Baby Development – Major Milestones in the First Year

Babies grow faster in the first year than during any other phase of life. The most prominent developmental changes occur in the areas of:

  • Physical Growth: When they’re born, babies are as tiny as 5 pounds, but by the 5-6 month mark, their weight is increased by almost twice that number. And by their first year, their weight is tripled.
  • Cognitive Development: The development of the ability to think and to mentally form and represent their images to give them meaning.
  • Socio-Emotional Development: This begins right after birth as the baby forms an attachment with their primary caregiver, which goes on to define the kind of bonds they will develop throughout their life.
  • Sensorimotor Development: Newborns can respond to a wide range of environmental stimuli as soon as they’re born but the more profound levels of sensorimotor development become clear with the passing months. 
  • Language Development: Language development occurs slowly but gradually. Some babies start talking as soon as their first year while others don’t begin talking until 18 months after being born.

The major developmental milestones during this phase include rolling over, sitting on their own, crawling, standing, and in some cases walking, at least with the help of holding furniture and other steady objects. 

Although the growth cycle for every child is more-or-less similar, every baby has their own individual timeline for growth and development. You need to especially remember this if your child was born prematurely or has any particular illness. 

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In this blog, we discuss the most major milestones your baby will cover in their first year of life. These are just a few pointers, it’s not a foolproof list that every baby will definitely follow. If you have any concerns or worries regarding your baby’s growth and development, or if you think your child is lagging behind, contact the baby’s primary pediatrician for information and check-ups.

Baby Growth Timeline Through the First Year

The following timeline describes the major milestones the baby is expected to cross during the first year of life. 

First Month After Birth:

  1. Move head from side-to-side
  2. Learns to recognize familiar voices.
  3. Recognize and prefer human faces rather than shapes or objects.
  4. Learn to make fists with their palms.
  5. Move arms around freely.
  6. Hearing becomes clearer by the end of the first month.
  7. Learn to focus on objects as far as 12 inches away.
  8. Learn to bring their hands near their face.

Second – Third Month:

  1. Bring hands to mouth
  2. Hold and shake toys
  3. Recognize familiar people and objects from a certain distance 
  4. Establish coordination between using hands and eyes.
  5. Begin babbling and imitating certain sounds.
  6. Smile at the sound of the parents’ voice.
  7. Prefer playing with other people and may cry when play is stopped.
  8. Eyes follow objects that are in motion
  9. Raise the head and chest while lying on the stomach.
  10. Stretch legs out when lying on the back or stomach.


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Fourth and Sixth Month:

During the fourth and fifth months, the baby works on excelling the skills he has learned in the previous months. The most major milestones during this phase include:

  1. Grabs objects tightly and hold on to them.
  2. The baby develops a vision to recognize colors.
  3. Gain head control.
  4. Learn to sit straight without needing a lot of support.
  5. Take interest in the solid food you’re eating and can even try it themselves enthusiastically. 
  6. Start to practice getting into a crawling position.
  7. Laugh loudly 
  8. Roll from front to back and from back to front.
  9. Develop an understanding of language; start babbling.

Seventh Month:

  1. Baby starts to roll over both sides with ease.
  2. Develop and mature color and distance vision.
  3. Develops interest in mirror images.
  4. Struggle to reach the objects that are out of reach.
  5. Develop a likeness for playing peek-a-boo.
  6. Distinguish emotions by the tone of a person’s voice.
  7. The baby may practice getting into a crawling position by motioning his body forward and backward on his arms and knees without actually moving.
  8. Responds to his name being called out.

Eighth and Ninth Month:

  1. The baby tries to crawl by lying on his front and then eventually starts to crawl.
  2. He tries to say his first words that can include ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’.
  3. Develops an understanding of what ‘No’ means.
  4.  Claps and likes playing with others. 
  5. Learns to stand.

10 to 12 Months:

  1. By this age, babies are capable of holding and eating some forms of solid food with their hands, e.g. O-shaped cereals, grapes, and other small-sized fruits, cookies, etc. 
  2. They start to walk with the help of holding your hand or furniture; some babies start walking as soon as the age of 9 months.
  3. They start to pretend play by copying the actions of those around them e.g. pretending to talk on the phone.
  4. Their vocabulary expands. Although they can’t properly form more than 3 words, they try to talk jibberish as much as possible to communicate with you. Some babies can speak more than 3 words by their first birthday.
  5. Use gestures such as saying ‘no’ and waving their hands.

According to Jean Piaget, a psychologist who worked extensively on child development theories, children during this age to two years (Sensorimotor Age), learn the concept of Object Permeance which means they develop the ability to understand that an object exists even if it isn’t directly in front of them right now.

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How to Help the Baby During this Growth Period?

Your baby can not communicate their problems with you during this age but that doesn’t mean you can’t understand them. Take cues from their behaviors and gestures and try to solve whatever they’re having trouble with. The most basic thing to do for the baby is to provide them with a safe amount of attention and love, feed them and change their diapers at the correct time. Apart from these, the things you can do are:

  • Read to Them: Reading and talking to the baby are the most important ways to help your baby’s mind grow and aid in expanding his language.
  • Respond to Their Cries: The only way your baby can communicate with you is through crying, so respond to his cries and look for what he needs. If the baby has colic, keep in mind that it’s normal and will go away eventually.
  • Don’t Get Mad at Their Curiosities: Babies and toddlers are all very curious creatures and they may exhibit certain behaviors to answer those curiosities that may not settle well with you. But instead of being too harsh with them, try to gently make them understand that this is wrong and divert their attention to something else in the meantime.
  • Don’t Be Controlling: We know you’re concerned about the little one during this age, but as they try to explore their surroundings, don’t limit them. Protect them but also give them a safe space to explore their environment on their own. This will increase their confidence and sharpen their skills.

When to Contact the Doctor?

If you think your baby is not progressing with their growth and development, and you’re concerned about it, contact the baby’s primary doctor for your queries. If there is any problem with the child’s developmental process, it’s vital to catch it as soon as possible. But, it’s also important to remember that you don’t need to compare your baby’s milestones to that of your friend’s child, etc. It’s not important that your baby meets their milestones at the exact same age as another kid did. What’s important is that he is growing, whatever the pace might be. Although if your baby was born prematurely or had a birth infection etc, his rate of growth will differ from a normal rate. Consulting the baby’s doctor to refer to a growth chart will help ease your concerns in this situation.

These are the basics we’ve covered on Baby’s growth and developmental milestones during the first year of life. For more information on your baby’s growth, visit Little Angel Baby Clothes.

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