Wondering about baby milestones? Every baby is different, but there is a general timeline for each stage of development. Assuming that your baby is developing at an average rate compared to other children the same age, here are some milestones to be on the lookout for…
Smiling – Some time around two months, you should start seeing your baby (deliberately) smiling back at you. Congratulations, it’s not just gas! Talking and smiling at your baby are good ways to encourage her to smile more.
Rolling Over – As soon as your baby hits the three month mark, you should be on the lookout for a rolly-polly. It might happen between four and six months, but three is fairly common. Be on the lookout for his new mobility to pop up when you least expect it (i.e. when you’re trying to pee and hear a muffled “ker thump!” next to the bed where he was suppose to be napping peacefully for three-and-a-half minutes).
Teething – Teething can begin as early as three months. There are other symptoms of teething, but the biggest one to look out for is if your baby starts drooling buckets and seems a little more cranky than normal; it’s a good bet that she’s got her first tooth coming in.
Sleeping Through the Night – Depending on your own personal definition of “through the night,” this milestone could vary more than the others. It could also be the one that drives you stark raving mad. GENERALLY, at four months, your baby should be sleeping somewhere around six hours. If your baby still isn’t sleeping between six to eight hours by the time she’s six to eight months old, you may want to reevaluate your bedtime routine, and/or speak to your pediatrician if you suspect colic or a digestive issue.
Starting Solids – Depending on how you choose to feed your baby, this one can vary a little bit, too. Generally, between four and six months, your baby should start showing curiosity about what you’re eating and is probably ready to start tasting some solid food. Remember that babies will often need to be introduced to a new food four or five (or more) times before they’ll accept it, so try to be patient as both you and your baby learn to accept these new tastes and textures.
Crawling – Your baby should start crawling between six to nine months, although some babies may start scooting around or doing a belly crawl with their arms a little earlier. You can encourage your baby’s mobility by making sure she has plenty of tummy time on the floor.
Sitting Unsupported – Babies can usually sit up with the help of a prop around six months, but it might be around eight months before she’s strong enough, and coordinated enough, to sit unsupported.
Clapping, Kissing, Waving – Around the time that your baby is able to sit up, (between six and nine months), your baby will start learning how to interact with other people by clapping her hands, blowing kisses, and waving hello or goodbye. With new behaviors like these, it may take her a little while to get the hang of it. In the meantime, the best source of encouragement is imitation. Clap your hands lightly during play time, engage her in a game of patty-cake, wave to her (and others while she’s watching), show her how to blow kisses. Babies this age are endearing little mimics!
Grabbing and Holding – Your baby may start reaching for things that catch her eye pretty early on, but it’s not usually until around six months that they are able to actually bring up both hands to grasp something. About eight months or so, they’ll develop more fine motor skills and be able to actually pinch things with their fingers. This is a great time to start finger foods, but it’s also high traffic time for EVERYTHING to end up in her mouth.
Pulling Up and Standing – Your baby will likely start trying to pull up around eight months, but it’s not uncommon for it to take a little longer sometimes, especially if your baby was a late crawler. She should definitely be showing signs of trying to pull up by twelve months. Don’t freak out if she tries to pull up but then plops down on her bottom and cries about it. These new skills can be a little frustrating to get the hang of at first. Sidenote: You should have child-proofed your house by now! Pulling up = falling over. A LOT. Watch out for those corners on the furniture, and hide all cords and cables, lest she pull something down on herself.
Cruising and Walking – Usually around nine months or so, after they’ve discovered they can stand up while holding on to something, babies will start cruising around. Usually by holding onto the couch edge, or the coffee table, your baby will discover that she can hold on to something firm and really take some steps! It’s usually just a few weeks (but could be a few months) after this that your baby will try to take those step without holding on. Children are usually walking without aid between twelve and fifteen months.
Talking – Around three or four months, your baby will start making those cute little cooing sounds, but shortly afterwards, she’ll start babbling like a baby brook. Around four to six months, you’ll probably hear something closely resembling real words, like “mama,” “baba,” or “dada.” By nine months, she may be echoing a few words more clearly, like “no” and “bye bye,” although she may not yet know exactly what those words mean. By ten to twelve months, your baby will have a firmer grasp on keywords, like “eat,” “play,” “no,” and “toy.” Between twelve and fifteen months is really where you may start to see her vocabulary take off. YOU may not always know exactly what she’s saying, but she sure does, and she’ll be sure to tell you all about it!
When considering your baby’s milestone progress, premature babies are calculated a bit differently. Preemies are given two ages by their doctors: Chronological age, which is calculated from your baby’s date of birth, and corrected age, which is calculated from your baby’s due date. You should measure your premature baby’s development against his corrected age, not his actual date of birth.