Baby Milestones: What to Expect in the First Year
Have you ever wondered how your little one learns to do things like crawling, talking, or playing? These are all examples of baby milestones, which are the abilities that babies develop as they grow. Keeping track of your baby’s milestones can help you to better understand her development. It can also help you to spot any potential problems early on and get the right support.
That said, don’t worry too much about comparing your baby to others. Every baby is unique and develops at their own pace. Some babies may reach milestones earlier or later than others. That’s perfectly normal and doesn’t mean anything is wrong. The most important thing is to follow your baby’s lead and encourage her to explore and learn at her own speed. If you have any concerns about your kiddo’s development, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Your baby’s development is amazing to watch. She will go from being a helpless newborn to a curious and active toddler in just one year! Here is a closer look at some of the milestones that your baby will typically reach in her first year of life, and how you can support her:
- Your little one can hold her head up briefly when lying on her stomach. This helps her to strengthen her neck muscles and prepare for crawling later on. You can encourage this by placing your baby on her tummy for a few minutes every day.
- Your baby can turn her head from side to side. This helps her to explore her surroundings and follow sounds. You can stimulate this by moving a toy or your face from one side to the other, and seeing if your baby follows it with her eyes.
- Your baby can blink in response to bright light. This helps her to protect her eyes and adjust to different levels of brightness.
- She has some natural reflexes, like rooting, sucking, and Moro. These are involuntary movements that help your baby to survive and bond with you. You can test these reflexes by gently stroking your baby’s cheek, placing your finger in her mouth, or making a loud noise near her.
- Your baby can lift her head and chest when lying on her stomach. This shows that she is developing her upper body strength and coordination.
- She can smile at you and others. This is one of the first signs of social-emotional development and communication. You can make your baby smile more by smiling back at her, making funny faces, or tickling her gently.
- Your little one can coo and make other sounds. This is the beginning of language development and vocalization. You can encourage this by talking to your baby often, repeating her sounds, or singing songs to her.
- She can babble with different tones. This shows that she is developing her hearing and speech skills. Your baby is learning how to modulate her voice and use different pitches and volumes.
- Your baby can recognize familiar faces. This shows that she is developing her memory and visual recognition skills. You can support this by spending quality time with your baby, introducing her to family and friends, or showing her photos of loved ones.
- She can follow moving objects with her eyes. This shows that she is developing her eye muscles and vision skills. You can enhance this by moving a toy or your finger across your baby’s field of vision.
- Your baby can roll over from front to back and back to front. This shows that she is developing her balance and motor skills.
- She can sit with some support. Your baby is learning how to hold herself upright and look around more easily. You can assist this by propping your baby up with pillows.
- Your baby can reach for objects and bring them to her mouth. This shows that she is developing her hand-eye coordination and oral exploration skills.
- She can babble with different sounds, like “mama” and “dada”. She is learning how to use different sounds and syllables to express herself and mimic speech.
- Your baby can recognize her own name. This shows that she is developing her identity and attention skills. You can enhance this by calling your baby by her name often, pointing to yourself and saying your name, or playing games like “Where’s (baby’s name)?”.
- Your baby can crawl on her hands and knees. She is learning how to move around independently and discover new things. You can encourage this by creating a safe and stimulating environment for your baby.
- She can pull up to a standing position using furniture or her hands. This shows that she is learning how to support her weight and prepare for walking.
- She can cruise along furniture or walls. This shows that she is developing her walking and coordination skills. You can support her by arranging furniture close together, or holding her hands as she walks along.
- Your baby can babble with more varied sounds and intonation. This shows that she is developing her language and communication skills.
- She can understand simple commands, like “no” or “come here”. This shows that she is developing her comprehension and obedience skills. You can enhance this by using gestures and eye contact, praising your baby when she obeys or repeating the commands often.
- Your baby can walk with some help from you or a walker. She is learning how to take her first steps and move around more freely. You can motivate this by holding your baby’s hands or waist, or using a push toy or a walker for her to hold on to.
- She can drink from a cup with some help. This shows that she is developing her self-feeding and oral motor skills. You can encourage this by offering your baby a sippy cup or a regular cup with a small amount of water or juice.
- She can bang objects together and make noise. This is part of her development of fine motor and sensory skills. You can facilitate this by giving your baby various objects of different materials, shapes, sizes, and sounds to play with.
- Your baby can say her first words, like “mama”, “dada”, or “bye-bye”. This shows she is learning how to use words to communicate her needs and wants.
- Your baby may also begin to develop separation anxiety when you leave her. This shows that she is learning how to form strong bonds with you and others. You can support this by creating a consistent routine for leaving and returning, giving your baby a hug and a kiss before you go, or leaving her with a familiar person or toy.
As you can see, baby milestones are an important part of any child's development. They provide a way to track your little one’s progress and identify any potential problems early on. That said, it is important to remember that every child develops at her own pace. So focus on your child's individual progress. And if you have any concerns about your little one’s development, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider. Good luck!