There are so many things to learn when you have a new baby! And making sure baby grows the way she is supposed to is important. Infant development is measured in milestones that each baby meets around the same time, though you shouldn’t stress if yours is a little later to meet some milestones than others. Just keep a careful watch and go with your parental instincts if something seems wrong. Otherwise, use the following milestones to mark infant development in your baby:
Birth to 6 weeks – Most of a newborn’s behavior is reflexive, which means that her reactions are automatic. As her nervous system develops, she will put more thought into her actions.
- Sucking reflex – baby will automatically begin to suck when her mouth or lips are touched
- Rooting reflex – she turns her head toward your hand if her cheek is touched, which helps her find the nipple for feeding
- Startle (Moro) reflex – when she hears a loud noise or falls backward, her arms and legs extend away from her body
- Grasp reflex – she will grasp a finger or object when it’s placed in the palm of her hand
- Stepping reflex – if her feet are placed on a flat surface, she will begin to step one foot in front of the other, even though she can’t yet support her own weight
Up to 3 months – Babies go from being completely dependent as a newborn to becoming an active and responsive infant.
- Supports head and upper body when on stomach
- Stretches out legs and kicks when on stomach or back
- Opens and shuts hands
- Brings hands to mouth
- Grabs and shakes hand toys
- Swipes and bats dangling objects
- Pushes legs down when they’re on a flat surface
- Follows moving objects
- Makes cooing sounds
- Smiles at familiar faces
- Enjoys playing with others
4 to 7 months – Babies are starting to use all these new skills together in order to communicate.
- Rolls over (stomach to back, back to stomach)
- Sits up with, and then without, support of his hands
- Reaches for object with one hand using the raking grasp
- Transfers objects from one hand to the other
- Supports his weight when on legs and held upright
- Explores objects with hands and mouth
- Explores objects by banging and shaking
- Babbles consonants (like ba-ba-ba-ba-ba)
- Distinguishes emotions by tone of voice
- Finds partially hidden objects
8 to 12 months – Babies become increasingly more mobile during this stage, so childproof your home so baby can explore and discover without being hurt.
- Gets in and out of a sitting position independently
- Gets on hands-and-knees position and crawls
- Pulls self up to standing position, walks holding on to furniture, stands without support and, eventually, takes a few steps without support and begins to walk
- Uses pincer grasp (thumb and index finger)
- Places objects into and out of container
- Begins to do more functional activities like hold a spoon or turn pages in a book
- Says “mama” and “dada” and uses these terms when referring to a parent
- Uses exclamations such as “uh-oh!”
- Tries to imitate words and may say first word
- Uses simple gestures, like shaking head for “no” or waving for “bye-bye”
- Plays interactive gesture games, like pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo
- Easily finds hidden objects
- Uses objects correctly, including holding phone up to ear or drinking from a cup
- Is shy around strangers
- Cries when parent leaves
By the time your baby is a year old, she has probably begun to walk, though many little ones don’t walk until they’re 14 or 15 months old. But don’t worry, because the more mobile your baby becomes, the more quickly he can get into trouble. Walking a little later than at a year old isn’t always a bad thing.
Keep a checklist to make sure that your baby reaches all the milestones of infant development and see here for more information. At Life Learning Preschool, we keep track of what your baby does each day, giving her plenty of opportunities to learn and grow and meet those milestones. You should also see your pediatrician for all well baby visits, though, too.