Babies grow in such unique ways: The baby who sits up weeks before her peers might be one of the last to learn how to crawl. Or the 18-month-old who's still communicating with grunts and gestures suddenly bursts forth with prepositional phrases at 2 years. That's why we created this series of timelines. Since babies aren't identical — thank goodness! — the timelines allow for variations in stages of development. Use them to gain insight into what you're observing in your baby today and to preview what you can look forward to in the months ahead.
As you learn what milestones your baby is likely to achieve this year, keep in mind that this is only a guideline. Each child is unique and develops at her own pace. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, and you probably don't need to be concerned unless you notice one of the red flags described below.
The first days with your baby can be a blur of feeding, changing diapers, settling her to sleep, and responding to her wails. But within a few weeks, she'll start to take more notice of your voice, face, and touch.
Your baby can't focus farther than 8 to 12 inches away – just the right distance for her to gaze at your face. Black-and-white patterns also draw her attention. Her hearing is fully developed and she might turn toward familiar sounds, such as your voice.
She can lift her head briefly and turn it to the side when she's on her stomach, but when she's upright her head and neck still need support. Although her arms move jerkily, she can get her hands close to her mouth.
Enjoy getting to know your baby: Cuddle her, talk to her, and learn how she signals when she's sleepy or hungry. Be attentive and responsive. You can't spoil a baby!
Give her plenty of tummy time from the start when she's awake so she can strengthen her muscles. Encourage her to look at and reach for toys.
Make sure she gets plenty of time outside. Go for walks with her and take her to the park or playground. She'll enjoy the outdoors, relaxing with you, and being around other children.
Get close and make eye contact with your baby when you talk, sing, and read to her. Play simple games when she's alert and in the mood, such as peekaboo or mimicking her sounds. Learn the signs that she's had enough play and needs some down time.
Each child develops at her own pace, but talk to your baby's doctor if your 1-month-old:
- Feeds slowly or doesn't suck well
- Doesn't seem to focus her eyes or watch things moving nearby
- Doesn't react to bright lights
- Seems especially stiff or floppy
- Doesn't respond to loud sounds
By now, you're basking in the warmth of your baby's delighted smiles! He actively enjoys playtime now, amusing you both when he imitates your facial expressions. He's starting to babble and mimic the sounds you make.
You no longer need to support his head. When he's on his stomach, he can lift his head and chest, and even do the mini-pushups that set the stage for rolling over. He can open and close his hands, shake toys, swat at dangling objects, bring his hands to his mouth, and push down with his legs if you hold him in a standing position.
His hand-eye coordination is improving. You'll notice him closely tracking objects that interest him and focusing intently on faces. He's able to recognize you from across the room!
Don't worry about spoiling your baby: Responding to him promptly helps him feel secure and loved. You can help him learn to soothe himself by guiding his thumb to his mouth or offering him a pacifier.
Continue to make tummy time part of his daily routine so he can practice his new skills and strengthen his muscles. When he's on his tummy, give him toys and safe objects he can reach for, hold, and explore.
Give your baby lots of loving attention. Talk to him throughout the day, describing what you're doing and naming familiar objects. Read books together. Share cuddles, play games, and encourage his efforts to roll over, grab toys, and "talk" with you.
Each child develops at his own pace, but talk to your child's doctor if your 3-month-old:
- Can't support his head well
- Can't grasp objects
- Can't focus on moving objects
- Doesn't smile
- Doesn't react to loud sounds
- Ignores new faces
- Seems upset by unfamiliar people or surroundings
4 to 7 months
Your baby is fully engaged with the world now: She smiles, laughs, and has babbling "conversations" with you. And she's on the move – by 7 months she can probably roll to her tummy and back again, sit without your help, and support her weight with her legs well enough to bounce when you hold her. She uses a raking grasp to pull objects closer and can hold toys and move them from one hand to another.
Your baby is more sensitive to your tone of voice and may heed your warning when you tell her "no." She also knows her name now and turns to look at you when you call her.
Peekaboo is a favorite game and she enjoys finding partially hidden objects. She views the world in full color now and can see farther. If you move a toy in front of her, she'll follow it closely with her eyes. Watching herself in a mirror is sure to delight her.
Your baby thrives on the interactions she has with you, so integrate play into everything you do with her. Shower her with smiles and cuddles, and reply when she babbles to encourage her communication skills. Read together every day, naming the objects you see in books and around you.
Give her lots of opportunities to strengthen her new physical skills by helping her sit and positioning her to play on both her stomach and back. Before she can crawl, be sure to childproof your home and keep her environment safe for exploring.
Provide a variety of age-appropriate toys and household objects (like wooden spoons or cartons) to explore. Work on establishing a routine for sleeping, feeding, and playtime.
Each child develops at her own pace, but talk to your child's doctor if your baby:
- Seems very stiff or floppy
- Can't hold her head steady
- Can't sit on her own
- Doesn't respond to noises or smiles
- Isn't affectionate with those closest to her
- Doesn't reach for objects