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Marking Milestones

By Elizabeth T. Jordan, DNSc, RNC, FAAN

Marking Milestones

Recognizing Milestones

Here’s what baby may be doing—and how you can help—during her first 4 months.

Children reach milestones in how they move, play, speak, respond and behave. Skills such as smiling, laughing, playing peek-a-boo, crawling and walking are called “developmental milestones.”

Milestones can occur at different rates and stages in baby’s development. Experts have created guidelines, like the ones in this article, to help you know what to expect of your baby if she or is developing like other babies of a similar age.

You are the most important person when it comes to baby’s learning. There are many things you can do to help your baby grow and learn during each stage of development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child healthcare visits at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 months after baby’s birth. Your baby may need more screening if he’s considered at risk for developmental problems from being born too early or having low birth weight, for example.

As a parent you know your child best. If you have questions about how your baby is behaving or growing, let your baby’s healthcare provider know immediately. Don’t wait—if indeed there is a problem, it’s important to get your baby help as soon as possible.

Baby’s First 4 Months

Personal & Social Development

Your baby may . . .Baby might . . .You can . . .
Express comfort and discomfort, enjoyment and unhappinessCry, smile, wiggle, fuss and use facial expressions

 

Enjoy soothing

Respond when she cries

 

Give smiles, hugs, and other warm physical contact to help baby feel secure

Calm herselfLearn to close her eyes, suck on a fist or turn head away from distractions

 

Be quiet when you rock, sing, talk to her

 

Close her eyes when she’s sleepy

Show baby your face and talk or hum softly

 

Place your hand on baby’s stomach or back

 

Pick baby up and gently rock

Show interest in adults she knowsFuss, cry, or coo to initiate interactions

 

Turn to voice that is familiar

 

Smile when seeing or hearing a person they recognize

Make eye contact with baby regularly

 

Use gentle facial expressions and tones

 

Play “peek-a-boo” with baby

Show awareness of other childrenMimic children he recognizes with facial expressions, noises or body languagePlace baby near others when awake

 

Let baby watch and interact with children of all ages in a supervised setting

Demonstrate attachment to certain peopleTurn her head toward a familiar caregiver

 

Look in the direction of your voice

 

Imitate your smile

 

Track your movements

Speak directly to baby

 

Make eye contact when talking to baby

 

Understanding & Communicating

Your baby may . . .Baby might . . .You can . . .
Listen and express himselfReact strongly to noise by either being soothed or frightened

 

Use sounds and facial expressions of pleasure or displeasure

 

Babble or coo when hearing a voice

 

Appear to “listen”

 

Turn head to look at you

Talk with baby directly and face-to-face

 

Follow her lead, and repeat sounds he is making

 

Avoid talking loudly

 

Play different kinds of music

 

Sing and hum to baby

 

Recognize and react to the sounds of languageReact to a new nursery rhyme by kicking legs; smile when hearing a familiar nursery rhyme

 

Repeat sounds, enjoy and experiment with different sounds

 

Coo to conversation

Repeat nursery rhymes, chants and language

 

Sing songs

 

Read with baby in your lap

 

Talk about everyday objects

 

Begin to build a vocabularyShow momentary attention to board books with bright colors and simple shapes, especially faces

 

React to colors and shapes by cooing or moving her hands

Speak to baby

 

Read and show baby simple books

 

Name objects

 

   Discovering and Learning

Your baby may . . .Baby might . . .You can . . .
Begin to understand that she can make things happenPlay with her hands

 

Explore toys with her hands and mouth

 

Turn her head to follow objects

 

Turn her head toward loud noises

 

Repeat enjoyable actions, such as shaking a rattle

Provide a safe and stimulating environment

 

Supervise baby on the floor to promote movement

 

Play “peek-a-boo”

 

Provide clean, safe toys for baby to hold

 

Smile and give baby your complete attention to help her focus and interact

 

Coordinating Movements

Your baby may . . .Baby might . . .You can . . .
Use many repetitions to move various body partsBring hands together to grasp and shake toys

 

Reach for objects and swipe at dangling objects

 

Raise her head, arch her body and flex her legs

 

Begin to try and roll over and sometimes kick herself over

 

Push up by hands or forearms when on stomach

 

Bring her hands to mouth

Give baby lightweight rattles or soft, bright patterned toys that make soft noise

 

Have daily supervised “tummy time”

 

Support baby’s head when holding her

 

Frequently change baby’s position when she’s awake

Elizabeth T. Jordan, DNSc, RNC, FAAN, is an expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby


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