Our babies will grow and develop at an astonishing speed. The first few months will be all about eating, sleeping and crying – lots of crying! However, we can also look forward to seeing our babies learning each day. The milestones we look for aren’t all about sitting, crawling and walking. There are plenty of signs to look for in an infant under six months of age that will let us know our baby is on track. We will notice our baby growing much stronger and more coordinated after only two weeks.
After two months, baby will start making leaps and bounds forward. We are surely exhausted and sleep deprived, but these stages will go by quickly. We have to try our best to pry our eyes open and enjoy every second before it passes. Watching our babies achieve a new skill is an exciting time for parents.
These milestones are simply guidelines. Our babies’ health care provider will evaluate the baby’s development at each well-visit. It’s always a good idea to call and discuss our concerns if we feel the baby is falling behind. Most babies will hit milestones at similar ages. However, it’s common for a perfectly healthy baby to fall behind in some areas and sprint ahead in others. Each baby will progress at their own speed and in their own way.
An important note to keep in mind is premature babies will use the guidelines a bit different. The due date will be used to calculate the age, not the baby’s birthdate. For example, if our baby was born two months early, she will be hitting the milestones two months later than the guidelines predict.
15 Sweet Smiles
Smiling is baby’s first social skill and those little smirks can make us melt! When my baby started smiling at 9 weeks old my husband would have bet money it was just gas. That’s way to young we thought. I wish we would have put money on it because it was indeed a smile – the proof – our son smiled every time he saw a ball. Two years later, a ball will still put a smile on his face.
According to Parenting.com, An infant can't produce what's called a social smile until about 8 weeks. It will take at least that long for his nervous system and vision to develop enough to see you and produce a smile in response. When our babies smile it is a sign of emotional growth.
Don’t worry if the smiles don’t start right at 8 weeks. All newborns will develop slightly different. It will only be a matter of time until your little one is smiling from ear to ear.
14 Catch Them Cooing
After about two months of nothing but cries, we will finally get some relief and hear the sweet sounds of our babies cooing. The sounds might not have any meaning yet, but they will begin to discover their own voice. The “ohhh” and “ahhh” sounds are often the first ones we hear. This is a huge milestone for baby. We should always respond to the cooing by repeating similar sounds and adding in a bit of real words to create a conversation.
They will catch on to the idea of a conversation before we know it! Around 6 months of age our babies will start to respond to sounds by making their own sounds. They can string vowels together (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”) and may begin to say consonant sounds (“m”, “b”). Mom and dad might know what they are saying, but chances are other people won’t understand them yet. Our babies will also make sure to let us know when they are happy or upset. Believe me, we KNOW when they are upset!
13 Focus On The Face
At one month old our babies can see about 8-12 inches away. This is the perfect distance for them to look at our faces while we hold them. It’s a good idea to get close and make eye contact when we talk, sing, or read to our babies.
By two months, our babies will start to recognize the faces of people they see often. Nothing makes us feel more important than when our baby smiles with excitement as we walk into the room. Paying attention to and learning the details of someone’s face is a cognitive development. It requires our babies to use problem solving techniques to think and remember ones face.
Once the baby remembers mom and dad’s face it might be all they want to see. By four months old our babies eyes will start to follow us everywhere we go. They can now see us coming at a distance so we better put our smiles on as soon as we walk into the room!
12 Head Control
We will be shocked at how soon our babies start to move their heads. They can start lifting their heads for a brief moment after about two weeks. Now, that doesn’t mean they have any control so it’s important we remember to always support the head. It is still shocking how strong they will become after each day of life.
Two months is the age when a slight amount of control will be noticeable. They can pick their head up and turn it from side to side. This is also a good age for tummy time! We will see our babies gain a lot of head control during tummy time when they lift their head.
The steady, unsupported head control will come around four months. During tummy time we will start to see our babies doing “push-ups” or pushing up onto their elbows and holding their heads up for longer periods of time. Like we’ve said before, all babies will progress at different paces.
11 Following Sights And Sounds
After a long night with the baby, she finally goes to sleep at 7a.m. The husband gets up to get ready for work and lets out a huge sneeze with loud sound effects to go with it. The baby starts crying. Does this sound familiar? It’s common for babies to be afraid of sudden loud noises. By two months old our babies will start responding to sounds. It might be fear or they may turn their head and look in the direction of the noise out of curiosity.
When we go to the doctor we have to follow the light with our eyes. Start using this practice with baby! Hold their favorite toy in front of their face and their eyes will follow. By four months the baby will be able to watch us from a distance. Their eyes will race back and forth across the room trying to keep up with us. They will also be able to take in all of the wonderful – and not so wonderful - sounds of the world!
10 Tummy Time
Tummy time can start as early as day one to help our babies grow strong. According to Baby Center, Experts find that babies who don't spend time face-down often have some delays in their development of motor skills. Many babies don’t care for tummy time. They might fuss or cry and it’s okay to let them for a few minutes. We want to make sure we’re nearby to reassure them that everything is alright.
Before 1992 most babies slept on their tummy and were used to being in that position. Today, American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to put babies to sleep on their back to reduce their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies are especially used to being on their back with car seats, swings, bouncy seats, etc.
It’s no wonder our babies freak out when we lay them on their belly. It’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Not to mention it is hard work to lift their heads up while laying on their belly. Their tolerance for spending time on their tummy will increase, or they will just figure out how to roll over quickly – then it is baby’s choice!
9 A Bit Of Independence
Our babies will have a bit of independence before we know it! By the age of two months our babies can briefly calm themselves for a short period of time. They may bring their hands to their mouth and suck on their fingers or look at something familiar to give them a moment of happiness. This milestone is huge for both the parents and the baby.
At this young age we don’t need to worry about spoiling our babies. It is okay to let them cry for a moment, but responding to them promptly will help them feel loved and secure. We can help them learn to sooth themselves by guiding their thumb to their mouth or offering a pacifier.
Once your baby is physically and emotionally ready, typically around 4-6 months, it’s okay to use the “cry it out” (CIO) sleep training method. For this we need to lay our babies in their crib while they are still awake. Say goodnight and leave the room. When the baby starts to cry leave them alone for a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) then go back into the room and give them reassurance. Leave the lights off, talk softly and do not pick them up. After a minute or two of comforting leave the room again and repeat the process until the baby is asleep. If the baby is showing a lot of resistance they might not be ready for this method. Wait a few weeks and try again. The amount of independence will skyrocket after a baby can put themselves to sleep. This can be a win for everyone!
8 Crying For A Reason
When a baby is born his/her first natural instinct is to cry. We want to hear them cry and that usually tells us everything is alright. At this stage babies don’t know why they are crying – they just cry, A LOT! Crying is unavoidable and it can be stressful when we know the baby has been changed, fed, burped, held, and they are still crying and we don’t know why.
Our babies will quickly learn that crying gets mom and dad’s attention. It can be hard to differentiate between the cries, but eventually we figure out what each different cry means. This milestone is one for the parents to strive to hit, and just like the babies, the parents will also learn at their own pace. Don’t worry if it takes a little longer to figure out what each cry means.
Our babies might have a demanding, loud, and hard cry when they are hungry. The cry may be softer and have moments of silence between each scream when they are tired. Some of the more difficult needs to catch are stomach problems from colic and gas, wants to be held, too hot or too cold, teething pains (can start at 4 months and sometimes earlier), and more or less stimulation.
7 Responding To Affection
Babies can take a lot more love than they show in return, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love us. We are the center of their universe and it will take at least two months for them to start showing some love. The first way baby says “I love you” is with a smile. We smile at them and they respond with a smile in return. The smiles turn into giggles that will light up the room. Seriously though, there is nothing better than a baby laughing.
When baby is around four months old they will show us affection by imitating us. Parents, being a role model starts way earlier than we think! If we pucker up our lips to make kissy sounds then baby can say “I love you too” by imitating. We can also start interacting with games such as peek-a-boo. For centuries, most babies have responded to this game with nothing but love!
6 Hand Eye Coordination
Hand eye coordination is something we continue to work on through adulthood, but it all starts coming together during infancy. Remember how hard it was to get our babies handprints? Well, that’s because when babies are born it is a natural reflex to have closed and clenched fists. It’s not until about three months when baby’s hands will open and they will start to gain some control.
Three months is also when the baby might start putting their fingers in their mouth. They are still learning that their hands are part of their body so the fingers won’t always go straight to the mouth. They may poke their eyes and scratch their face while they are looking for the sweet spot.
By four months the baby has developed enough muscle coordination to grasp a small object. This is when we will see the hand eye coordination soar. Our babies will love reaching for toys and grabbing them.
5 Time For Toys
It’s never too early to introduce toys to our babies. We just have to make sure they are age appropriate. By the end of three months our babies’ sense of touch will be better developed. We should do our best to provide toys with different textures, shapes and sizes. Our infants will be excited to hold and explore their new toys.
Infant gyms or play mats are good toys for infant babies. The interesting objects that dangle down will catch the baby’s attention and they can reach and swat at all the different toys surrounding them. These toys are also great for tummy time! However, we don’t necessarily need any fancy gyms or mats. Holding a toy just out of range for our baby will allow them to reach and swat all the same.
It’s important that we remember not to leave our babies unattended with any toys that they could get tangled up in.
4 Rolling Over
Once our babies have head control they will be able to roll over from tummy to back. This can happen as early as four months. Tummy time plays an important role in teaching a baby how to roll over. The baby will lift their head and shoulders up using their arms as support. These “mini push-ups” will help them develop the muscles they need to roll over. The first time we see our babies roll we might just flip out a bit – it’s thrilling! Our babies will likely be excited to.
Rolling over is another big step in the direction of independence. Once the baby gets the hand of rolling over they might use it as a form of transportation to get to a toy – or us! Rolling over from back to belly usually takes a little longer to develop. They need some serious arm and neck muscles to pull that off. It usually happens closer to five or six months.
3 Looking In The Mirror
A mirror can be a magical tool for babies. They love looking through a mirror, and according to What to Expect, mirror play bolsters our babies development. Playing games in the mirror can help the baby learn how to focus, keep track of images, and discover all the miraculous things a face can do.
Car mirrors are great for both parents and baby. We can keep our eye on the baby in the car and they can entertain themselves. Another idea for mirror play is to prop a mirror against the wall or use a door hanging mirror. We can sit with the baby so they can watch us playing together. Touch their nose, stroke their hair and point to the reflection of the two of you. They will likely be intrigued and curious to find out more!
Looking in the mirror will also promote social and emotional development as the baby interacts with us. It will take some time, but eventually they will realize the sweet face they have been looking at is their own.
2 Using Those Legs
Between four and seven months our babies will be able to support weight on their legs and bounce while we hold them. Developing these gross motor skills are essential milestones to meet. Strengthening their legs and being able to bear weight on them is an important prequel to standing and walking.
If we want to encourage our babies muscle development there are ways we can help. We can hold them under their arm pits and allow their feet to touch the floor. They won’t be sturdy so don’t let go or put too much weight on their legs. Let the baby be the leader. They might want to bounce a few times or they might lift their legs up telling us “no, I’m not ready for this.”
It’s SO important that we don’t try to push our babies to bear weight on their legs before they are ready. The muscle tone and skills take time to develop and many factors go into hitting this milestone.
1 They Know Their Name!
By six months our babies should know their own name. That sounds crazy right!? When we call their name and see their little heads turn and look in our direction it is amazing. The first few times it happens we might chalk it up to be a coincidence. The baby has been hearing his/her name every day and now they are starting to identify with it.
Using our babies’ names frequently when we talk to them will help them learn their name. Sometimes babies will turn to look when they hear us calling their name as early as four months. Chances are they haven’t made the connection to their name yet, but they have made a connection to our voice.
Each baby will develop at a different pace. They might hit this milestone earlier or later than most babies. If you have any concerns about your baby not hitting the anticipated milestones talk with your pediatrician.