It's the most incredible time in any parent's life – witnessing your baby's first year of development. From their first smile to the moment they learn to say 'mama', every milestone is a unique and special achievement. But it can also be a time of worry and uncertainty, especially for new parents who are not sure what to expect from their newborn.
To help alleviate this worry, and help you enjoy these precious moments, we've put together this comprehensive guide. We'll cover all the major milestones your baby may reach over their first year and give advice on how you can encourage them to hit those targets.
So, get ready to explore the incredible journey of your little one's first year of development and learn to appreciate the small steps they take towards becoming an independent toddler!
Motor Skills Development in Babies
In your baby's first year, you're going to witness a seemingly endless list of remarkable milestones. One of the biggest areas of exploration during this time is motor skills development, as your baby will be growing and mastering new ways of moving every single day!
In addition to the increased movement, you'll be able to watch as your baby transitions from reflex-based movements (such as rolling over) to intentional ones, like grasping for toys. In particular:
By three months, your baby should be able to lift their head up when laying on their stomach and reach for dangling toys.
By six months, they can often sit up with support and—if given something to hold onto—stand up with support.
By nine months, they can roll over in both directions and curl up in a "crawling" position.
Around 12 months old your baby will most likely start crawling and take some wobbly steps holding onto furniture.
By the end of their first year, you'll be amazed at all the progress they've made—and can't wait to see what they'll do next!
Cognitive Milestones of Infancy
Your baby's little brain starts working right away! By the end of her first year, she'll likely be able to recognize familiar faces, gestures, and words. Her cognitive milestones help her understand the world around her and form relationships.
Here are some cognitive milestones you can expect during your baby's first year:
At 3 months old, your baby will begin to show a sense of object permanence—realizing that just because something is out of sight doesn't mean it's gone.
By 6 months old, your baby will be able to identify objects from a group and recognize and respond to her name.
From 8-12 months old, your baby will be able to recall objects from memory, understand simple instructions with gestures or words, and start problem-solving—for example, figuring out how to pick up dropped items.
Social and Emotional Milestones
As your little one grows and begins to understand the world around them, you'll begin to notice different social and emotional milestones emerging. Here's a few things you can look out for in the first year:
Your baby will gradually become more tuned into the world around them. Over time, they'll start to recognize familiar faces and sounds, and even start to imitate certain behaviors. For example, when you smile at your baby, they may respond with a smile of their own.
Responding To Stimuli
As your baby grows older, they’ll start showing reactions to different stimuli. Your little one might show pleasure when seeing or hearing something pleasant or flinch away as some things frighten them. It's important to pay attention to these reactions as it will help you understand what works for your baby and what doesn't.
By the end of their first year of life, babies will be able to show basic emotions like happiness and anger. You’ll probably see expressions like smiles and frowns on their face. Some babies may also seem anxious in unfamiliar surroundings or when meeting new people; this is completely normal! The more exposure your little one gets over time, the easier it will become for them to cope with new situations.
Language & Communication Development
By the time your baby is ready to take their first steps, they’ll have already come a long way in terms of communication. They reach this milestone through a series of language and communication developments that start within their first year.
At around 4 months old, you may start hearing your baby babble as they learn how to form syllables. During this time, they’ll be making sounds like ‘ba-ba-ba’ or ‘ma-ma-ma’ without actually meaning anything - they’re just having fun playing with the sound of their own voice.
By 12 months old, some babies will be saying their first words, often ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ but also words like ‘hi’ and ‘bye-bye’. They may also start using gestures like shaking their head or pointing to communicate if they don't have the right words yet. It's important to respond to these gestures with your own actions so they can learn what each gesture means and how to respond in kind.
When it comes to language and communication development, other milestones include:
Saying two words together at around 15 months
Answering simple questions at 18 months
Understanding simple instructions at 24 months
Speaking in full sentences (three or more words) by 30 months
As always, every baby develops differently so don't worry if yours isn't following the same timeline as someone else's child - just enjoy watching them grow!
Following your baby through their first year is a journey filled with delight and amazement. Watching them make all of these incredible milestones during their infancy is an experience you will never forget. Even though it may seem like all of these developments are happening incredibly quickly, it’s important to remember that there is a lot of variability in the timeline of each milestone. Every baby is different, and they will all progress at their own pace. Take the time to enjoy each and every moment of their first year of life and appreciate their unique and special journey.