Skills such as smiling for the first time, waving “bye-bye” or taking a first step aren’t just “baby stuff,” and a source for parental pride. They are important measurements of a baby’s normal development, called developmental milestones, and represent the things most children can do by a certain age. It’s important for all babies and children to reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling, walking, or jumping). Learning to recognize these developmental milestones is a way for parents to make sure their babies are developing normally.
In the first year, babies learn to focus their vision, reach out, explore, and learn about the things that are around them. As babies learn new developmental skills, they also are developing bonds of love and trust with their parents and others as part of social and emotional development. The way parents and other caregivers cuddle, hold, and play with a baby form the basis for how the child will interact with others.
Here are some excellent ways you as a parent can provide a nurturing environment and encourage your baby to learn new skills and reach their developmental milestones.
• Talk to your baby. She will find your voice calming.
• Answer when your baby makes sounds by repeating the sounds and adding words. This will help him learn to use language.
• Read to your baby. This will help her develop and understand language and sounds.
• Praise your baby and give her lots of loving attention.
• Spend time cuddling and holding your baby. This will help him feel cared for and secure.
• Sing to your baby and play music. This will help your baby develop a love for music and will help his brain development.
• Play with your baby when she’s alert and relaxed. Watch your baby closely for signs of being tired or fussy so that she can take a break from playing.
• Distract your baby with toys and move him to safe areas when he starts moving and touching things that he shouldn’t touch.
• Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Parenting can be hard work! It is easier to enjoy your new baby and be a positive, loving parent when you are feeling good yourself.
Baby’s Developmental Milestones – 2 Months – 1 Year Check the following chart for more details on developmental milestones and warning signs of possible developmental delays.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL STEPS
TWO MONTHS: • Begins to smile at people. • Can briefly calm himself. • Tries to look at parent.
FOUR MONTHS: • Smiles spontaneously, especially at people. • Likes to play with people and might cry when playing stops. • Copies some movements and facial expressions, like smiling or frowning
SIX MONTHS: • Knows familiar faces and begins to know if someone is a stranger. • Likes to play with others, especially parents. • Responds to other people’s emotions and often seems happy. • Likes to look at self in mirror.
NINE MONTHS: • May be afraid of strangers. • May be clingy with familiar adults. • Has favorite toys.
ONE YEAR: • Is shy or nervous with strangers. • Cries when mom or dad leaves. • Has favorite things and people. • Shows fear in some situations. • 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. • Plays games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake.”
TWO MONTHS: • Coos, makes gurgling sounds. • Turns head toward sounds
FOUR MONTHS: • Begins to babble. • Babbles with expression and copies sounds he hears. • Cries in different ways to show hunger, pain, or being tired.
SIX MONTHS: • Responds to sounds by making sounds. • Strings vowels together when babbling (“ah,” “eh,” “oh”) and like sounds. • Responds to own name. • Makes sounds to show joy and displeasure. • Begins to say consonant sounds (jabbering with ‘m,” “b”)
NINE MONTHS: • Understands “no”. • Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa.” • Copies sounds and gestures of others. • Uses fingers to point at things.
ONE YEAR: • Responds to simple spoken requests. • Uses simile gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye.” • Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech). • Says “mama” or “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!” • Tries to say words you say.
COGNITIVE (LEARNING, THINKING, PROBLEM SOLVING)
TWO MONTHS: • Pays attention to faces. • Begins to follow things with eyes and recognize people at a distance. • Begins to act board (cries, fussy) if activity doesn’t change.
FOUR MONTHS: • Lets you know if she is happy or sad. • Responds to affection. • Reaches for toy with one hand. • Uses hands and eyes together, such as seeing a toy or reaching for it. • Follows moving things with eyes from side to side. • Watches faces closely. • Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance.
SIX MONTHS: • Looks around at things nearby. • Shows curiosity about things and tries to get things that are out of reach. • Begins to pass things from one hand to the other.
NINE MONTHS: • Watches the path of something as it falls. • Looks for things he sees you hide. • 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.
ONE YEAR: • Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing. • Finds hidden things easily. • Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named. • Copies gestures. • Starts to use things correctly; like drinks from a cup, brushes hair. • Bangs two things together. • Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container. • Lets things go without help. • Pokes with index (pointer) finger. • Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy.”
TWO MONTHS: • Can hold head up and begins to push up when lying on tummy. • Makes smoother movements with arms and legs.
FOUR MONTHS: • Holds head steady, unsupported. • Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface. • May be able to roll over from tummy to back. • Can hold a toy and shake it and swing dangling toys. • Brings hands to mouth. • When lying on stomach, pushes up to elbows.
SIX MONTHS: • Rolls over in both directions (front to back, back to front). • Begins to sit without support. • When standing, supports weight on legs and might bounce. • Rocks back and forth, sometimes crawling backward before moving forward.
NINE MONTHS: • Stands, holding on. • Can get into sitting position. • Sits without support. • Pulls to stand. • Crawls.
ONE YEAR: • Gets to a sitting position without help. • Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”). • May take a few steps without holding on. • May stand alone.
EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF PROBLEMS: Act early by talking to your child’s doctor if your child…
TWO MONTHS: • Doesn’t respond to loud sounds. • Doesn’t watch things as they move. • Doesn’t smile at people. • Doesn’t bring hands to mouth. • Can’t hold head up when pushing up when on tummy.
FOUR MONTHS: • Doesn’t watch things as they move. • Doesn’t smile at people. • Can’t hold head steady. • Doesn’t coo or make sounds. • Doesn’t bring things to mouth. • Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on hard surface. • Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions.
SIX MONTHS: • Doesn’t try to get things that are in reach. • Shows no affection for caregivers. • Doesn’t respond to sounds around him. • Has difficulty getting things to mouth. • Doesn’t make vowel sounds (“ah”, eh”, “oh”). • Doesn’t roll over in either direction. • Doesn’t laugh or make squealing sounds. • Seems very stiff, with tight muscles. • Seems very floppy, like a rag doll.
NINE MONTHS: • Doesn’t bear weight on legs with support. • Doesn’t sit with help. • Doesn’t babble (“mama”, “baba”, dada.” • Doesn’t play any games involving back-and-forth play. • Doesn’t respond to own name. • Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people. • Doesn’t look where you point. • Doesn’t transfer toys from one hand to the other.
ONE YEAR: • Doesn’t crawl. • Can’t stand when supported. • Doesn’t search for things that she sees you hide. • Doesn’t say single-words like “mama” or “dada.” • Doesn’t learn gestures like waving or shaking head. • Doesn’t point to things. • Loses skills he once had
If You’re Concerned – Act Early Tell your child’s healthcare provider if you notice any signs of possible developmental delay for his or her age. The sooner any developmental delays can be diagnosed and treatment therapies begun, the more quickly your child’s needs can be addressed.