From your baby’s first smile, to their first word, most parents track these oh so important milestones in their little one’s life. Each time you visit your baby’s doctor for a check up, the physician will ask you if your baby is meeting certain marks yet such as smiling, sitting up, and rolling over…
It can really make new parents crazy researching if your baby is developing at the correct rate. When should you be concerned about your baby’s development? It is completely normal for new parents to worry about how their child is developing, but there is no one size fits all answer for when they will meet certain marks.
There is a general guideline of developmental skills, however, as I have just mentioned, do not be alarmed if your child is not quite there yet. Talk to your doctor if you notice that your baby is lacking in one department for too long, as they will be able to tell you if there is cause for concern.
Below is a list of general milestones that baby should be meeting by the listed age.
Your baby is just fresh out in to the outside world, and everything is new for them. The main skill that they will learn during this time is to:
- Communication – Crying is their only way of communication with you at this time. They will cry when they are needing to be fed, changed, or even just held.
- Eyesight – Newborn’s can only see about 8 to 12 inches away from them, however you may notice that they do not focus on anything yet. Their sight will improve as they get a little bit older.
- That sucking motion – Babies will come out of the womb with that sucking motion already practiced. Now they get to put it to work whether it is on the breast or on the bottle.
- Sleep – During those first few weeks you will notice that your baby sleeps away most of the day. Newborns can sleep anywhere between 14 to 20 hours in a 24 hour period. Read more about baby’s and sleep here!
By month one you will notice that your baby will be much more alert. You may notice that movements are more like jerk reflexes at this time. Don’t worry, they will become more fluid as time goes on. Here are some other milestones to watch for:
- Keeps hands in tight fists
- Will turn head from side to side during tummy time
- Cannot hold head up yet
- Jerking, reflex movements. Especially of the arms
- Will bring hands near face, and even in to mouth
- Baby can recognize smell of mother’s breastmilk
- Eyes may focus on objects, though vision is still only 8 to 12 inches from face
- Wandering or crossed eyes at times
- Enjoys black and white contrasting photos or images
- Improved hearing
- Begin to recognize familiar voices, and may turn head towards mom or dads voice
- May start to make cooing noises
Two month milestones are a big one for babies. Your child will most likely have an 8-week check up, and your doctor will be asking you if they are meeting marks. If your baby does not turn their head towards voices or loud noises by this time, it may indicate a hearing problem. If they are not following objects or your finger in front of their eyes, it may indicate a vision problem. Be sure to talk to your doctor at your baby’s 8-week check up if you have any concerns at this time. Other things your baby may start to do:
- May begin to suck on hands to self soothe
- Begins to follow things with eyes
- Straightening out of legs, may begin to kick
- Starts to smile at familiar faces
- Starts to get fussy if bored, or unhappy with activity
- Beginning to support head on own, probably still needs some assistance
- May push up with arms during tummy time
- Movements are becoming smoother
By three months, your baby is most likely a social butterfly. You should be talking to your baby throughout the day by this point, they will eventually learn to talk this way. It also makes baby feel included and part of when you have conversations with them. You may notice that they will coo back to you during these times, you may even get a giggle or two.
As part of this social development, baby will also start using different cries. You may have to listen closely to distinguish them, but baby really does use different cries from when they hungry, tired, uncomfortable…. Check out this video on Oprah
Other milestones at 3 months:
- Will recognize parents faces among others, and search for them
- Open and closes hands
- Turns head towards sounds
- Enjoys playtime
- Will smile when hears your voice
- Can grasp and shake a toy
- Will swipe for hanging toys while laying on a play gym
- Can push up with arms during tummy time
- Will begin to babble more and coo less
Hurrah! You have made it to 4 months. Did you know that your baby is not considered a newborn anymore? Welcome to the infant stage. Four months also marks the dreaded “four month sleep regression.” If your good sleeper suddenly isn’t so good at it, or your child is waking up screaming more frequently, or if you are having a difficult time getting baby down to bed – then you are probably experiencing the sleep regression. Hold on tight for the next 2-6 weeks. One word of advice, it does end. Other four month markers:
- Giggles and laughter will be come an everyday thing
- Can hold head up unsupported
- Pushed up on to elbows during tummy time
- May begin to roll from tummy to back
- Baby will begin to notice things farther away not as vision as improved
- Will enjoy playing with toys and reading books
- Drooling, as teething may be starting. Read more about teething here!
During this time your baby is working on a number of movement skills. Rolling over, attempting to sit up, and scooting around on their tummies are good signs that your baby is on the right track for five months. There is no reason to be concerned yet though if your baby hasn’t quite mastered these skills. If by six months they still haven’t gotten it, then bring it up to your child’s doctor at their next check up.
Personality really starts to come out during this time as well. Your baby will be sure to let you know if they are unhappy with something, such as getting their diaper changed, or going to bed.
Other things to look for:
- May bring hands together, try to clap
- Explores toys, puts them in mouth
- Babbles all day, even when playing alone
- Can entertain themselves for short amounts of time
- Peek-a-boo will start to become a fun game
- Likes to look at self in mirror
Congratulations! Six months is a huge milestone in baby development. A whole half a year. As mentioned above, your baby’s personality continues to develop, and they can be very opinionated at this age. Month six is usually where babies will start to make strange if someone they do not know holds them. Babies tend to go through a clingy phase around this time as well, and will want to be near to one or both parents almost all of the time. Soak it up now, it won’t last forever.
What else happens at six months:
- Baby will recognize and smile at their own name
- Sits without help
- Starts to understand simple words such as hi, bye, no, or yes
- Can pass toys from one hand to the other
- May begin to explore body. This can include touching toes, eating feet, poking around their tummy
- Improved depth perception. Can spot toys across the room
- May begin eating solids. Check out more about starting baby on solids here!
Remember these are just general guidelines. Do not use this in place of a doctor’s visit.