All you MUST know about your baby’s developmental milestones in the first year!

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Not every baby achieves a specific milestone at a specific time. They achieve them at different rates.

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Basic skills, such as taking the first step, smiling for the first time, etc. are called ‘developmental milestones.’ Things that most children learn to do by a certain age are called ‘milestones.’

How does your baby achieve a particular milestone? This can be assessed by various parameters, like how they play, learn, speak, behave and move.1

During the baby’s first year, remarkable changes occur in the physical or motor, social or emotional, language and the cognitive domains of development. These milestones can be categorised as the ‘benchmarks of development’ or the ‘stages of achievement, and are easily identifiable by observation.2

As your baby matures, she will begin to achieve various milestones. However, not every baby achieves a specific milestone at a specific time.3 They achieve them at different rates, thus vary in their individual development and acquisition of skills.

A basic question is - how do you differentiate between growth and development? Growth refers to an increase in physical size, while development is merely the sequential process by which infants and children gain various skills and functions. Adequate growth and development are indicative of health in the infant. These changes are numerous and dramatic in the first year of life.

The timing may vary from infant to infant, however, the order in which these skills are acquired is more or less consistent. Their achievement can be assessed in a variety of ways, using various screening tests and questionnaires. Ill or premature infants may exhibit delayed acquisition of physical growth and developmental skills, thus may not follow the conventional patterns of growth.4 Here's a general overview of these milestones.

3rd-month developmental milestones:

By the end of the 3rd month, most babies will:

  • Recognise the sight and voice of their parent
  • Smile at the sight and voice of their parent
  • Be more interested in complicated visual patterns
  • Be more interested in new faces
  • Develop more head control and advanced coordination
  • Tend to reach towards or grab objects more often3

6th-month developmental milestones:

By the end of the 6th month, most babies will:

  • Be able to focus on small objects
  • Look towards the source of sound
  • Repeat and babble any simple sound made by their parent
  • Begin to practice eating solid food
  • Play alone for long periods of time without crying
  • With some help begin to move more independently and learn to roll over and sit up 3

9th-month developmental milestones:

By the end of the 9th month, most babies will:

  • Look for toys that have moved out of sight
  • Become upset when something undesirable occurs
  • Try to imitate the parent
  • Learn to crawl and, or pull up and move more independently 3

12th month development milestones:

By the end of the 12th month, most babies will:

  • Look for and find objects as you name them
  • Respond to your calls
  • Begin to say words other than the usual ‘mama’ or ‘dada’
  • Point to places where they want to go3

Also Read How to boost your baby's language development

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1. Developmental milestones. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Petty K. Developmental Milestones of Young Children. Chapter 4- Birth through twelve months. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Borgenichtt L. Borgenicht J. The Baby Owner's Starter Kit. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Kyle T. Essentials of Pediatric Nursing. Chapter 4- Growth and development of the newborn and infant. Accessed November 4, 2016.


-Editorial Type Ages + Stages Baby (6-12 month) Baby Development Baby Milestones