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Understand your baby’s development stages with this guide to baby milestones by month.
Having a baby is such a wonderful experience, and you don’t know how much you don’t know until you’re face to face with your little one! Babies grow so fast you don’t want to miss a thing, but also you want to make sure that you keep track of your baby’s development.
As you may know, my son was born at 31 weeks, thus we have been overly protective of his progress, making sure he hits each milestone within the acceptable time frame. This is always in the back-burner of preemie moms (and moms in general!)
How to Use This Guide
This guide is good for all babies, preemies or full term!
If your baby is full term, then all you need to do is read along. If your baby is a preemie, then you should read this article using your baby’s adjusted age.
Using my son as an example, since he was born at 31+6 weeks, then we knew he wouldn’t hit his 2-month milestones until he was 4 months because by then he’d be 2 months adjusted.
If you want to know more about your preemie’s adjusted age, you can use my adjusted age calculator, and get a tailored printable for preemie’s milestones by clicking here.
Ok, to business!
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 1
Your journey has now started, as has your baby’s! As soon as the first day of your child a burst of sensory development is happening in her cute little brain!
Your newborn baby will love gazing into your eyes and listening to your voice. Don’t be fooled by your baby’s apparent lack of response, she is developing at full speed.
Newborn Routine in a Nutshell
Newborn babies can usually see at a distance up to 12 inches, are sensitive to bright lights and may cross their eyes often. This is completely normal, as they are just developing their muscles.
Your baby can see better the toys and objects that have high contrast, a newborn’s favorite colors are white, red and black since they are the easiest to distinguish.
To strengthen your baby’s eyes you can slowly move toys in her sight from side to side.
These stimulation toys are wonderful to help develop your baby’s eyesight, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination (they are white, red and black so that your baby’s attention will be focused on them). They are the ones we used, recommended by Oliver’s therapist.
Aside from gazing at your face and her brand new stimulation toys, your baby will also want to sleep a lot.
I know, it doesn’t feel like so, right?
The truth is that newborns sleep up to 20 hours a day! They just don’t do it in one stretch.
In fact, your baby may wake up every 20 minutes to four hours to feed. The stomach of a newborn baby is really small, so the amount of milk that they can drink is not that big, and they get hungry often.
Not so convenient for parents who want a full night’s sleep, but that day will come, so don’t worry. However, starting a newborn sleep and feeding schedule will help you keep your sanity as a new mom. You can read more about it in this wonderful post from Busy Blooming Joy.
You can also get inspiration about newborn life by reading mamalyssa’s sample routine.
Your little one will also cry, a lot or a little, depending on a number of factors. Crying is the way newborns communicate, so they will communicate with you when they need something.
Want to help your crying baby? Check out this article on reasons why newborns cry.
When you talk, or if you make a loud noise around your baby, she will be responding to the sound. Yup, a newborn’s sense of hearing is quite good!
1st Month Milestones
By the end of the first month (or adjusted month, is you have a premature baby) your baby should be able to:
- Lift her head for short periods of time.
- Turn her head to the side when lying on her stomach.
- Move her hands close to her mouth.
1st Month Reflexes
Your baby should also have the following, natural reflexes:
- If you hold your baby upright and her feet are touching the surface, your baby may imitate walking, placing one foot in front of the other. No, she’s not learning how to walk… yet (but we’ll get there), this is called the stepping reflex and it’s completely normal.
- Give your baby an object, or place your finger in her hand, she should grasp them, clenching her fist tightly. This is the grasping reflex, a result of the baby’s position in the womb.
- Your baby will also suck any object in her mouth, due to the sucking reflex! The sucking reflex develops inside the womb, from the 32nd week of your pregnancy until your 36th week. This is why some premature babies need to learn how to do this after they are born.
My son, Oliver, was born at 31 weeks, so he developed his sucking reflex in his incubator. By the time his adjusted age was 0 months, he was sucking fairly well. This is why us preemie moms need to guide by adjusted age during the first two years of development!
- The only natural fear in humans is the moro reflex, your baby will spread out the arms, pull them in and sometimes cry as if she were falling!
- The startling response is similar to the moro reflex, but it will trigger when they hear a loud noise or are stimulated by a sudden, sharp movement. We are all born with this and it doesn’t go away, we are all startled as adults as well!
- If you gently stroke your baby’s cheek you will trigger the rooting reflex, your newborn will turn in the direction of the stimulus and try to suck. This is due to the rooting reflex.
- Last but not least, the tonic neck reflex, your baby will turn her head to the side and hold our her arm to that same side.
Yup, we are born with a lot of reflexes! Most of these responses happen because your baby was for such a long time inside your womb in a fetal position that it takes her a bit to adjust to the wide, open space after she is born!
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 2
Your 2 month-old baby will have reduced his sleep time significantly. 2-month-olds usually sleep up to 15.5 hours a day, napping three times a day.
It’s also common for babies to be constipated at this point, breastfed babies can go days without a soiled diaper!
It’s still normal that your 2-month-old is sometimes cross-eyed, but her muscles are quickly developing. She will recognize you from across the room!
She will also see her favorite toys or people at a distance to up to 18 inches away.
Is your baby crying excessively, for no apparent reason? It may be baby colic, I love this guide that Jenni from Roots of Truth wrote about what to do if your baby has colic.
By the end of the second month, the moro reflex will probably go away, as well as the stepping reflex.
2nd Month Milestones
By the end of your baby’s second month (or the second month adjusted if your baby was premature) your baby should be able to:
- React to sounds, especially loud noises.
- Make cooing noises (so cute!)
- Lift her head while being held in an upright position.
- Soothe himself or herself by sucking his/her hands.
- Coo in response to mom’s voice.
- Follow the movement of toys, objects, or people with her eyes.
- Your baby may begin to smile at you! (Although don’t worry if she doesn’t just yet!)
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 3
Your baby will grow up so fast you won’t believe how fast time goes by! By the time she reaches 3 months, she’ll be much more active, and you and your spouse will have adjusted much better to your new life at home.
How often is your 3-month-old taking baths? Your baby can take a bath every few days. Giving babies baths too often eliminates the natural oils that their skins produce, which protect them from mild rashes.
When it comes to sleep, you’ll probably won’t sleep through the night yet, but your baby is getting so good at sleeping!
3-month-old babies typically sleep 15 hours a day, in longer stretches, and take 3 naps a day.
Don’t forget about tummy time! By giving your little one some time in her belly, she’ll be strengthening her core, arm and neck muscles. You’ll see how your baby can hold her body higher and higher every day!
3rd Month Milestones
By the end of your baby’s third month (adjusted, if she’s a premature baby), your baby will:
- Start to babble. It’ll melt your heart!
- Imitate some sounds.
- Mimic some expressions.
- Hold upper body with her arms during tummy time.
- Push down with her feet when you hold her upright.
- Open and close her hands.
- Grasp and shake objects.
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 4
By the time they are 4 months old some babies can start eating solids, you should consult with your pediatrician if your baby is ready to start!
If you have the green light from your doctor, start with fruit-based baby food, one to two ounces, three times a day!
Even though your 4-month-old is sleeping fewer hours a day, it will be in longer stretches, so you should be able to sleep a bit more now!
Are you feeling more rested yet? If not, don’t worry, your baby will sleep better and better from now on! In the meantime, Elizabeth from Worth Writing For has a great article on how to survive when your baby isn’t sleeping through the night.
4th Month Milestones
By the end of your baby’s 4th month, your baby will be able to:
- Reach toys with one hand.
- Hold her head steady without support.
- Push up to her elbow during tummy time.
- Start expressing happiness and sadness.
Additionally, your 4-month-old may be able to:
- Roll over from her tummy to her back.
- Start showing signs of boredom, such as crying when playtime stops.
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 5
Your 5-month-old will start showing great interest in reaching places! Your baby is discovering the world, and she just doesn’t want to do it passively anymore!
Some babies may start crawling as early as 5 months! If your baby is not an early crawler (mine wasn’t) she will surely show interest in mobility!
It’s time to start baby-proofing your house, if you haven’t yet!
5th Month Milestones
By the end of the 5th month, babies should:
- Try to roll over in either direction.
- Start putting her hands together.
Also, some babies are able to:
- Reach objects with both hands.
- Start crawling! (Don’t worry if your baby is not showing signs of being ready to crawl yet!)
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 6
Your little one should be napping two times a day! This means that you should have a better sleep at night!
Is your baby drooling, fussy, with swollen gums and crying inexplicably? Most babies get their first tooth by the time they are 6 months!
If you have a preemie, though, it may be a bit longer, our Ollie didn’t get his first tooth until he was 11 months old!
6th Month Milestones
By the end of the sixth month, your baby will:
- Love playing with you, and show it!
- Begin to recognize if she doesn’t know someone who is holding her. The anxiety caused by strangers may start to kick in, she may cry or feel uncomfortable.
- Respond to her name. When you call your baby by name, she will turn her head in your direction.
- Roll over in both directions.
- Put her hands together, as if clapping.
- Support her legs when standing up and holding on to something.
Some babies, by 6 months also:
- Remain in a sitting position without support.
Get Your Free Milestone Printable Tracker Today!
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 7
Your little munchkin is ready for solids now! You should be feeding her about 3 to 4 ounces of solid food three times a day!
Your baby also see everything now in full color! That’s huge!
7th Month Milestones
By the end of the seventh month, your baby will be able to:
- Respond to her name by turning her head in your direction when you call her.
- Remain in a sitting position without support.
- Begin to understand what “no” means.
- Transfer objects from one hand to the other.
- Enjoy playing so much that may cry when playtime stops.
- Hold head steadily without support.
- Bring hands to mouth
- Push up to elbows during tummy time.
Additionally, some babies sit up unassisted by the time they are 7 months old!
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 8
The house may be a mess by the time your little one is eight months old! Especially if you’re going for baby-led weaning!
Your baby loves finger food, and you can usually introduce two 2-ounce snacks a day! It’s time to get creative with super healthy recipes!
8th Month Milestones
By the end of the 8th month, your baby will begin to lean over to pick up toys! Try stimulating cleaning time with songs and play!
Some babies, by the end of their 8th month, are also able to:
- Sit up all by themselves.
- Start scooting toward objects, your baby is getting ready to crawl!
- Begin to self feed snacks and finger food!
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 9
In the blink of an eye, your quiet newborn is now a super active baby!
Your baby is super interested in the world around her, and now she has more mobility to explore it!
Yes. It’s super cute!
Yes. You’ll want to grow an extra pair of eyes to keep your baby safe!
9th Month Milestones
By the end of the 9th month, your baby will be able to:
- Pincer grasp. Your baby will be able to hold small objects between her thumb and index finger! Those fine motor skills are developing at full speed!
- Look for toys you hide from her sight. This is huge! Your baby has now such a good memory that she’ll realize you actually hid her toy, and look for it!
- Play peek-a-boo with you!
- Use her finger to point at things or at people.
- Make different sounds for her favorite stuff, like “mamma” or “baba”.
Some babies are also able to:
- Stand up while holding on to toys and furniture.
- Remember their favorite toys or activities.
- Get overly attached to parents.
- Get anxious around strangers.
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 10
Your baby is probably super active, now, crawling around the house and reaching for toys, phones, furniture, hands…
Don’t worry if your baby is not crawling yet, though! The important thing is that she shows interest to move and leans toward the stuff she loves!
Some babies never crawl and are perfectly healthy.
10th Month Milestones
By the end of the tenth month, your baby will:
- Use her hands more precisely, rattling toys, pushing buttons, or picking up small items. You can even try painting together, a messy, fun activity!
- Say mama and dada, or have a word to call her parents.
Some babies, also can:
- Understand simple instructions. Such as “Say mama!”
- Remember where her favorite toys are. And look for them when they want to play.
- Sit up unassisted, and remain in a sitting position for long periods of time.
- Stand up while holding on to furniture and toys.
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 11
Are you planning a first birthday party yet?
This time is so exciting, you can see your baby grow up, and her personality should be shining through her! She should be eating solids like a pro! And melting your hearts in the process!
11th Month Milestones
By the end of her 11th month, your baby may:
- Start cruising. Walking while she grabs on to furniture and toys. Your baby is getting ready to walk!
- Point to objects when you ask her where they are.
- Stand up while holding your hand.
- Stay standing unassisted!
Baby Milestones by Month: Month 12
Happy birthday baby! And welcome to toddlerhood!
It’s been a full year since your baby came to brighten your lives. And, if you’re like me, there’s a lot of happiness and nostalgia around this time of year!
Don’t know what to get for your baby’s first birthday? Check out my affordable gift guide of stimulation toys for your toddler’s development!
Time to smash that birthday cake!
12th Month Milestones
By the end of their 12th month, babies typically:
- Act shy or anxious around around strangers.
- Cry or are upset when their parents leave.
- Show fear is some situations.
- Bring you a book when they want to hear a story, or a toy when they want to play with it.
- Put out arms or legs when you’re dressing them.
- Shake their heads “no”, wave their hands “bye bye”, or use simple gestures like clapping.
- Try to imitate words they hear, so speak to your toddler as much as you can!
- Copy gestures.
- Put toys in containers and take them out.
- Take a few steps on their own!
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That’s a Wrap
That’s it! Your baby’s first year in a nutshell!
From newborn to one year old! It’s a wonderful year, and the best is yet to come!
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