
  • Begins to pass things from one hand to the other

Movement/Physical Development

  • Rolls over in both directions (front to back, back to front)
  • Begins to sit with less support
  • Lifts legs up and plays with feet and toes while lying on back
  • When standing, supports weight on legs and might bounce

Activities to Encourage Growth and Development

  • Help baby discover where a particular sound may be coming from. If you hear a cat meow, you can say “Where is the kitty” or if you hear an airplane in the sky, you can say, “Is there in airplane flying in the sky?” This will help communication skills.
  • Dropping items into a container and dumping them out, will help your child with fine motor skills. At first, you may need to show her how to pick things up, put them in a container, and dump them out, but as your child gets older she will be able to put items into a container and dump them out on her own.
  • This is a good time to start helping baby sit. This gross motor skill will pave the way for scooting, crawling and eventually walking. Place her on the floor in a sitting position with you behind her to provide gentle support. You may want to give her some toys to hold on to. Using kind words describe to her what a great job she is doing “sitting”.
  • At this age you can introduce your baby to spoons, cups and dishes (plastic). Give her these items to look at and play with. You may want to put a tiny amount of water in a cup and show her how to drink from it. Let her try it on her own.

When to Ask Questions:

  • Baby does not make many different sounds
  • Baby does not take weight on legs and is not getting close to sitting up on his/her own yet
  • Baby does not seek comfort from main caregiver when unhappy
  • Baby consistently arches back when sitting and legs seems stiff

Baby 6 to 9 Months – What most babies do at this age:

Social and Emotional

  • Baby prefers familiar adults
  • Has favorite toys
  • Baby enjoys routine (bedtimes, mealtimes, diapering)

Language/Communication

  • Understands and very briefly responds to ‘no’ but may not alter behavior
  • Makes an increasing variety of sounds
  • Copies sounds and gestures of others
  • Understands “bye-bye” but does not say this yet
  • Starts to use other gestures (i.e. lifting arms when wanting up)

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Watches the path of something as it falls
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Puts things in her mouth
  • Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other
  • Picks up things like cereal o’s between thumb and index finger
  • Makes a game of dropping things from food tray
  • May become upset when parents leaves the room

Movement/Physical Development

  • Can get into sitting position
  • Sits without support
  • Gets up on hands and knees
  • Starts crawling motions (may start with ‘army crawl’)
  • Pulls to stand

Activities to Encourage Growth and Development

  • Using a mirror is fun for baby. You can have baby look in the mirror and point out body parts: “there are your eyes, here are daddy’s eyes” and “there are your hands, here are daddy’s hands.” Make sure baby is not placed on a counter for this activity. Try to find a mirror that can be placed on a wall near the floor, or hold her securely while you play this game if you must use a counter top mirror.
  • Hide and “toy” seek, is a great way to encourage problem solving. While baby is watching, place a toy under a blanket or pillow, behind a couch or other accessible area, and have baby find it. You can help baby find it too!
  • At the end of the day, while changing baby, or getting them dressed for bed, talk about the things that you did that day. “Today we went to the grocery store and bought some food for dinner. Then after that we sat and read some books, I really enjoyed doing those things with you today.”
  • Fine motor skills can be developed through finger painting. Make sure to buy non-toxic paint, safe for babies, or use smooth food, like applesauce, and let your baby paint away.

When to Ask Questions:

  • Baby doesn’t startle at loud sounds
  • Baby doesn’t babble or make sounds
  • Baby’s arms or legs feel too stiff or floppy or baby cannot lift head when sitting
  • Eyes are crossed or one eye noticeably turns in or out
  • Baby not accepting solid food

Baby 9 Months to 1 Year – What most babies do at this age:

Social and Emotional

  • Can be shy or nervous with strangers
  • Cries when mom or dad leaves
  • Has favorite things and people
  • Hands you a book when he wants to hear a story
  • Repeats sounds or actions to get attention
  • Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing
  • Needs lots of reassurance in new situations
  • Enjoys music and songs

Language/Communication

  • Responds to simple spoken requests
  • Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”
  • Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech)
  • May say “mama” or “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”
  • Enjoys copying sounds

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing
  • Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named
  • Starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, brushes hair
  • Bangs two things together
  • Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container
  • Pokes with index (pointer) finger
  • Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy”

Movement/Physical Development

  • Eats a variety of foods using her fingers
  • Gets to a sitting position without help
  • Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”)
  • May stand alone
  • May take a few steps without holding on

Activities to Encourage Growth and Development

  • For literacy and to support the love of reading, be sure to start reading to your child at an early age. Read to your baby everyday, describe what you see in the pictures. You can include reading as part of your bedtime routine. If you haven’t yet attended a Books for Babies or Mother Goose program with your baby, check the FAN calendar for events and locations nearest you.
  • To encourage walking and balance, on low lying tables place her toys just out of reach, so she must stand and hold on to the table to retrieve them.
  • Have fun playing in a band. Using spoons and plastic containers, create some instruments. Flip the containers over so that baby can hit them with the spoons to make “music.” You can even create a song together by adding some lyrics to the sound that baby creates.
  • Join an age appropriate program such as Strong Start or CCRR’s playgroup, and let baby interact and observe other children play. Please see FANs Calendar and program page for more information.

When to Ask Questions:

  • Child does not take part in any people games (peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake)
  • Child is not yet crawling
  • Child stands or walks mainly on tip toes
  • Child does not eat a variety of foods or food textures (i.e. prefers only smooth textures)
  • Does not respond to name or simple directions
  • Does not make any meaningful sounds or babble

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