One of the most common questions parents ask: Is my baby developing the way he or she should? New parents might worry their baby isn’t hitting milestones or compare their child to other babies they might know.
While it is important to remember that every single baby is different and milestones differ from baby to baby, here is a general guide to some important developmental milestones:
For the first month of a baby’s life, they truly open their eyes, eat and sleep. Around the one month old mark, parents should start to see their baby have a little better head control, along with more extended periods of wakefulness.
When a baby is two months old, parents will notice their baby start smiling. Parents should not worry if their baby doesn’t smile as much as others. Just like adults, different babies have different personalities and some will smile more than others.
Also at two months, parents should notice their baby “tracking,” which is following movement with their eyes. Tracking could include watching adults move around the room, watching the ceiling fan, or following any movement in the baby’s line of sight.
Between two to four months old, babies will continue to develop better head control. Babies will also begin laughing during this time period, which most parents love. Many babies will be rolling over around four months, but should be getting really good at rolling over by the age of six months old. If a baby isn’t rolling around by six months old, that can be a cause for concern.
At six months old, babies should be able to sit up with support. If parents prop their child – supervised – in a boppy or on a couch with pillows, he or she should be able to sit, look around, and stay in that position for a bit. Babies are not expected to be self-supported sitting up at this point.
At six months of age, babies will also begin cooing and making some noises, along with regular laughs and smiling.
By nine months, all babies should be sitting up unsupported, and if they are not, there might be a developmental delay. Half of all babies are crawling by this age, although if they are not, there is no cause for concern. Babies at this age are also reaching for everything they can grab, and also putting everything they can find in their mouths, so it’s important to baby-proof the home.
By this age, parents are also hearing their baby begin to say consonant sounds.
By one year old, all babies should be crawling and all should be able to get to a sitting position independently. Half of all babies will be walking by this point. A good rule of thumb when it comes to movement is that most babies will begin walking about three months after they began crawling. Another general rule is that walking will likely begin about a month after a baby begins “cruising,” which is where a baby walks while holding on to furniture or stationary items.
Most babies begin walking between nine to 18 months of age. If babies aren’t walking by this point, parents should visit with their pediatrician about a possible delay.
Also, at a year of age, babies should be saying a couple of words, including “mama” and “dada” specifically.
By 15 months old, babies should be saying three to five words that parents can understand, in addition to lots of jabbering and noise-making. Their vocabulary should be expanding rapidly, and the majority of babies will be walking by this point.
Toddlers will be getting into everything at this age, so it is important to keep a very close eye on them. Many can get up sets of stairs at this age, although they may struggle to get back down them.
All toddlers should be walking by this point, with many able to go both up and down stairs under the supervision of an adult. The toddler’s vocabulary should be 10 to 20 words, with many saying more words by this age. If a toddler is not saying at least 10 to 20 words, parents should make an effort to read books to them and try to make them say words when asking for specific things, rather than letting the toddler point and grunt to request the item.
By the age of 2, toddlers are in the active “terrible two” phase where they get into everything they can find. This age group should have up to 300 words they are saying, while speaking in short sentences (consisting of two to three words, mostly subjects and verbs) and talking regularly.
All of these developmental milestones will be addressed at the baby’s well visits with the pediatrician. Remember, each baby is different and this is simply a guide. Visit with your child’s pediatrician for any specific questions or concerns!