Milestones are behavioral or physical checkpoints in children’s development as they grow. All of our developmental milestones are validated by American Academy of Pediatrics findings. These are the core skills all children should be reaching.
Abilities are additional skills your child should be developing. These are important skills that look at your child’s overall behavior to gauge their progress.
What Should I Know about Infant and Baby Milestones?
What Are Infant and Baby Milestones?
Babies grow at an amazingly rapid rate during their first year of life. In addition to babies’ physical growth in height and weight, babies also go through major achievement stages, referred to as developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are easily identifiable skills that the baby can perform, such as rolling over, sitting up, and walking.
What Are the Classifications of Milestones?
Usually, developmental milestones are classified into three categories
- motor development
- language development,
- social/emotional development.
Do Infants and Babies Progress at the Rate as Other Babies?
Babies tend to follow the same progression through these milestones; however, no two babies go through these milestones at exactly the same time.
There is a range of time when a specific developmental milestone will be accomplished (for example, babies learn to walk independently between 9-16 months of age). Babies also spend different amounts of time at each stage before moving on to the next stage.
What Should You Do if You Have Concerns about Your Baby’s Milestones?
Contact a health-care professional with any concerns about a baby’s development.
What Are the Milestones in a Baby’s First Month?
During the first month of life, most of a baby’s behavior is reflexive, meaning that his/her reactions are automatic. Later, as the nervous system matures, a baby will become capable of putting more thought into their actions. Some of the newborn reflexes are described below.
- Mouthing reflexes: These reflexes are important for baby’s survival, helping them find the source of food. The sucking and swallowing reflexes are most important. A baby will automatically begin to suck when their mouth or lips are touched. The rooting reflex is when the baby turns his head toward your hand if their cheek is touched. This helps baby find the nipple for feeding. This response is called the rooting reflex and begins to fade around 4 months of age.
- Startle (Moro) reflex: The startle reflex occurs when a baby hears a loud noise or when he falls backward, his arms and legs extend away from his body. This reflex is most noticeable during the first month and usually fades by 2 or 3 months.
- Grasp reflex: A baby will grasp a finger or object when it is placed in the palm of her hand. This reflex is strongest during the first 2 months and usually fades by 5-6 months.
- Stepping reflex: Even though baby cannot support his own weight, if his feet are placed on a flat surface, he will begin to step one foot in front of the other. The stepping reflex usually disappears by 2 months.
By the end of the first month of life, most babies may display the following:
- Raises head when on stomach
- Keeps hands in tight fists
- Focuses 8-12 inches away, looks at objects and faces, and prefers the human face over other patterns. Black and white objects are preferred over those of various colors.
- Shows a behavioral response when hearing a noise (such as eye blinking, acting startled, change in movements or breathing rate)
What Are the Milestones for Babies between 1 to 3 Months?
Between 1-3 months of age, babies begin the transformation from being a totally dependent newborn to becoming an active and responsive infant. Many of the newborn reflexes are lost by this age.
At this age, a baby’s vision changes dramatically; he becomes more aware and interested in his/her surroundings. The human face becomes more interesting, as do bright, primary colored objects.
A baby might follow a moving object, recognize familiar things and people at a distance, and start using his/her hands and eyes in coordination. At this age, babies usually turn toward familiar voices and smile at their parent’s faces or other familiar faces. They also begin to coo (make musical vowel sounds, such as ooo or aaa).
The neck muscles become stronger during these first few months. At first, babies can only hold their heads up for a couple of seconds while on their stomachs. The muscles are strengthened each time the head is held up. By 3 months of age, babies lying on their stomachs can support their heads and chests up to their forearms.
Arm and hand movement develops fast during this stage. What was once a tight, clenched fist is now an open hand grabbing and batting at objects. Babies explore their hands by bringing them in front of their face and putting them in their mouths.
By the end of this period, most babies have reached the following milestones:
- Supports head and upper body when on stomach
- Stretches out legs and kick when on stomach or back
- Opens and shut hands
- Brings hands to mouth
- Grabs and shakes hand toys
- Swipes and bats at dangling objects
- Pushes down legs when on a flat surface
- Follows moving objects with eyes
- Turning their head to face the stimulus
What Are the Milestones for a Baby between 4 to 7 Months?
From 4-7 months of age, babies learn to coordinate their new perceptive abilities (including vision, touch, and hearing) and motor skills such as grasping, rolling over, sitting up, and may be even crawling. Babies now have more control over what they will or will not do, unlike earlier months in which they mainly reacted by reflex. Babies will explore toys by touching them and putting them in their mouths instead of just looking at them. They can also communicate better and will do more than simply cry when they are hungry or tired or when they want a change in activity or a different toy.
By this time, babies have developed a strong attachment for their parents, and they may show a preference for their primary caretakers; however, babies at this age usually smile and play with everyone they meet. Many children at about 5-6 months of age demonstrate stranger anxiety and may show displeasure if taken away from a parent.
Once babies can lift up their heads, they’ll push up using their arms and arch their back to lift up the chest. These movements help strengthen the upper body and are in preparation for sitting up. They may also rock while on their stomachs, kick their legs, and swim with their arms. These movements are necessary for rolling over and crawling. By the end of this period, babies should be able to roll over from stomach to back and back to stomach and maybe are able to sit without any support.
By age 4 months, babies can easily bring toys to their mouth. They use their fingers and thumb in a claw-like grip to pick up objects. Because at this age babies will instinctively explore objects by putting them in their mouths, it is important to keep small objects out of reach to prevent accidental swallowing. By age 6-8 months, they can transfer objects from hand to hand, turn them from side to side, and twist them upside down. Babies also discover their feet and toes during this stage.
Babies’ broadening range of vision is apparent as they concentrate and focus on objects and follow movements. Babies at this age like increasingly complex patterns and shapes. They also like looking at themselves in a mirror. They continue to babble, but now they raise and lower their voices as if asking a question or making a statement.
By the end of this period, most babies have reached the following milestones:
- Rolls over both ways (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 hand to hand
- Supports whole 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
What is the Next Milestone for Babies?
The first year of life is an amazing time for babies. They usually triple their birth weight and are about 28-32 inches tall by their first birthday. The once dependent baby who relied on reflexes to act and respond has become more independent and can move at will. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, picking up objects, and standing are usually mastered in the first year. They may even be taking a few steps on their own. Babies can now use gestures, different cries, and some simple words to communicate their wants and needs. They have developed a relationship with their parents and caretakers and engage in purposeful two-way interactions. They may start to show displeasure by having mild meltdowns if frustrated. The next stage is toddlerhood, where babies further develop their walking, talking, and thinking.