Babies learn and develop many new skills in their first six months of life. When they are first born they have limited movement and muscle tone. By the time they are six-months-old, they should be able to hold their heads up, roll over, make a variety of noises and move items from one hand to another. This has taken a huge amount of developmental progress and each stage the baby reaches prepares it for the next.
While all babies develop at different rates, and premature babies may develop more slowly than their full-term peers, if a baby has not reached significant milestones within a healthy timeframe, medical intervention is recommended. According to Parents.com it is important to make sure the baby has plenty of stimulation and age-appropriate toys to encourage it to develop new skills.
There are several psychological requirements for a baby to be able to crawl in the second six months of its life. Health workers and doctors will look for certain milestones to check for any developmental delay or erratic behaviour that might flag a problem. For instance, if the baby is not making noises there could be an issue with hearing or speech development and help is available.
15 Holds Their Head Up
The head is a very heavy part of our bodies, and a baby will need to develop strength in its neck muscles before it can hold it up. Baby Centre tells us that this is an important milestone for a baby and it helps with later development.
A newborn baby’s head needs support and it will flop from side to side if not held when lifting the baby. As the muscles grow and develop, the baby will be able to hold its head up on its own completely, usually within the first six months of life. By two to three months the baby should be able to hold up its head to a level of about 45 degrees. By four months the baby should be able to hold its head up for some time and keep it steady.
It’s important to monitor your baby’s ability to hold its head up as this can provide a marker to its development and if there is a significant delay, it’s time to seek advice.
Premature babies might develop at a slower pace that full-term babies, and all babies develop at their own pace, but if your baby is beyond three months old and still not holding its head up consistently, you need to consult a doctor.
14 Sits Unaided
Your baby will need to have developed the muscular and motor skills to hold its head up before it can sit unaided. New-born babies like to be propped up in a sitting position to see more, and in the first few months, this is a great way for your baby to play and interact.
The back muscles need to develop as well as the neck muscles for a baby to be able to sit up on its own and this is typically around five to six months of age.
If your baby is around this age and unable to sit unaided, you can prop the baby up and move its legs apart to give more core stability. This may encourage the baby to practice leaning forward and developing strength and confidence to sit in time.
Although babies all develop in their own time, it’s worth consulting a health professional if your baby can’t sit unaided by nine months. You can encourage your baby to sit by helping to develop curiosity and strength. Put the baby on its tummy to develop neck strength and when the baby is propped up in a sitting position, putting toys just out of reach may encourage the baby to reach for them.
13 Rolls On Both Sides
Babies learn to roll over at around four to six months. They need the necessary head control to do this, but once they have mastered that, rolling should follow. If the baby needs a bit of prompting, a favorite toy or person might be an incentive to get the baby to move. Curiosity and delight at the new skill should do the rest to get the baby moving. When baby does perform its new trick, give lots of claps and praise, which will provide a positive sense of encouragement.
It’s a good idea to put your baby on its tummy for short periods every day, just to encourage baby to hold its head up and build muscle strength.
It’s always wise to keep an eye on your baby in case the first time he rolls is when he’s on a bed or high surface. If the baby is still not rolling by six months and shows no signs of doing so, get a doctor’s opinion to make sure there is no evidence of developmental delay.
12 Reaches For Objects
At first, babies can’t open their hands and this is something that develops around the second month. By about four months a baby should be able to reach for objects, often their feet!
They need to develop the necessary hand eye coordination skills to do this and it may take time. Your baby may just flail around and bat at objects until three to four months old. You can encourage your baby to reach by placing objects in its path or lying your baby under a baby gym. Noisy objects and sensory toys will help to encourage and teach.
Babies will start to reach with both hands and it is only later that they will learn to reach out with one hand only and be able to reach with fingers by about six months according to What To Expect. It’s always important to point out that babies develop in their own time at their own pace, and as long as there is no developmental issues, they will develop this skill when they’re ready. However, there are guidelines based on averages, and if your baby doesn’t reach them by a certain age it is best to have him evaluated.
Reaching out for objects and picking them up as stage of development is important for your baby as it is the precursor to feeding and even holding a pen.
11 Turns Everything Into A Chew Toy
Babies explore the world through touch and other senses, so putting things in its mouth is just part of developing. It’s a learning process for the baby, seeing how things feel and taste and, as long as what it’s putting in its mouth isn’t a risk, this stage of development at four to five months, will be beneficial for learning other skills.
Keep any small objects or anything sharp or dangerous well out of baby’s way and be aware that if the baby hasn’t learned to roll yet, this could happen suddenly, so it’s wise not to leave the baby unattended.
Parents are usually worried about bacteria and germs being passed to the baby through its mouth. So, Parents.com reminds us that washing the toys on a regular basis is a good idea.
There is a school of thought that believes that germs passed to the baby through ‘mouthing’ can act help build up the immune system. Choking is seen as a much greater risk.
There are plenty of toys on the market that are designed to be put in baby’s mouth and provide a range of sensory experiences. These toys can also help your baby when its teething and needs something to chew on to relieve sore gums.
10 Baby Babble
Babies are learning all the time in the early years, and making sounds is a big part of this process. Baby will be learning about parts of its body, including its mouth, tongue and hands, and may start making noises (other than crying) in the first couple of months. This may start with a little gentle coo-ing. Proper babbling, using consonants like ‘p’ and ‘b’ will occur during the first four to six months usually.
Babbling and repeating sounds is a part of the baby’s development.
It’s an important part of speech development and Wikipedia notes that there is research to back up the theory that babies mimic, not only sounds of those around them, but intonation too.
It’s helpful to talk to your baby, on its level and making eye contact. Babies learn a lot through copying so keep your baby stimulated by talking to him, even if it's just a commentary of what you are doing. If your baby makes a sound, you can try repeating it and asking questions. Different intonations of your voice help babies to learn as well. Even if your baby is tiny, you can read books. The visual and aural stimulation will be beneficial.
9 Focuses On People And Objects
When they are born, babies’ sight is not fully developed, it takes time for the eyes to adjust to the point that they can truly focus on objects. In the first couple of months, a baby’s eyes might appear to wander as the baby learns to appreciate the world through its eyes and the muscles develop. However, by two months old the baby should be able to focus on familiar people such as parents. According to the American Optometric Association, as the baby approaches three months, it should have started to focus on a moving object.
You can help to develop your baby’s sight and curiosity by moving objects closer to her and then moving them from side to side and further away. Most babies love brightly colored objects and something that makes a noise will add extra stimulation. Babies develop a sense of color during the first few months of life, so stimulate baby with a variety of colors and shapes.
If you are concerned that your baby is not focusing on objects, and eyes still appear to be wandering by four to five months old, it’s a good idea to seek some advice so potential problems can be spotted and dealt with as soon as possible.
8 Smiles And Giggles
Parents are always so excited to see the first smile from their baby. Mothers may look fervently for a smile in the early days and be told that it was just gas passing.
Developmental experts say that the first true smile will come around two months, when muscles and comprehension have improved. Some babies smile earlier than this, each baby progresses at its own stage. Mothers will swear they see their babies smile in the early days in response to their faces.
There is a school of thought that believes that babies do smile from birth but that it isn’t an emotional smile, according to Just the Facts Baby.
True giggling comes about two to four months. It’s a total joy to see a baby giggle and once parents discover the trigger, it is tempting to repeat the giggle inducing activity ad nauseum! It’s an important developmental stage for the baby as they are learning about noise formation. They also learn that they elicit a response in others and if it’s a positive one they are more likely to repeat the action. Chatting to babies and making routine activities seem fun will distract them from a nappy change for example, and they will love the interaction.
7 Turns Toward Sound
Scientists believe that babies can respond to sound while in the womb, and will kick in response to a familiar voice, such as its mother’s. Hearing is said to be the most developed of the five senses in a newborn baby says Fit Pregnancy.
It’s vital to monitor a baby’s hearing. For instance does the baby react to a loud noise? Efficient hearing is imperative as a precursor to speech, so if babies are showing no evidence of hearing in the early months, it’s important to seek medical advice.
Keep an eye on baby’s reaction to sudden noises or changes in noise and look for a response in the first three months. A baby should learn to turn towards a sound by about three to four months old, and then start to make noises in the following weeks as she learns early speech techniques.
Parents can encourage babies to move towards sounds by placing musical toys to one side of them and seeing if the baby responds. Stand a little way back from baby and make a noise or start chatting and see if baby turns to react to the familiar sound of your voice.
6 Follows Dangling Objects
By the time a baby reaches six months it has developed many of the important skills and learned so much for its tender age. It should be able to recognize colors and be curious and respond to a noise or exciting shape.
If a baby has a mobile or dangling toy, it is likely to reach out for it, and although it may take several attempts, should be able to reach and grab it at around six or seven months. This may be a clumsy grab at first using its fist or a ‘raking’ action, but it will develop into a more precise movement with practice according to Family Friendly Fun.
This shows great progress in motor skills, muscle tone, and hand-eye coordination. It will also give the baby a great feeling of accomplishment. If a toy is placed just out of reach, the baby will learn to reach for it and test skills including balance in the process. Keep baby stimulated with interesting colorful toys and objects to increase curiosity.
The next stage of this development could be the ever-popular ‘dropping and throwing’ that babies seem to adore. Prepare for many hours of repeated picking up items from the floor!
5 Moves Toys From One Hand To Another
Around the age of six months, a baby should have developed the skill to be able to move a toy or other object from hand to hand. Babies are motivated by noise and will bang objects together as they explore this new skill.
Although babies develop at different rates, they have learned an enormous amount in the first six months of their lives. The ability to move a toy from one hand to another shows that they have developed muscle skills, fine motor ability and hand-eye coordination.
The variety of toys that a baby has access to will improve development. Different colors, shapes and textures give the baby a chance to explore and work out what objects feel like and what they prefer.
If a baby is showing inability or reluctance to grasp or hold objects or cannot hold objects by the age of six months, it is worth keeping an eye on it and flagging it with a health professional if they don’t show signs of progress. There could be a developmental problem with sight or motor skills, and it is worth accessing help as early as possible, to rule out any issues.
4 Opens And Closes
It may seem like a simple task to adults, but opening and closing their hands is an important phase of a baby’s development. It usually develops around seven to nine months, when babies might be practising waving or grabbing. Some babies repeat this action endlessly as they explore their bodies and the new things they can do.
It can make mealtimes hard work, or fun, depending on your point of view. Babies with this skill will explore the texture of food by grabbing handfuls of it, examining it closely and putting it anywhere but in their mouths, usually on the floor or their face.
Babies love to imitate and learn through the process, so it’s helpful to sit in front of the baby and let baby mimic what you do with your hands. Waving, clapping and high fiving will have the baby giggling with delight, hopefully not because mummy looks like a nutter!
Of course, some repeated behaviors can be a sign of developmental issues says Mumsnet, so while it's important to realize that there is no true normal in a baby’s progress, they are individuals. if any behaviors are repeated to the point that a parent becomes concerned, seek medical advice.
3 Blows Bubbles
It may seem like a game, but blowing bubbles with the mouth is a vital step in baby’s development and helps strengthen muscles used for speech. Babies learn what their mouths do by bubble blowing. It feels good, it’s new and has a great outcome for the baby. Babies will start this skill about six to eight months and blow raspberries for fun as they learn what noises can be made with their mouths and what their mouths feel like.
Raspberry blowing helps muscle development in the jaw and the lips and gives the baby vital muscle tone needed for eating as well as speaking. Encourage baby to make different shapes and noises with their mouths by demonstrating it for them. This will help teach them early lessons about the art of a two-way conversation.
They may start to play with their tongues at this time as well. They may like to feel the texture of the tongue, test what it does and stick it out repeatedly. This is completely normal and a brilliant way of strengthening the tongue for speech and eating.
Babies may be teething at this time as well and produce a lot of saliva which is perfect for fabulous raspberries.
2 Makes Different Sounds
The first sound you will hear from a baby’s mouth will be crying! A lot of it. After this, the next sound may be a gentle ‘cooing’ at around two months old. This might be followed by a lot of gurgling. This first ‘chatter’ is the first step in a baby learning to speak and test what sounds are like.
By around four months the baby will be giggling and laughing and might squeal with delight at something he likes or enjoys. Encouragement and praise will nurture these skills, and of course every parent loves a giggle from their baby and is likely to repeat whatever prompted it as often as possible.
Soon after the giggling, the babbling will start. Repeated consonant sounds like babababa, that make no sense are a baby’s way of practising conversation. It’s helpful to respond to these sounds to teach baby the two-way nature of human communication. Babies respond to a range of intonations and may develop a high pitched babble as they learn this new noise. So, by the age of six months babies have a great repertoire of noises that will eventually become full blown speech.
1 Raise Their Chest During Tummy Time
Although mothers are discouraged from putting babies to sleep on their tummies to avoid risk of suffocation, some tummy time will help them develop important skills. Baby Center says that as babies lie on their tummies, on a play mat for example, they will explore their surroundings by trying to hold their heads up and this is a vital skill for sitting, rolling and crawling.
As the head is such a heavy part of the body, it takes a lot of muscle strength to lift the head. So, the baby will need to develop neck and back muscles before it can raise its head. If a baby has visual stimulation it will be curious to see what is going on and as its sight improves it will be encouraged to raise its head to look around at toys and people.
A baby should be able to raise its head by around forty-five degrees by the age of three to four months. This will allow a baby to move to the next stages of rolling and crawling. A baby might lie on its tummy and raise arms and legs in a skydiving imitation. Again, this is useful practice for muscle development.