First Year Development: Infant Development

First Year Development: Infant Development

Perhaps your six month old has not rolled over yet, but the child development chart shows that some babies start rolling over at five months. Or possibly your neighbor’s eleven month old is walking, but your thirteen month old has not attempted to walk. Maybe you are worried that your baby’s development is not where it should be and wonder what this means for his or her future. Comparing your baby’s development to other infants or to norms on developmental charts should be avoided. Instead it is important to know that babies develop at different rates and should only be compared to their individual milestones from the previous week or month.

Categories of Infant Development:

Infant development is divided into four categories:

  • Social: How your baby interacts to the human face and voice. Examples include learning to smile and coo. A social delay may indicate a problem with vision or hearing or with emotional or intellectual development.
  • Language: Receptive language development (how well baby actually understands) is a better gauge of progress than expressive language development (how well baby actually speaks). Slow language development can indicate a vision or hearing problem and should be evaluated.
  • Large motor development: Holding their head up, sitting, pulling up, rolling over, and walking are examples of large motor development. Very slow starters should be evaluated to be certain there are no physical or health risks for normal development.
  • Small motor development: Eye-hand coordination, reaching or grasping, and manipulating objects are examples of small motor development. Early accomplishments may predict a person will be good with their hands, but delays do not necessarily mean they are going to be all “thumbs” later.

Your Baby’s Development Month by Month:

The following milestones are listed under the FIRST month in which they may be achieved. However, remember that babies develop at different rates, so if your baby has not reached one or more of these milestones, it does not mean that something is wrong. He or she will probably develop these skills within the next few months. If you are still concerned, consider discussing this with your baby’s pediatrician. The delay could indicate a problem, but more than likely it will turn out to be normal for your baby. Premature babies generally reach milestones later than others of the same birth age, often achieving them closer to the adjusted age and sometimes later.

  • The First Month:
    • Can lift head momentarily
    • Turns head from side to side when lying on back
    • Hands stay clenched
    • Strong grasp reflex present
    • Looks and follows object moving in front of them in range of 45 degrees
    • Sees black and white patterns
    • Quiets when a voice is heard
    • Cries to express displeasure
    • Makes throaty sounds
    • Looks intently at parents when they talk to him/her
  • The Second Month:
    • Lifts head almost 45 degrees when lying on stomach
    • Head bobs forward when held in sitting position
    • Grasp reflex decreases
    • Follows dangling objects with eyes
    • Visually searches for sounds
    • Makes noises other than crying
    • Cries become distinctive (wet, hungry, etc.)
    • Vocalizes to familiar voices
    • Social smile demonstrated in response to various stimuli
  • The Third Month:
    • Begins to bear partial weight on both legs when held in a standing position
    • Able to hold head up when sitting but still bobs forward
    • When lying on stomach can raise head and shoulders between 45 and 90 degrees
    • Bears weight on forearms
    • Grasp reflex absent
    • Holds objects but does not reach for them
    • Clutches own hands and pulls at blankets and clothes
    • Follows objects 180 degrees
    • Locates sound by turning head and looking in the same direction
    • Squeals, coos, babbles, and chuckles
    • “Talks” when spoken to
    • Recognizes faces, voices, and objects
    • Smiles when he/she sees familiar people, and engages in play with them
    • Shows awareness to strange situations
  • The Fourth Month:
    • Drooling begins
    • Good head control
    • Sits with support
    • Bears some weight on legs when held upright
    • Raises head and chest off surface to a 90 degree angle
    • Rolls from back to side
    • Explores and plays with hands
    • Tries to reach for objects but overshoots
    • Grasps objects with both hands
    • Eye-hand coordination begins
    • Makes consonant sounds
    • Laughs
    • Enjoys being rocked, bounced or swung
  • The Fifth Month:
    • Signs of teething begin
    • Holds head up when sitting
    • Rolls from stomach to back
    • When lying on back puts feet to mouth
    • Voluntarily grasps and holds objects
    • Plays with toes
    • Takes objects directly to mouth
    • Watches objects that are dropped
    • Says “ah-goo” or similar vowel-consonant combinations
    • Smiles at mirror image
    • Gets upset if you take a toy away
    • Can tell family and strangers apart
    • Begins to discover parts of his/her body
  • The Sixth Month:
    • Chewing and biting occur
    • When on stomach can lift chest and part of stomach off the surface bearing weight on hands
    • Lifts head when pulled to a sitting position
    • Rolls from back to stomach
    • Bears majority of weight when being held in a standing position
    • Grasps and controls small objects
    • Holds bottle
    • Grabs feet and pulls to mouth
    • Adjusts body to see an object
    • Turns head from side to side and then looks up or down
    • Prefers more complex visual stimuli
    • Says one syllable sounds like “ma”, “mu”, “da”, and “di”
    • Recognizes parents
  • The Seventh Month:
    • Sits without support, may lean forward on both hands
    • Bears full weight on feet
    • Bounces when held in standing position
    • Bears weight on one hand when lying on stomach
    • Transfers objects from one hand to another
    • Bangs objects on surfaces
    • Able to fixate on small objects
    • Responds to name
    • Awareness of depth and space begin
    • Has taste preferences
    • “Talks” when others are talking
  • The Eight Month:
    • Sits well without support
    • Bears weight on legs and may stand holding on to furniture
    • Adjusts posture to reach an object
    • Picks up objects using index, fourth, and fifth finger against thumb
    • Able to release objects
    • Pulls string to obtain object
    • Reaches for toys that are out of reach
    • Listens selectively to familiar words
    • Begins combining syllables like “mama” and “dada” but does not attach a meaning
    • Understands the word no (but does not always obey it!)
    • Dislikes diaper change and being dressed
  • The Ninth Month:
    • Begins crawling
    • Pulls up to standing position from sitting
    • Sits for a prolonged time (10minutes)
    • May develop a preference for use of one hand
    • Uses thumb and index finger to pick up objects
    • Responds to simple verbal commands
    • Comprehends “no no”
    • Increased interest in pleasing parents
    • Puts arms in front of face to avoid having it washed
  • The Tenth Month:
    • Goes from stomach to sitting position
    • Sits by falling down
    • Recovers balance easily while sitting
    • Lifts one foot to take a step while standing
    • Comprehends “bye-bye”
    • Says “dada” or “mama” with meaning
    • Says one other word beside “mama” and “dada” (hi, bye, no, go)
    • Waves bye
    • Object permanence begins to develop
    • Repeats actions that attract attention
    • Plays interactive games such a “pat-a-cake”
    • Enjoys being read to and follows pictures in books
  • The Eleventh Month:
    • Walks holding on to furniture or other objects
    • Places one object after another into a container
    • Reaches back to pick up an object when sitting
    • Explores objects more thoroughly
    • Able to manipulate objects out of tight fitting spaces
    • Rolls a ball when asked
    • Becomes excited when a task is mastered
    • Acts frustrated when restricted
    • Shakes head for “no”
  • The Twelfth Month:
    • Walks with one hand held
    • May stand alone and attempt first steps alone
    • Sits down from standing position without help
    • Attempts to build two block tower but may fail
    • Turns pages in a book
    • Follows rapidly moving objects
    • Says three or more words other than “mama” or “dada”
    • Comprehends the meaning of several words
    • Repeats the same words over & over again
    • Imitates sounds, such as the sounds dogs and cats make
    • Recognizes objects by name
    • Understands simple verbal commands
    • Shows affection
    • Shows independence in familiar surrounding
    • Clings to parents in strange situation
    • Searches for object where it was last seen

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Recommended Reading

You may find the following books helpful.

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Last Updated: 07/2014

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Wongs Nursing Care of Infants and Children Seventh Ed. Wong, Donna L., et al, 2003.

Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Babys First Year. Johnson, Robert V., M.D., et al, Ch. 29-34.