Baby development for the first 12 months - month by month
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Holding your baby and responding to baby cries are essential in building a strong, healthy relationship by bonding with your baby.
Use the following guidelines to offer age-appropriate activities for your baby.
These are just guidelines, and a healthy baby may achieve a milestone later than average.
If your baby is lagging in several areas, contact your pediatrician.
Baby development: End of month one:
* Lifts head for short periods of time
* Has strong reflex movements
Baby keeps the hands clenched and arms and legs curled in. This is a familiar, comforting fetal position to baby who has never known anything but this closeness. Baby will relax the muscles during the next several weeks.
The baby's first few days are guided primarily by instinct.
Already at birth baby is able to recognize mother's voice and, you will likely notice baby turn the head toward that single
sound even when visitors crowd the room. Soon baby will identify other familiar voices that the baby heard from the womb.
Baby is born with a strong urge to suck. While it seems natural that baby would also be born with the innate ability to breastfeed, you may notice it takes a few days for the two of you to learn the technique effectively. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Don't expect baby to observe too many objects around the room though as her immature eyes can only focus about 8 to 10 inches from her face.
Most babies drift off to sleep an hour or so after birth. It is normal for this sleepiness to last for a few days. Enjoy watching baby snooze this week and, take advantage of this sleepy period to rest yourself.
Expect baby to remain on her own "schedule"and allow baby to dictate when baby needs to eat and sleep.
Baby will enjoy all skin-to-skin cuddling, especially when baby is nursing. Dads are also skilled in this skin to skin contact. The quick removal of a shirt and a cozy blanket may be all that's needed to lull baby off to sleep.
Baby is also learning to trust. Each time you appear to feed, diaper or comfort him you're helping to reinforce the idea that you will be there to meet his needs. Continue to follow his schedule, whatever it may be. He will soon learn that he can depend on you whenever he needs assistance or just a quick little hug.
Baby development: End of month two
Baby will start to relax her muscles and straighten her body. Expect her hands to remain clenched except during periods of sleep or quiet alertness.
Witness displays of strength as your seemingly helpless baby lifts her head approximately 45 degrees when placed on the floor on her tummy.
Improved eye sight now allows her to glance around the room and take in her surroundings.
Baby will now begin to cry to elicit a specific response from you. Feed her at the first sign of hunger rather than the first cry. At this young age, you will not spoil her by offering too much attention, cuddling or feeding on demand. Conversely, baby will learn that baby is secure and that her needs will be met promptly without the need to cry for attention. You may also notice her cry when you attempt to put her down. Your baby has realized how comforting it is to be in her parents arms and close to your breast.
You may witness her first social smile. Unlike sleep grins, which are in fact, adorable glimpses of the smiles to come, these first responsive smiles are her true reactions to outside stimuli such as over-exaggerated facial expressions. Baby will probably attempt to mimic your expressions.
Motor skill development is prominent at this age. Though baby doesn't yet have the hand-eye coordination, or necessary muscle tone to effectively reach for an object, he will most likely squeal in delight as his arms flail about in the air above him. The discovery of her hands and emerging muscle control will enable her thumb to find its way to her mouth on a regular basis.
Baby development: End of month three:
* Raises head and chest when put on tummy
Baby is growing every day. He may seem even bigger as baby begins to stretch out his body. He’s growing strong enough to roll over and move around. Be careful to supervise him closely, especially when he’s laying on a changing table, bed or other piece of furniture.
While baby may not have the hand-eye coordination to aim correctly on the first attempt, you’ll quickly discover which items baby wants to touch. Chances are baby’ll continue to play with her own hands frequently, directly in front of her face. Baby is now able to track an object with her eyes from one side to a midline (directly in front of her face). Baby may even continue following it all the way to the other side -- a full 180 degrees.
Baby is now strong enough to sit in this semi-reclined position, especially when propped with a small pillow or rolled receiving blanket. Be certain these objects are not placed near her head where baby can turn his face into them. While her neck and back have grown significantly stronger in the past few weeks, you may notice her head is still a bit wobbly. Keep her comfortable, by providing support as needed.
Your baby is well on her way to mastering the concept of cause and effect. Baby ’s already learned that her cries evoke a response from you and other caregivers. Baby will now begin to vary her cry to signal different needs. You’ll soon learn the difference between, “I’m hungry,” “I’m wet,” and “Someone pick me up, please.”
Your baby is also learning that he can physically effect her environment. When baby shakes her rattle, it makes noise! Expect her to make noise as well.
Her coos, squeals and throaty sounds will appear more frequently. Baby will begin using these happy sounds as baby plays or socializes. Her smiles will become truly spontaneous.
Somewhere around the age of three months, most babies begin sleeping for extended periods of time each night. These stretches may last six hours or longer.
Baby will be increasingly social. He’ll flash that wonderful smile and invite you and other caregivers to play.
Baby development: End of month four:
* May sleep about six hours at night before waking (total sleep typically 14 to 17 hours)
Baby will enjoy experimenting with his voice. He's probably developing quite the "vocabulary" lately. He will say vowel sounds like "ooh" and "aah" and has learned that he can change the sound at will by simply changing the shape of his mouth. In addition to these vowel sounds he will continue gurgling and making throaty sounds. He may also enjoy blowing bubbles.
His legs continue to strengthen as he stands with your support, bearing his own weight. Depending on his strength he may even be able to sit (propped up) very soon though most babies are in their sixth month before they're able to sit without assistance.
His mind is hard at work as well. He's starting to develop mental images of the things that will happen when he "asks" for assistance. He's able to envision certain cause and effect relationships.
Baby’s still developing her hand-eye coordination. Baby may also protest when it's time to put her precious items away for a little while.
In addition to favorite toys, baby will continue to occupy herself with her hands. And, baby will surely enjoy cuddling and snuggling as baby nurses or winds down for the evening's rest.
He's learning that every object has a label. Though it will be some time before you will hear true words, he will being to understand that the furry animal he loves to watch is called a dog (or a cat) and that every other object has a specific name.
Keep a close eye on him now as he's probably able to roll over (usually from tummy to side first). Be careful to keep him properly restrained and within arms reach whenever he's lifted off the ground.
Baby is now more able to accurately track objects with his eyes and grasp them with both hands. His eyes are maturing and he will begin to have improved depth perception and generally clearer vision. He will delight in pulling dangling objects. Favorite items are sure to include your hair, jewelry and clothing.
Keep your ears tuned in as he learns to laugh. Great big belly laughs are wonderful to hear. Elicit a few by tickling him and watching him squirm and giggle.
You will notice him turn toward a voice when someone speaks to him. It will be increasingly easy for him to do this as he props himself up on his arms when he's placed on his tummy.
Baby development: End of month five
* Pays attention to small objects
While he is not yet able to sit unassisted, he will love the view offered by being perched in a high chair if he’s firmly supported by pillows or rolled towels and receiving blankets. Your lap will be another wonderful place to sit and view the world’s happenings. He will continue to enjoy standing with your support.During playtime you may witness baby taking an interest in his feet.
Baby has learned which cries and sounds will grab your attention and will display her skills often. You may soon be able to tell what baby needs by the tone of her cry.
Baby is developing strong leg muscles and will discover that baby can use them to push herself around. Now diaper changes may become a challenge as baby tries to scoot away either in protest or just to move about.
Baby is also mastered the art of baby rolling over. Chances are baby will begin by rolling from her tummy to her back. This position allows her to push with her hands as baby tries to flip. As before, never leave her unattended. Baby is likely to be very resourceful and use this as a means to move around the area.
Her desire to be in an upright position may leave you looking for an entertaining device that will allow her to stand while providing your arms with a much-needed rest.
You’ve long understood that baby has definite likes and dislikes. He’ll begin making his desires known in a more physical manner. Now, attempts to introduce a new food or administer medications may meet with an outstretched arm just waiting to purposefully push you away.
Baby will now begin to reach for her toys and will soon begin moving them from hand to hand and then right on to her mouth. Watch her carefully and take care to give her safe toys and teething rings baby will be able to suck on without harm.
Baby will enjoy the challenge of squeezing toys to make them squeak. You’ll notice her making conscious decisions as baby plays. Baby will begin to play with blocks although baby will not be very accurate in stacking or sorting them quite yet.
Baby will closely observe your mouth movements while you speak and will attempt to imitate your sounds and the inflection in your voice. Baby will babble specific sounds in an attempt to get attention. Watch as baby also mimics your gestures.
Her eyesight has improved dramatically. Now, in addition to her black and white toys, baby will begin taking an interest in the many colors the world has to offer. Offer her toys and objects of many colors and watch how quickly baby makes her preferences known!
Baby development: End of month six:
* Keeps head level when pulled to sitting position
Now, when baby wants to play with a specific toy he’s able to reach for it himself. And, his aim may be accurate enough to grasp it.
He’s probably discovered the joy of being somewhat independent and whenever allowed, will push himself around with his hands and feet to move closer to out-of-reach objects.
Your baby is probably now strong enough to sit in an upright position.
Baby ’s not quite able to pull herself into a sitting position, but will be able to support herself if you seat her on a mat on the floor. Baby will begin by supporting herself with her hands and will soon graduate to sitting steadily while toys occupy her hands. Baby will thrust her arms out and will attempt to break her fall with her arms and hands when tipping forward.
In addition to sitting by herself, baby may be able to stand without assistance if you place her next to a piece of furniture.
During playtime baby will begin to make more intentional movements. Baby will study toys for longer periods of time and attempt to make them work together.
Baby has learned how to effectively communicate his needs. Now he’ll begin to display his every emotion as well. You’ll find that he’s like an open book and you can read his moods as they change simply by observing the expression on his face and his body language.
You’ll witness smiles and animated movements when he’s happy and a more quiet, withdrawn demeanor when he’s tired, sad or lonely. (Expect him to continue crying as he has in the past to signal the need for attention, food, a diaper change or a nap.)
He’ll continue to experiment with his voice. You’ll hear loud outbursts, soft babbling and long strings of seemingly unrelated sounds. He’s attempting to speak as you do and make the noises he hears around him every day.
Infant swings and bouncing chairs will be favorites at this age. Baby may be quietly lulled to sleep by the gentle motion of a swing or be kept happily playing by himself as he bounces in a stationary entertainer chair.
Your baby will use his whole hand like a little rake to reach for and drag nearby objects closer to him. Baby may become frustrated and cry when he can’t reach items that have peaked his interest. Though he may be able to scoot about the floor this movement is somewhat difficult and cumbersome.
Baby may begin to show an interest in the foods you are eating.
Baby development: End of month seven:
* Can self-feed some finger foods
Displays of frustration at not being able to move around freely should begin to disappear as baby learns to crawl. While on average babies crawl around six months of age, be aware that it may be weeks or even months before baby is fully mobile.
Baby will likely be pulling herself around using hands and feet with her tummy on the floor, or by getting up on her hands and knees and rocking back and forth without going anywhere.
Expect continued babbling as he learns he can use his tongue, as well as the shape of his mouth to create and change sounds. Remember too, that some of his loud outbursts may be nothing more than his attempt to see how far he can make his voice heard.
Help him develop the gross motor skills he’ll need for walking, climbing, riding a bike,and playing ball by providing plenty of opportunity.
Expect him to focus on, and try to pick up, small objects. He’ll be able to rake in and pick up objects as small as a raisin or pebble. He’ll use his whole fist to grasp the tiny object and it’ll surely be destined for his mouth.
Baby may become anxious when you are out of sight. This “separation anxiety” is common during the second half of the first year and even into the early part of the second year.
His eyes have matured and he’s now able to track objects well from one side of his head all the way to the other. In addition, he can now see across the room and will enjoy looking around at every object he can find.
Baby development: End of month eight:
* Chews on objects
Baby is now mobile. Baby will enjoy crawling around picking up every exciting object baby finds and they’re all destined for her mouth.
While some begin much earlier, the average infant begins teething between six and twelve months of age. Generally, the incisors erupt first (four on top and four on the bottom), then four molars. These are followed by the four canine (eye) teeth and finally by the two year molars somewhere around two years of age. Watch for signs of teething, including drooling (and a related rash, cough or diarrhea caused by the excess of saliva), night waking, biting, loss of appetite and irritability.
Baby has developed his own manner of expressing his needs. Expect his repertoire to grow steadily as he adds gestures to the mix. For example, he may hold his arms above his head in an attempt to ask you to pick him up.
You may find yourself wondering why he seems to "act up"when you’re around while other caregivers report that he’s a joy to care for. He’s already figuring out how to manipulate Mom and Dad
Around this time, baby may develop a fear of strangers. The once outgoing baby who would allow anyone and everyone to touch him and pick him up may appear anxious when a stranger enters the room. He may decide to hide his head in your shoulder or cling to your legs.
Baby development: End of month nine:
* Reaches for toys
Most children this age are able to wave "bye-bye,".
The development of the pincer grip, grasping a small object between her thumb and forefinger, allowing her greater freedom in self-feeding. Help her master this skill by introducing small, easy to eat foods like Cheerios, or small pieces of soft, cooked fruits and vegetables.
Baby will be able to say Mama and Dada now and may even be able to say another familiar word.
He understands that when you say "cat" you are talking about the furry animal that sits all day on the sunny window ledge safely out of reach. Now he’ll begin creating mental images of the cat when you say the name and it’s not within sight. He’ll soon make these associations about every object even if he can’t yet say the words.
Baby has probably mastered the fine art of crawling on her hands and knees. This perfected position affords greater flexibility and faster speeds. Baby will be able to pull herself to a standing position and will lean on furniture for support. Baby may even be able to pivot in a circle to take in new views of her surroundings.
Baby is ready for new advancements in the self-feeding area as well. He’s now able to drink from a sippy cup though this may take a few introductions before he’s able to easily take a drink.
Baby development: End of month ten:
* Understands the concept of object permanence
Baby will become increasingly mobile. Now he’ll have perfected his crawling abilities and will be on the go whenever he’s placed on the floor. He’ll alternate hand, then knee, first one side, then the other. This new, more mature motion, will allow him to balance on one hand while reaching for an object with the other.
He’s also learned how to move from a crawling position to a sitting position, enabling him to fully inspect and enjoy the toy he’s grasped. You’ll find that he’ll also sit frequently just to rest his tired limbs.
He’ll also learn to crawl up stairs and will delight in displaying his newfound abilities, whenever the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately, he has not yet learned how to go back down the stairs once he’s climbed up.
New sounds continue to flow from of baby’s mouth each day. Baby will test her ability to make these noises by babbling streams of random vowel sounds. Very soon, these strings of seeming meaningless sounds will take shape as individual "words" with very clear definitions. In addition to these sounds, baby will also begin to imitate non-verbal noises such as coughs and sneezes. Baby will discover that certain sounds (such as a cough) will cause you to turn and check on her. Baby may delight in making these sounds simply to attract your attention.
Her now well-developed pincer grasp will enable her to pick up very small items.
Watching the baby in the mirror is sure to be one of baby’s favorite past times.
His memory is steadily evolving now. He’s able to form mental images of familiar objects when they’re out of sight. Expect him to remember a favorite toy even after it’s been carefully put away. He’s mastering the concept of object permanence.
When it’s time to unwind, you’ll notice how baby will enjoy cuddling on your lap while you read a book or two. Baby begins to take an interest in the pages. Colors captivate. Familiar sounds intrigue. Baby may have enjoyed story time in the past, but as the next few weeks and months unfold, baby will take on a new appreciation for this daily ritual.
Baby development: End of month eleven
* Says "ma-ma" and "da-da" discriminately
Your baby is now likely to pull herself up to a standing position and will begin to “cruise” from one piece of furniture to another. Baby will begin to alternate feet and “walk” if you offer encouragement and physical support by holding both of her hands.
More advanced exploration is also possible, as baby learns to scale and climb furniture and other obstacles. Expect frequent tumbles and falls as baby learns to balance more effectively.
His cognitive abilities have been growing steadily during recent weeks as well. Expect that he’s now able to understand and respond to a one-step command. For instance, when he picks up an object you’d rather he not have, ask him to “Please bring that to Mommy (or Daddy).”
Language skills continue to evolve as he beings to make more and more two syllable sounds. He may even learn another word or two. Don’t worry if he doesn’t seem to “talk” as much as friends his age.
Baby is now able to pick up small, snack-like foods such as Cheerios and diced, soft fruits and vegetables. You’re probably amazed at how baby gets excited to feed herself each time you offer such a snack.
Baby is beginning to understand certain trigger words and their associated cause and effect relationships. Though her comprehension is still limited, baby will now anticipate the departure that is to follow when baby hears you say “bye-bye.” When you’ve stepped out of the room and baby begins to cry, the words “Mommy (or Daddy) is coming right back” may help to calm her as baby forms a mental picture of her beloved parent.
Baby development: End of month twelve:
* May take one to two naps daily
Your baby is about to become increasingly independent. He’s now able to stand without holding on and, if he’s extremely adventurous, he may attempt to take his first unassisted steps. Expect his feet to be spread apart. This wide stance will help increase his ability to balance. You may notice that his feet are primarily flat and that his toes point in a bit as he steps. He’ll be quite unsteady on his feet at first and will stumble and fall frequently.
Playing with baby is becoming increasingly interactive. Now, baby will take great joy in participating fully in these games and even initiating them. Baby will enjoy clapping her hands and will continue to learn about social interaction as baby plays.
Allow her to play often with kids near her age. While baby may enjoy being with her friend, expect that although they may sit side by side, each child will continue to play by herself. This “parallel play” is normal behavior for a young toddler.
Baby will probably become upset and possessive if another child takes interest in her toy and attempts to take it away for a time. Early lessons in sharing might begin now, but expect it will take quite some time to master this skill.
Compartments, drawers and cabinets will become favorite places to search now. He’ll entertain himself by opening any door or drawer within his reach, pulling the contents out onto the floor.
Baby has learned the meaning of the word, “No.” Help her to follow your instruction regularly by simply telling “No” without making animated faces or gestures as these can easily be mistaken for play.
If you are both enjoying your nursing relationship, consider continuing for another few weeks or months. The benefits of breastfeeding continue far past the first birthday. The worldwide average age of weaning is between three and four years of age. Not only will baby continue to receive a very beneficial boost of infection-fighting antibodies each time baby nurses, baby will continue to enjoy a wonderfully nurturing time with Mom.
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