Developmental Milestones for Your Child’s First Year

The first year of a child’s life is a time of incredible growth and development. Each month, your child will accomplish new things and reach new milestones before you know it. But many parents wonder if their child is reaching all of the developmental milestones that they should or if they’re reaching these goals within the expected timeframe.

An important point to remember is that every child is different, and what comes easily to one child may take another child a bit longer to master. So even if your baby isn’t achieving some of their milestones exactly on time, that’s okay! But if you have any worries, you should, of course, bring these up to your child’s pediatrician at their next well visit.

On this page, you’ll find a comprehensive list of the developmental milestones for children from birth through 12 months of age, as well as some tips on how you can help your child achieve their milestones.

Your Baby by Two Months

You may not expect much to happen in the first two months of your baby’s life, but they’re absorbing everything that happens around them like a tiny, adorable sponge to help them learn and grow! By two months, most babies will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • Opens their fists briefly
  • Moves both arms and legs, especially when excited
  • Holds head up while on their tummy (even if a bit wobbly)
  • Attempts to reach for toys
  • Tracks the movement of things (like a favorite toy) with their eyes
  • Reacts to loud sounds
  • Makes eye contact with you
  • Turns head towards sounds and voices
  • Makes sounds (such as cooing)
  • Watches you as you move around
  • Fixes attention on something for several seconds
  • Smiles or appears contented when they see you
  • Smiles when you talk to them
  • Calms down when you speak to them or pick them up
  • Latches well to breast or bottle
  • Drinks between two to six ounces of milk per feeding (six times per day)
  • Moves tongue forward and back while suckling
  • Swallows without coughing during feeding

Your Baby by Four Months

Time flies, and your baby is growing every day! By four months, most babies will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • Holds head steady on their own when you’re holding them
  • Rolls from their back to their tummy (or gets very close)
  • Brings their hands to their mouth
  • Reaches for toys that are close by
  • Reaches for their feet when lying on their back
  • Moves a toy from one hand to another
  • Holds their weight on their legs when standing (with your help to balance)
  • Makes sounds back at you when you say things to them
  • Turns head to listen to you speak
  • Makes different sounds to communicate different emotions
  • Babbles and makes sounds other than crying
  • Looks at their hands with some interest
  • Explores their toys with hands and mouth
  • Opens their mouth when they see the breast or bottle at feeding time
  • Gives small laughs when you entertain them
  • Makes sounds or movements to get or keep your attention
  • Generally not upset by everyday sounds
  • Calms down when being rocked, held, or soothed
  • Shows interest in your food, such as looking at or reaching for it
  • Drinks about four to six ounces of milk per feeding

Your Baby by Six Months

Your baby has gotten bigger, stronger, and more active every day! By six months, most babies will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • Pushes up with their arms straight when on their tummy
  • Can maintain a sitting up position with some support
  • Uses hands to hold their body up when sitting
  • Has “conversations” with you (making sounds in response to your words)
  • Makes squealing noises
  • Uses consonant sounds while babbling (“ma ma ma, da da da” etc.)
  • Notices toys that make sounds or light up
  • Closes their mouth to show that they are full
  • Puts new things (toys, keys, etc.) in their mouth to explore
  • Gives a full belly laugh at things that are funny
  • Looks at their reflection in a mirror
  • Knows and responds to familiar people
  • Starts to eat solid foods (cereal, pureed fruits and vegetables, etc.)
  • Opens their mouth when you bring the spoon close
  • Uses tongue to move food around their mouth

Your Baby by Nine Months

Your baby is growing stronger and more active every day, and they’ve been learning more about the world around them nonstop! By nine months, most babies will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • Can sit up on their own without support
  • Uses fingers to drag food (like cereal) toward them
  • May be gearing up to crawl (sitting on hands and knees, rocking forward and back) or crawling already
  • More easily able to roll from tummy to back and back to tummy
  • Can pick up small objects with thumbs and fingers
  • Makes different types of sounds
  • Lifts their arms to tell you they want to be picked up
  • Imitates sounds you make
  • Does simple gestures, like shake their head “no”
  • Looks at familiar objects or people when named
  • Looks for an object they have dropped
  • Bangs two objects together
  • Follows simple commands with hand gestures (like “get the bottle” while pointing at it)
  • Makes different facial expressions to show happiness, sadness, etc.
  • Reacts when you leave
  • Plays peek-a-boo and laughs or smiles
  • May act shy around strangers
  • Holds and drinks their own bottle
  • Eats more types of solid foods
  • Reacts to different flavors of food
  • May be teething and enjoy chewing on teething toys

Your Baby by 12 Months

Your baby has reached their first birthday, and they have grown so much already! By twelve months, most babies will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • Pulls their body up to stand
  • Walks while holding onto furniture
  • May start trying to take steps without furniture
  • Can drink from a cup without a lid, with your help
  • Balances while throwing objects
  • Claps hands
  • Pulls off their own socks and shoes
  • Waves “bye-bye”
  • Follows simple commands like “come here”
  • Says a couple of words that others can understand
  • Calls parents by individual names (“mama,” “dada,” etc.)
  • Listens (or understands) when you say “no”
  • Uses their hands to communicate desires (pick me up, give me that, etc.)
  • Puts things into a container
  • Crawls toward things they see far away
  • Enjoys listening to music or lullabies
  • Looks for things when you hide them
  • Plays simple games with you like pat-a-cake
  • Reacts to the emotions you show
  • May be content to explore on their own or be separated from you for longer periods of time
  • Hugs and kisses you, familiar people, pets, etc.
  • Eats finger foods easily
  • Tries new types of foods like pieces of soft fruits or cooked pasta
  • Starts using a cup more than a bottle or breastfeeding
  • May try using utensils to eat

How to Help Your Baby Achieve Their Milestones

Even when your baby is a newborn, there are many things you can do to help them learn and grow with more confidence. The following are some great ideas that you can do with your baby every day:

  • Give your baby positive attention like smiling when you see them. As your baby gets older, you may act excited when they show you something.
  • Talk to your baby every day. You can sing to them, tell them a story, or read to them. This helps them get used to communication and can aid in their language development.
  • Spend time cuddling and holding your baby every day so they feel safe and loved.
  • Try to keep your baby on a routine as much as possible when it comes to feeding, nap times, bath times, and so on.
  • Keep your home (or the area where your baby spends most of their time) “baby-proofed” as much as possible to reduce your baby’s chance of getting hurt. This will help them be more confident explorers.
  • Do not let your baby spend a lot of time watching screens (like a TV, phone, tablet, etc.). Screen time is not recommended for children under two years old.
  • Give your baby time to explore freely where they are not trapped in a bouncer, baby seat, etc.
  • Talk about the things your baby shows interest in. For example, if they are looking at a toy with interest, point to it and talk about its colors, its name, etc.
  • As your baby starts to make more complex sounds, mimic those sounds (like “bababa”). When your baby starts to try saying words (like “ba” for bottle, or “da” for dog, etc.) expand on what your baby is saying (i.e. “Yes, that is a dog, and his name is Spot,” and so on).
  • Play simple games with your baby like Peek-a-Boo.
  • When your baby starts reaching and crawling, place toys a little out of their reach and encourage them to grab the toys. When they do, cheer for their success!
  • As appropriate for their age, give your baby lots of new foods to try out so they can get used to different flavors and textures.

The most important thing is to give your baby lots of love and encouragement. Babies are fast learners, and in the first year of life, your baby will be learning a ton, so be there for them! And if you have any questions or concerns, you should always reach out to your child’s pediatrician or our pediatric therapists to get answers and advice.