Congratulations on becoming a new mum! Watching your baby grow and reach new milestones can be a rewarding and exciting experience. As a parent, it is natural to want to know what to expect at different ages and to ensure that your baby is developing properly. In this blog post, we will discuss some common physical, cognitive, and social-emotional milestones that you can expect your baby to reach during the first year of life.
During the first year of life, babies go through many physical changes and develop important skills that will help them explore and interact with the world around them. The photos that we took on day one soon become, ‘wow, how were you ever that small?!’ Every day there seems to be something new and every time, we fall just a little bit more in love with the person they are becoming.
At around 2 months old, your baby may be able to lift their head while lying on their stomach and start to push up with their arms when on their belly. It’s usually around this time we start to go ‘uh oh, they’re going to be on the move soon’.
By 4 months old, your baby may be able to roll over from their stomach to their back and vice versa. They may also be able to reach for and grab toys with their hands. Baby play gyms are great for encouraging this as they provide a sensory experience they will love. Surrounded by colour and hanging toys, the stimulation will have your little one entertained for hours.
Around 6 months old, your baby may be able to sit upright with support and may start to crawl or scoot around on their stomach. This is especially exciting but also means you may need to start baby proofing your home.
By 9 months old, your baby may be able to crawl on all fours and may start to pull themselves up to a standing position using furniture or other objects. In my case, Archer was walking by 9 months! He was always so determined from the minute he was born and there was definitely no stopping him.
By the time your baby is 12 months old, they may be able to walk with support and may take their first steps on their own. As you prepare for that first birthday, they could be chasing you for the birthday cake!
In the first year of life, babies also make significant cognitive developments as they become more aware and are able to take in their surroundings.
At around 3 months old, your baby may be able to focus on and track objects with their eyes. This is especially cute when we start to see them follow mum and dad or our fur babies. They may also start to show interest in looking at themselves in a mirror which is adorable! We all remember that first time they catch themselves and are fascinated by what they see.
By 6 months old, your baby may be able to recognise familiar faces and may start to show a preference for certain toys or objects. How good is it when we’ve been away from our precious one and they light up when they see us again. They may also start to understand simple commands and gestures, such as waving goodbye or clapping their hands.
Around 9 months old, your baby may start to understand the concept of object permanence, which means that they understand that objects still exist even when they are not visible. Having a favourite comforter is often the first thing that demonstrates this during the bedtime routine, side note, how stressful is it when you lose the one thing that helps them sleep (crying emoji).
They may also start to show an interest in simple cause and effect relationships, such as dropping a toy to see what happens. Usually this is a way to make your bub laugh, but when you’re out for dinner and the fork keeps hitting the floor, you know it’s not funny anymore.
By the time your baby is 12 months old, they may be able to understand and follow simple commands, such as "give me the ball" or "put the toy in the box." Tidying up can be turned into a fun game, it kinda sucks when they grow out of that (lol). They may also start to use simple gestures to communicate, such as pointing to what they want or shaking their head to indicate "no”.
In the first year of life, babies also develop important social-emotional skills that will help them form relationships and interact with others. Here are some social-emotional milestones that you may see your baby reach in the first year.
At around 2 months old, your baby may start to smile and laugh and may show a preference for certain people. This is such a memorable time and if you were to scroll though my images on my phone, they would be FULL of Archer! Trying to snap that smile can be tricky but when you get it, you can guarantee it’ll be your new screensaver.
By 4 months old, your baby may start to show separation anxiety when away from familiar caregivers and may start to imitate simple facial expressions and sounds. Ways to manage this can be demonstrating that you’ll return, but giving it a few minutes and always using a soothing voice to explain that you will be back. Even though your child doesn’t understand the words you are saying just yet, tone is so important and can make such a difference.
Around 6 months old, your baby may start to show interest in other babies and may start to engage in simple social games, such as peek-a-boo. You may even notice that they start to mimic some of the words you say, like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’.
By 9 months old, your baby may start to show empathy and may try to comfort others who are upset, which is just the most adorable thing. Babies with siblings will likely comfort each other as they start to understand when the other is sad. They may also start to engage in more complex social play, such as taking turns or sharing. Simple play with stacking blocks or with a ball are games that never get old.
Watching out for milestones can be fun but it can also be a cause for worry. Each baby develops at their own pace and while it’s important to discuss any serious delays with your doctor, comparing children and even siblings can cause unnecessary stress. I know from personal experience with Archer that he was way ahead with some milestones and behind on others. Now he is starting school I have another set of milestones ahead which I will look forward to as they come.