Milestones of Early Development

The following chart shows the age range of skills acquired during the first year.  It is important to remember that your baby is an individual, very different from every other baby, and comparing your baby to one of a similar age may cause needless worry.  Your pediatrician will guide you, if your child is developing outside of the expected range for age.

First Month – Your baby is not yet able to focus his eyes, however he may follow a bright light in an irregular manner.  He can hear sounds and may be startled by a loud noise.  By the end of the first month, he may begin to respond to familiar voices and start making small cooing sounds.

Even though the infant seems so helpless, he should never be left on a bed or table or chair without rails or some person being beside him to protect him from falling.

Second Month – Most of your baby’s time is still spent sleeping, but his wakeful periods are becoming somewhat longer.  He is now making more cooing noises.  He is beginning to focus his eyes and may have found his hand or toy.  His head control is improving but there is still much bobbing around.  He is beginning to lift his head off the bed.  He should be smiling more frequently.

Third Month – Your infant is becoming more active in many ways.  He can focus better and may follow a bright object from side to side.  He responds more to those around him and may not only smile but also coo and blow bubbles.  Thrashing movements are commonly seen at this age; this may make feeding or changing his diaper difficult.

Fourth Month – Your baby seems to be more sociable and responsive to the world around him, as he becomes more able to perceive objects and people.  He smiles more easily when a person approaches him.  He may respond to voices by turning his head toward them.  Brightly colored moving objects may excite him and he may attempt to grasp them.  He may discover his fingers and find that he can use them separately.  By standing him upright, you may find that your baby can support some of his own weight.  He may begin rolling over now.

Fifth Month – This is an enjoyable time for your baby.  He is exploring more and trying to make contact with everything.  All objects he can hold seem to go to his mouth and he is drooling more.

He is now turning his head more easily toward a voice and is able to make several sounds.  His back is becoming strong and he can sit with support.  He is beginning to discriminate between family and strangers and may even seem afraid of unfamiliar faces.

Sixth Month – An increase in his energy and activity may become more evident.  While holding his chest and head up high, he can support his weight on his hands and knees.  When placed on his back, he may roll over.  Your baby may be able to transfer objects from one hand to another.  He becomes even more aware of his surroundings.  He is alert to people entering the room and may turn toward sounds.  He may object to being left alone and show his unhappiness at the loss of a toy.

Six to Nine Months – Your baby is now sitting alone and gradually learning to go from sitting to a prone position or to lean forward and then straighten up again.  Then he begins to pull himself up to standing.  For a time, he may not be able to sit down again and will start crying for help.

As we watch him handle a rattle, he will begin to transfer it from one hand to the other.  Also, with this new phase of moving around comes much curiosity and it is important to make a careful safety check of your home for dangerous objects, household products, poisons, etc.

In contrast to his preoccupations with objects in his new world, he may at 7 to 9 months be more fearful of strangers and refuse to go to anyone but his mother.  This “stranger anxiety” can last until he is over two.

Nine to Twelve Months – Your baby now starts to pass through phases of standing briefly with support, moving around while holding onto furniture, and finally standing alone and walking alone.  (Remember that the time for these accomplishments has a wide range of variation, to well after 12 months.)  He is also beginning to understand simple commands and certainly comprehends the meaning of “No.”  He imitates speech sounds and may say “Mama” and/or “Dada.”

The use of his hand for fine movements is improving and he can now manipulate his thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects.  Social development is expanding and he seems friendly and eager to please.  He enjoys simple games and tricks and likes to repeat familiar words.  He may be starting to show more independence at mealtimes and may insist on handling his spoon and cup unaided, despite the resulting mess.