baby playing with blocks

Growth and development within the first year of life is very rapid. Besides physical growth, your baby is learning all sorts of new skills during this stage. As parents, it is important that you are aware of these changes or acquired skills so that you can provide activities and a safe environment for your baby's brain development.

Growing Baby

baby development growing baby

Knowing the stages of development of your baby will help you react and respond in the right way, so as to help hone your child's development and skills.

An environment that encourages your child to explore things around him is important in his physical development. Be sure to allow your baby plenty of space for rolling and, eventually, crawling. Babies love to look at moving objects and try to reach for them, so be sure to hang mobiles and streamers safely in their space. Also, provide rattles and small toys that are easy to reach for and pick up, as babies like to experiment with objects. Make it a habit to disinfect the toys your baby puts in his mouth on a daily basis.

It's crucial to develop all your baby s senses like sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste as he learns to discover his surroundings. Encourage your child to make comparisons by feeling and looking at them.

Related: Your Baby Needs Soft Skills Too

What to Expect

baby development what to expect

These developmental milestones are just a guide. Each baby is unique and his development may vary from others. So do not worry if your baby differs by a few months. What is important is that these milestones occur in a particular order. If you are concerned about the development of your child, talk about it with your child's doctor.


0 to 3 months
  • Most movements, which your newborn makes, are controlled by his reflexes. These include sucking, swallowing and grasping reflexes. Voluntary movements will start to appear when your baby is a few weeks old.
  • The body structure of a newborn is different from an older child or an adult. His head equals about one-quarter of his total body size. His body trunk is long and his legs are short.
  • At 2 months of age, your baby should be able to hold a rattle for a short time and glance from one object to another.
  • By the end of three months, your baby should be able to lift his head off the floor when laid flat on his tummy.
4 to 6 months
  • Your baby should double his birth weight by 4 to 5 months of age.
  • Around 4 months, he will roll over from tummy to back and shortly after that from back to tummy. Also, he will push his chest off the floor when laid on his tummy.
  • He will reach for objects and shake a toy or rattle, hold two toys at once and put them in his mouth.
  • By the end of 6 months, he may even start to sit without support.
  • Solid foods should be introduced sometime between 4 and 6 months.
7 to 9 months
  • Your baby will begin to push himself up onto his hands and knees.
  • Soon after pushing up he will begin to crawl.
  • Your baby will start to follow your movements around the room.
  • He will begin to use a pincer grasp, which is using his forefinger and thumb, to pick up small objects.
  • By the end of 9 months, he goes from tummy to sitting position by himself.
10 to 12 months
  • At around 10 months, your baby will stand with support holding onto furniture. He will also begin to walk along furniture, which is called cruising. Also, he will start to stand on his own.
  • At around 12 months, he will take his first steps.
  • By this time he will display a hand preference, so you may be able to tell if he will be right- or left-handed.
  • He can push a car along on the floor and put objects into a large container.
13 to 18 months
  • By the end of 14 months, your child should be able to walk on his own. He has now moved from the stage of infancy to toddlerhood.
  • He is able to scribble on a piece of paper with a crayon.
  • Your toddler can also stack a tower with toy blocks.
  • He should be able to turn the pages in a book.
17 to 24 months
  • He can now draw an arc with a pencil on a piece of paper after being shown how.
  • He can turn a doorknob using both hands.
  • Your toddler can zip and unzip a large zipper.


Related: Growing Up Safe 

What You Can Do

baby you can do

Large muscles
During the first 6 months, your baby is developing his large muscles to raise his head, roll around, raise his arms and pull himself up, and even sit up without support. Encourage your baby to use and develop these large muscles by the following actions:

  • Move a light slowly across his field of vision from side to side so he will move his head to track the light. Try the same thing by moving your face.
  • Shake a rattle on one side and after he turns his head that direction, shake the rattle on the other side. Try the same thing with your voice.
  • Dangle objects for your three-month-old to reach out to grasp. Squeaky toys are popular with babies too.
  • Exercise his legs gently at playtime.


Small muscles
At around 6 months, your baby will start using his fingers more, learning to grasp objects handed to him. The developing muscles will also allow him to touch the fingers of one hand with the other, transfer toys from one hand to the other. His vision will soon be comparable to an adult's. Playtime should incorporate these actions when possible to encourage their development:

  • Give him rattles and squeaky toys to grasp when he is ready.
  • Teething rings are also handy because they are so easy to grasp.
  • As his grasp improves, begin to give him blocks to play with.
  • At 7 months, give him small finger foods to scoop up and eat. He will be trying hard to pick objects up with a pincer grasp (using his thumb and forefinger to hold a small object). As he becomes more accomplished, he'll be able to handle other finger foods. Remember he should always be seated and supervised while eating.
  • Begin to teach him some simple gestures by demonstrating them to him. He will pick them up and begin using them too.
  • Roll a ball to him and encourage him to roll it back.

FAQs

baby development FAQs

1. My baby is 10 months old and still doesn't crawl. All the other babies of this age that we know are mobile. How can I motivate him to move?

You may be surprised to hear this but not all babies crawl before they can walk. Remember that crawling is not a true milestone because not all children go through this stage. Babies who don't crawl are sometimes known as bottom shufflers. Most babies who start crawling, do so at between 7 and10 months.

2. Is allowing my baby to suck a dummy or a pacifier better than letting her suck her thumb?

According to some experts, there are dummies that are made to be orthodontically correct and are preferred by most dentists. Thumbs or fingers are not orthodontically correct.

Using thumbs or fingers can also place quite a bit of pressure against the palate and front teeth. This pressure is more likely to cause development of a high palate, an open bite (a vertical gap between the upper and lower front teeth), and/or an overbite (a horizontal gap between the upper and lower front teeth).

But there are others who dislike using dummies because they are difficult to get rid of. Also, there is the difficulty of keeping a dummy clean after it drops out of the pram, or other places. You may find that putting a pacifier into a baby's mouth may be used as a "crutch" for some parents instead of finding out what is wrong with a fussy baby, they use a dummy to shut him up.

3. I meet with a "mother's group" quite regularly, and compare notes each time we meet. There are a few "milestones" which other babies always seem to reach earlier than mine. Is there something wrong with my baby?

One important thing to remember when you are a new parent is not to become obsessed with comparisons. There will always be babies who seem smarter, more agile or more intelligent than yours. What you ought to do is to visit your doctor regularly, be on the lookout for developmental targets but don't worry overly if your child does not "roll over" at the stroke of midnight when he turns 5 months! Instead, continue to monitor your baby. If your doctor is not worried, neither should you.

Related: Safe Home for Your Baby

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