Understanding Baby Milestones

How your baby develops from birth through preschool is remarkable. So many physical, cognitive and emotional changes will occur that experts have put them on a timeline to help parents and providers alike ensure baby is growing and developing appropriately. ‘Understanding Baby Milestones’ provides a general snapshot. No one knows your baby better than you—if you think your baby isn’t developing quite right, speak up! Your pediatrician can help you make decisions about testing or additional care so that baby develops the best way possible.

How Baby’s Brain Develops

Cognitive development is the cornerstone of intelligence, including memory, attention, problem-solving, and language skills. Alert your care provider if baby doesn’t meet these milestones:

Cognitive Red Flags Red Flags
2 months old Doesn’t fixate on an object
4 months old Doesn’t visually track an object
6 months old Doesn’t turn toward sound/voice
9 months old Doesn’t exhibit babbling of consonant sounds (da-da, ba-ba)
24 months old Doesn’t use single words
36 months old Doesn’t speak in 3-words sentences  

How Baby Learns to Move

Gross motor development means all movements—from the big ones like crawling and walking to fine motor skills involved with picking up small foods. Both gross and fine movement helps your baby balance, coordinate his body, and move with speed and strength to interact with his world. Where is your baby with the following motor milestones?

Motor Red Flags Red Flags
4 months old No steady head control while sitting
9 months old Unable to sit without support
18 months old Unable to walk independently

ALSO READ: Mindful Diapering including Diaper Rash Care Guide 

Baby Interacts with Her World

Your baby’s first social experience is bonding with you, and her first measurable social milestone is her smile. Three distinct emotions are present from birth: anger, joy, and fear.
By 2 years old she will begin to play with other children her own age. The rule of thumb is that your child can play effectively in groups of children equal to her age. For example, a 3-year-old child should play well with 2 other children.

Social-Emotional Red Flags Red Flags
6 months old Doesn’t smile
9 months old No vocalization(s)
12 months old Doesn’t respond when his/her name is called
15 months old Doesn’t point or make gestures
18 months old Doesn’t exhibit simple pretend play
Any age Loss of previously acquired babbling, speech, or social skills  

In just a few short years, your child will grow from a completely dependent being into an independent individual with complex language and problem-solving skills who is able to interact positively and productively with others.

ALSO READ:  Baby’s Milestones 0-4 months and Baby’s Milestones 4-8 Months

Did you know? At only 1 week old a baby can identify her mother by her smell.

Understanding Baby Milestones is one of a range of articles on Baby’s Milestones:

Potty Training 101

First Words: Better Baby Babble

Baby’s First Steps

Understanding Baby Babble

How To Make Your Baby Smarter

Babies Learn Language In Womb

Crawling Night School

Get Baby Laughing

Tips On Dealing With Baby’s Teething

Deciphering Baby Talk: What is Your Baby Saying

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