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Baby Milestones: Developmental Milestones for Babies and Toddlers

Baby taking its first steps milestone

There is so much to look forward to as a parent! Seeing your baby or toddler reach key milestones is one of the joys of parenting. Of course, when it comes to baby developmental milestones, each child progresses at their own pace, but it can be helpful to know what to expect. Read on for a basic outline of fundamental baby and toddler milestones and what parents can do to help encourage their development.

During the first month, your baby will spend most of their time sleeping and eating, but they should gradually become more alert and responsive to their surroundings. By the end of month 2, you may notice them beginning to:

  • Lift their heads up when lying on their stomachs
  • Move their arms and legs around (arm flapping may signify happiness)
  • Follow you with their eyes as you move
  • Recognize familiar faces and begin to smile at people they know
  • Start experimenting with making cooing sounds or sounds other than crying
  • Take interest in a pacifier (Our PhysioForma Light Day & Night pacifier is perfect for babies 0-6 months).

How to Interact With Them at 2 Months:

  • Play simple games like peek-a-boo to engage your baby's attention (most babies will enjoy this game for at least the first year).
  • Read aloud and sing songs regularly (you'll want to continue this practice throughout your little one's childhood).
  • Offer a variety of brightly colored objects for your baby to look at.
  • Encourage tummy time by placing your baby on their stomach for short supervised periods.

During the fourth month, your baby's muscles will grow stronger and they should become more active. Some babies may start to roll over during this period, one of the first big infant developmental milestones. Your baby may also:

  • Hold up their head without support
  • Push onto forearms or elbows during tummy time
  • Open their mouth at the sight of a bottle or breast (when hungry)
  • Chuckle or laugh out loud
  • Smile on their own
  • Turn their head to face you
  • Use sounds or movements to get your attention.
  • Grasp and hold objects
  • Bring objects to their mouth

How to Encourage Them at 4 Months:

  • Provide a variety of colorful, textured objects for your baby to touch and grasp.
  • Place a toy slightly out of reach, so your baby has to use both hands to bring it closer (this encourages hand coordination).
  • Model simple words like "mama" or "dada" and mimic baby's sounds to encourage them to make vocalizations.
  • Continue reading aloud, singing songs, and playing simple games like peek-a-boo.

During the sixth month, your little one might begin sitting up with a little help and support. Your baby may also:

  • Sit without support for a short period
  • Sit in a high chair
  • Recognize people they see regularly
  • Make squealing sounds
  • Mimic sounds and gestures
  • Push up onto hands during tummy time
  • Roll onto their back during tummy time
  • Put things in their mouth
  • Try soft foods

How to Encourage Them at Six Months:

  • Place your little one in a seated position with support so they can practice sitting up.
  • Give your baby soft, non-choking hazardous objects to mouth and explore.
  • Take a hike! At this point, your little sidekick can begin to appreciate the natural world and all the new sights, smells, and sounds it has to offer.

During the ninth month, your baby's gross and fine motor skills continue to develop. Many babies will start to crawl during this period. Your baby may also:

  • Sit up by themselves with no support
  • Make a wide variety of sounds
  • Respond to their name by looking at you
  • Become shy around new people
  • Display happy, surprised, sad, or angry facial expressions
  • Lift their arms to communicate that they want to be picked up
  • Pass objects from one hand to the other
  • Bang two objects together
  • Poke at objects with their index finger
  • Attempt holding and using a spoon
  • Drink from a sippy cup

How to Encourage Them at Nine Months:

  • Encourage movement and exploration to develop the muscles they'll need to crawl and pull themselves into a standing position. (Baby-proofing your home and supervision is critical to ensure they can explore safely).
  • Talk it out! Even though they may not understand everything, keep up a steady stream of chatter. This will help your little one learn the rhythm and cadence of language.
  • Begin regularly pointing to items and naming them.
  • Make every meal an opportunity for your baby to practice using a spoon.
  • Spend plenty of playtime on the floor with your baby and follow their lead in terms of what type of play is most interesting for them.

By their first birthday, your baby will be more active and independent. Most babies will crawl or even start to walk with support during this period. Your baby may also:

  • Stand alone for short periods
  • Imitate others
  • Play simple make-believe games
  • Wave "bye-bye"
  • Understand the word no (and pause at least briefly when you say it)
  • Put things into a container
  • Pull themselves up to stand
  • Become familiar with drinking from a cup without a lid (spills and dribble included!)
  • Pick up small items with their thumb and index finger

How to Encourage Them at One Year:

  • Begin to reinforce wanted behaviors by demonstrating them. For example, if your baby throws food on the floor, say, "no, we put food in our mouths," and show them by eating something. Praise them, then they copy your behavior.
  • Talk about what you're doing as you do it to further their language understanding while providing visual cues.

At this point, the baby's personality is in full force! They may also:

  • Show affection to parents
  • Hug a doll or stuffed toy
  • Walk alone
  • Throw tantrums
  • Imitate others
  • Pretend to feed a doll
  • Say multiple words
  • Point to things they want
  • Stack objects
  • Respond to simple requests like "come here" or "give me a kiss."

How to Encourage Them at Eighteen Months:

  • Work on words and pronunciation together. For example, if they say "tuck" instead of “truck,” kindly repeat the word with an emphasis on the /r/ sound. Encourage your child to name objects as they see them and acknowledge their progress as they improve.
  • Get them involved in what you're doing. For example, let them help stir the batter or add the blueberries if you're making pancakes.
  • Be patient with tantrums and provide distraction techniques to help your little one cope with their emotions.

At two years, a child's imagination really starts taking off. Many toddlers will engage in make-believe play. Your toddler may also:

  • Notice the emotions of others
  • Imitate others' actions and words
  • Use two-word phrases such as "more juice" or "mama go"
  • Imitate adult behaviors and mannerisms
  • Scribble with a crayon
  • Build towers of blocks
  • Run
  • Use more elaborate gestures like blowing kisses
  • Play with multiple toys at once
  • Point to illustrations you ask about in a book
  • Feed themselves with a spoon

How to Encourage Them at 2 Years:

  • Have your little one help you with more complex tasks around the house, like sorting laundry or carrying non-breakable dishes to the table.
  • Encourage your toddler's artistic attempts by providing them with a variety of materials like crayons, markers, and chalk.
  • Encourage social and emotional development by scheduling plenty of time for your baby to interact with their peers. Monitor closely and help them learn the basics of sharing, taking turns, and verbalizing their needs and feelings.

While there are numerous milestones for babies that your child should eventually reach, every baby develops differently. As a result, some may achieve milestones earlier or later than others. If you have concerns about your baby's development, speak with your pediatrician. They'll be able to tell you if your little one is on track or if there's cause for concern.

Being with your little bundle of joy as they reach significant milestones is an amazing experience. Each accomplishment is a reminder of how much they've grown and changed since birth. Enjoy every moment of the journey, because they grow up too fast! Learn more on our Baby Talk blog.