If you are new or expecting mother, young or old, well – congratulations! You have embarked on arguably the single greatest journey you’ll ever go on. Yes, even with all the ups and downs. But right now, you’re probably more excited (or scared, and that’s okay) for all the firsts that you will experience together with your baby in his or her first year.
While motherhood is going to be your new “full-time job,” your baby is also working hard to learn these new skills. It’s important to realize that all babies’ brains develop at different paces and in different ways. Some may develop socially more than physically at first, or vice versa. That’s why we’ve created a list of ten milestones in your baby’s first year that every mother needs to know. And for mothers who have already raised their children, these are some fond memories to look back to and cherish.
And remember: Be patient. Be present.
10 Developmental Milestones All Mothers Should Know
- Smiles, Giggles, and Laughter (1-3 Months)
Within the first week after birth, your baby may surprise you with an unexpected smile.
- Babies’ inner ears tend to fully develop by the twentieth week of pregnancy. This means that they can hear their mother’s and father’s voice as soon as they are born. So, start talking to your baby right away! They’ll become more and more familiar with your voice and you will be able to tell what makes them smile – and a smiling baby is a happy baby.
- Talking to them also helps with their ability to learn languages and stimulates brain development. Do this regularly with words and mimicking sounds to encourage their smiles (and learn what they don’t like)
- Holds Head Steady (2-6 Months)
In the first few months after birth, support your baby’s head as much as possible. This will help their neck muscles strengthen to be able to support the weight of their own head.
- Supervised ‘tummy time’ allows your baby to, on their tummy, exercise and develop head, neck, and shoulder muscles. Tummy time will also help promote certain motor skills. You can encourage this by having your baby look at and reach for toys.
- While supporting your baby’s head, interact with them intimately. Babies cannot focus more than a foot away in their first months, so this can also be an opportunity to bond with your baby and have them recognize you.
- Rolls Over (4-6 Months)
- Tummy time – make sure your baby is supervised – is an essential part of learning how to roll over and back again. Your baby will likely know how to lift their head and chest using a mini push-up motion.
- These motions will tire your baby out so make sure you keep them entertained. But once they get strong enough, rolling will probably be their new mode of transportation for a bit!
- Sits Up (6-13.5 Months)
With your support, your baby will be able to sit up starting at about three or four months. Your baby will probably sit up on their own beginning in their sixth month, but this can go into their second year, too.
- A good way of supporting your baby is sitting behind them to support their back. Over time, your baby’s lower-body control will improve. Ultimately, this is dependent on how well your baby can support his or her own head.
- Like tummy time, your baby may not be able to do this for long periods of time. Keep supporting and encouraging them!
- Tells ‘Yes’ from ‘No’ (4-7 Months)
By this time, your baby will become more sensitive to your voice and the familiar tones that you regularly use.
- While your baby will probably loves hearing you say “yes,” or using affirmative language to that effect, they will also get used to the more serious warnings or “no’s.”
- On the Brightside, however, your baby will be more responsive to his or her name and respond (at least physically) when you call them.
- Eyes are Nearly Developed (8 Months)
While their sight isn’t perfect, your baby can see the world almost as well as you do as an adult.
- Interestingly, babies’ eyes physically work at birth; however, their brain just isn’t developed enough to process the world it is now in.
- At four months, your baby’s depth perception starts to develop and you can encourage their development by holding out easy-grasp toys. Over time, their motor skills will become sharper along with their ability to process the movements necessary to grab smaller things.
- Crawls (7-10 Months)
Some babies will go right for crawling while others will continue to roll or scoot around on their bums. The ability to crawl will come once your baby can stay seated up independently.
- You should have done this already – baby-proof the house! It’s ideal to give your baby lots of room to explore the home using their latest mode of transportation! (Hint: if your baby on all fours but not crawling anywhere, place your baby’s favorite toys around the room for some incentive)
- Some babies skip the crawling stage completely and go straight to pulling up, cruising, and then walking solo! In which case, go baby go!
- Pull Themselves Up (6-13.5 Months)
Once they’re tired of being on all fours, babies will start to try pulling or pushing themselves upward in order to stand.
- You will see your baby trying to use anything to prop them up – the crib, the sofa, the table, YOU!
- You don’t need to physically support them 100% of the time, but it is very important to supervise your baby in a childproofed room. The better they get at pulling themselves to their feet independently, you’ll see your baby get more confident in using the objects to help guide their walking, which is known as “cruising.”
- Balances and Takes First Steps (9-12 Months)
At around this time, babies begin to stand without support but for a very short time.
- Your baby will still be using the pull-up technique. The only difference is that he or she won’t need to rely entirely on the support of an object.
- One way to help your baby along in this process is to walk with them while holding hands. You never know – the more you help your baby practice, the sooner they will probably begin to walk!
- Begins to Talk (8-12 Months)
In the final months of your baby’s first year, his or her gurgling sounds and babbling will slowly become more coherent. You’ll likely hear your baby’s first word(s), which will eventually become simple phrases.
- You will likely have been talking to your baby every day, using gestures, words, and objects to help make connections. In response to all the talking you’ve been doing, you will notice your baby experimenting with tones and patterns that you speak with.
- One of the best things you could do to foster this language learning and your baby’s talking ability is to consistently speaking and reading to her.