When my daughter was a baby, I carefully followed each of her individual milestones. Some were very far ahead of average, while others lagged behind. When she needed a developmental evaluation at age two, I was fortunate to have my own records demonstrating my daughter’s developmental history– they showed that she had always been an excellent communicator but a bit slow on her physical development.
As a parent, one of the most important things that you can do during your child’s first year is to keep track of his or her emotional, physical, social and linguistic milestones. These not only help to make sure your child is “on track,” they also give you an opportunity to record and remember some of the happiest moment’s of your child’s all-too-short infancy.
Here are a few developmental milestones to look for.
Social Infant Milestones
3 Months Old: Your baby should be able to smile, enjoy interaction with people, imitate facial and body movements and develop more complex facial expressions.
7 Months Old: Your infant may engage in more interactive social play, express joy and respond to the tone of voice of other people.
8 – 12 Months Old: During this time, your infant will develop even more complex social skills. He or she may be shy or anxious around strangers, preferring the company of direct relatives. Your infant will enjoy imitating other people during play and begin “testing limits” of acceptable behavior.
Physical Infant Milestones
3 Months Old: Most healthy babies can raise their head and chest when placed on their stomachs. By this time, most babies have also mastered the ability to bring their hands to their mouths, open and close their hands and grasp and shake rattles.
4 – 7 Months Old: The aforementioned skills will expand to include supporting weight on the legs, sitting unassisted, reaching with one hand and transferring objects between hands.
8 – 12 Months Old: A baby’s physical development kicks into high gear. At this age, a baby will learn to get him or herself into a sitting position without assistance, crawl forward and pull him or herself to a stand. Although many parents are concerned when a baby can’t crawl before the first birthday, this is actually quite normal. Late walking is only a concern when it persists beyond eighteen months.
3 Months Old: By the time a baby is in this stage, he or she should be able to recognize familiar people, follow an object with her eyes and coordinate the movement of hands and eyes.
7 Months Old: At this age, most babies can find partially hidden objects and explore their surroundings using their hands and mouths.
8 – 12 Months Old: During these months, babies will add several other cognitive skills to their repertoires. They will use multiple techniques to explore objects, imitate gestures and understand the function of common items like phones and toothbrushes. A 1-year-old can also usually recognize the names of several objects and people.
All children develop at a different rate; your child’s path of development is as unique as his or her fingerprint. However, there is no harm in consulting an expert if you are concerned about your baby’s developmental milestones. A pediatrician or a child development expert can either reassure you that your infant’s development is normal or enroll your child in early treatment to eliminate developmental delays.