After the arrival of a new baby, moms get into survival mode. Simply running off adrenaline for the first three months before they start to resemble their former selves. Parenting is HARD! There is little joy in the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the spitting up and the constant worry about whether everything is being done right – ANY of it.
It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when mom is faced with an infant who seems to sleep 19 hours a day, and they have no idea where the time is going each day. We've all been there!
At the beginning, the infant will lay there, and cry. It's a blur of diaper changes, and middle of the night feedings, and it might seem that the baby will never be self sufficient.
But the light is there. The days WILL pass and soon mom will start to see the incredible changes in her new baby. She may even feel a bit of nostalgia about how far her baby has come from when they were an infant, but mom also lives for the amazing baby and childhood milestones her baby will hit, month by month and year after year.
If a baby hasn't hit the milestones at the months they generally should, keep in mind that all babies and children are different and will reach the milestones at different times. It can be hard watching other babies hit milestones before another baby, but try not to compare little ones against others. As always, if moms have any questions regarding their baby's development, it's always best to talk with the doctor first.
From infant to toddler, to preschooler, to school age – here are some of the most amazing milestones to look out for, and when mom can expect to see them.
29 Holding Up Their Head
At around 1 month old, a baby should be able to lift and hold up their head. This is important because it builds the muscle strength in their neck.
Tummy time at this stage is so crucial for their neck, arm and chest muscles, so power through the crying fits an infant might have because they dislike being placed on their stomach.
Start off with a few minutes at the beginning and work up from there. Eventually, they will get used to it. At around 1 month old, moms should be letting their baby have tummy time each day, ideally for around 20 minutes.
Before this milestone, most parents are extremely cautious about how to hold their baby and might constantly worry that they'll hurt their baby’s neck. This is an amazing milestone as it leads to the next physical milestones, like rolling, and sitting up - these milestones will be set in motion because of the stronger muscles the baby has been building up.
28 Starts Laughing
Most babies start laughing at around 3 months, but it can happen as early as in the first month.
What is funny to an infant can be anything, from a word that someone says to them repeatedly, to a funny person, pet or toy.
The sound of a laughing infant is one of the most precious sounds coming from your baby – a welcome relief from the tired cry, hungry cry, and dirty diaper cry that might seem to consume your days.
This is an amazing milestone because it allows parents to start seeing more of their babies personality, and realize that their baby is starting to develop a sense of humor.
To encourage your little one to laugh, make sure they are well rested, fed and have a clean diaper. Essentially, they need to be in a good mood! Talk often to your baby, and make silly faces or move in silly ways. Try singing to your baby or try tickling your baby. There are many things that can make your baby laugh at this stage, so take pleasure in finding out what makes your baby giggle.
27 Rolling Over On Their Own
Most babies can roll over when they are around 5 months old, but it can happen as early as 3 months. All that tummy time in the early months was building up to this new trick. It's more important than ever (not that it wasn't important before the 3 month mark) to make sure you are not leaving your baby somewhere, where they can fall or injure themselves.
All those plank poses and mini push-ups help build your babies muscles to assist them with rolling over. Going from back to front might take a bit longer as it requires more muscle strength. To encourage your baby to roll, use toys or an activity mat to entice them. Soon enough, your baby will be rolling around your house!
At this point, babies still need to be put to sleep on their backs, but in the middle of the night, they may start to roll as well. That’s OK – no need to worry. Make sure that you are keeping their crib free of toys and bumper pads though.
26 Grasps For Objects
Babies grasping for objects usually happens at around the 4 month mark, but can happen as early as 2 months.
This is an exciting milestone because babies are becoming more and more aware of their surroundings all the time and when they begin to grasp for objects, it's the start of them becoming more interactive with their surroundings, rather than just observing.
This is also an amazing milestone as it is the start of your baby developing the all important hand-eye coordination needed to feed themselves, and later be able to draw pictures, write ABC's, and tie shoes.
Before this milestone, your baby would mostly have clenched fists and little control over their fingers. To encourage your baby to grasp for objects, use an activity mat that has hanging toys that rattle, crinkle, or are brightly colored. Grasping objects leads to the ability to use that hand-eye coordination necessary to perfect their pincer grasp and dexterity.
25 Can Sit Up On Their Own
This is an exciting milestone as your baby is able to sit and play with items, rather than just laying around. Sitting up usually happens around 5 months, but can be as early as 4 months.
Sitting up doesn’t mean your baby can go from laying into a sitting position, but rather that your baby can maintain a sitting position for a few minutes when you put them down to sit. Your baby will likely be able to get into a sitting position by themselves, from laying down, when they are around 7 or 8 months old.
When your baby is able to maintain a sitting position, it likely won't be for too long at the beginning. It may only be for a minute or two, then they will move too far and fall. Don't leave your baby unattended when they first learn to sit, as you'll want to be close by in case a fall occurs.
At each new physical milestone your baby achieves (sitting, crawling, standing and walking), they will also need to learn how to fall from that position, so keep close at all the stages of their physical development until they are more comfortable with their own progress.
24 Cuts Their First Tooth
Most babies get their first tooth around 5 or 6 months, but it can happen at any time. Some babies are even born with teeth, while others may cut their first tooth at around a year or more. By the time your child is 3 years old, they will have gotten all 20 of their baby teeth.
Between 5 to 7 years, your child will again start to teethe, getting their “six year molars”. Some children might have pain and teething symptoms with these molars, while other children will get them without complaint.
When your baby gets their first tooth, the next one will likely not be far behind and that adorable gummy smile will be a thing of the past!
Excessive drooling, irratibility or general fussiness and biting on everything they can get into their mouths are a couple of teething symptoms. You can help ease the discomfort your baby is feeling by offering cold foods, specific teething toys that help to massage gums, or even try frozen baby washcloths tied in a knot. If your baby seems really uncomfortable, talk to your doctor about offering acetaminophen to ease the pain.
23 Eating Solid Food
Usually pediatricians like to advise parents to start solids at around 6 months, but some pediatricians recommend that parents may start their babies out a bit sooner – around the 4 month mark.
Babies who have teeth and show signs of readiness might start on solids sooner than the 6 month recommendation. If you’re thinking of starting your baby, check in with your baby’s doctor or pediatrician on how to start the transition to solids, and what foods to avoid.
When your baby is ready to be introduced to solids, it's generally advised to start them on a single grain cereal, like rice cereal. You may want to start them on puréed food though, and a good place to start, if you opt for this route, is with apples, pears, sweet potatoes, bananas or squash. Use a soft tipped spoon and don't put too much on the spoon at a time. Also don't force your baby to eat, if they just aren't interested.
22 Recognizes Their Name
Some babies are able to recognize their name between 5 and 7 months. If your baby doesn't seem to be responding to their name by 9 months, you may want to speak to your baby's doctor or pediatrician.
This is an amazing milestone as it signals your baby beginning to understand the connection between themself and their name. To encourage your baby to respond when you say their name, use their name often when you are speaking to them. This will be the best way to teach your child to recognize their name.
It's a nice feeling when your baby starts responding and looking around for you when they hear their name. Don't get too used to it though - there will come a day, when they are in school, that they will no longer respond so readily to the sound of their name being called. Enjoy it while it lasts!
21 Begins Crawling
Some babies start crawling around 6 or 7 months. It can happen sooner, at around 5 months, later at around 10 months, or it might not happen at all. Some babies skip the crawling and go straight to walking.
Crawling can mean any number of movements, from traditional crawling, to the commando or army crawl, to bum scooting or shuffling. What matters is that your baby is getting around now.
To encourage your baby to become mobile, ensure you are giving them enough tummy time (though at this point, they may just roll back or sit up), and use incentives to help them move along, like a toy placed just out of arms reach.
Once your baby starts crawling, you can start thinking about ways to baby proof your home. Here’s a list of some things you may want to think about when your little one has reached this stage.
20 Begins Using A Sippy Cup
Some babies are exposed early to sippy cups at around the same time they might start solid foods (around 6 months), though most of the water, breast milk or formula will end up on the ground.
Most babies are capable of using sippy cups at around 10 months of age, and by 12 months, most of the liquid will end up where it is supposed to go.
The American Dental Association recommends transitioning from a bottle to a sippy cup by your child's first birthday, to prevent tooth decay.
There are many different kinds of sippy, or training cups on the market, and most of them make recommendations on the appropriate ages they are for, so try out a couple until you find one that suits your baby's preference. You may get lucky, and your baby will like to use the first one you buy, or you may end up with a cupboard full of options!
19 Sleeping Through The Night
This is a tough one. There is no right answer to when your baby will sleep through the night. Most babies should be able to sleep through the night by 6 months. But just because they are ABLE to, doesn’t mean they will. Some babies might need a bit of help – or training.
Some parents might start sleep training early – around 4 to 6 months. Some parents might wait to sleep train until their baby is no longer actively feeding at night and seems to wake up out of habit, rather than necessity – around 9 to 12 months. Some parents might hold out hope that their baby won’t need sleep training and just keep going with whatever works in their household.
If you are frustrated with your baby’s sleep, you might want to seek help from a sleep consultant who might give you some tips on how to successfully get your child to sleep through the night. Whatever you choose to do, just remember that you know your child best and do what works for you, in order to preserve your own precious sanity.
18 Pull Themselves Up To A Standing Position
Babies can usually pull themselves up on something into a standing position at around 9 months. They may be able to do this at around 7 months or later at 10 or 11 months.
This is a huge milestone in your baby’s life as this simple step signals your baby’s impending first steps.
Your baby will likely start to pull up to a standing position in the crib, grasping onto the bars for support and pulling up from there.
Next, they may move onto the stairs. If your stairs are exposed, you may want to consider putting gates up, otherwise ensure you are always with your baby while they are learning how to pull themselves up.
From there, furniture is the next place your baby will attempt to pull themselves up. Make sure that the furniture you have around is sturdy enough to support your child's weight. If you have a particularly tall piece of furniture, such as a dresser, or night table, ensure they are fixed to the wall to avoid them toppling over and causing serious harm to your baby.
17 Uses Thumb And Forefinger To Pick Up Objects
Usually babies are around 9 months when they begin to use the pincer grasp to pick up objects, though it might happen as early as 7 months or as late at 10 or 11 months.
Although this might not seem like a huge milestone, it’s a pretty important one that your baby will achieve for precision in their hand-eye coordination. It's the next step in the ability to draw, write, button up clothes - basically anything that involves using the thumb and forefinger.
To encourage this skill in your baby, you may want to practice at mealtime with your child using small pieces of your child's favorite food, such as fruit, Cheerios, vegetables, or other small snacks. Try using your own fingers to teach your child, how to do it and see if they try and mimic you.
You can also encourage your baby to achieve this skill using toys that have buttons, dials and switches on them, building blocks and soft books with things to touch and poke and grab.
16 Says “Mama” And “Dada” To The Correct Parent
Usually babies will be able to correctly identify “Mama” and “Dada” at around 10 months, but some babies might be able to do this around 8 or 9 months.
Language is such a personal thing that some babies might not say “Mama” or “Dada” until past the 12 or 15 month mark, but as with anything else, if you’re concerned that your baby isn’t saying either, you should consult your baby’s pediatrician.
This is an exciting milestone as it signals that your baby understands the concept that you have a unique identity just like they have an identity.
To encourage this new understanding and language skills, always make sure you are talking to your baby. Let them see your face and lips when you are speaking to them. Point at objects when you are speaking about them - point at an item, person, animal, or body part when you say the word.
15 Walks Alone Without Help
By 12 months, most babies will have taken their first few steps. Some babies might even be able to walk quite well by 12 months. The ability to walk can happen anywhere from 9 months to 18 months though, depending on the baby.
All babies hit this milestone at different times, so don’t worry if your baby is later than his or her peers on this. Besides, it gives you more of a chance to relax before the real busy time begins!
This is an amazing milestone as it signals your baby's growing independence. They are now able to go where they want to, and explore the world around them, from new heights!
You can encourage your baby to walk by getting down to their height and holding out your arms for support. Your baby will gain the confidence to take that first, then second step, and soon enough, your baby will be off and running, in no time.
14 Says Their First Word
At around 12 months, your baby might have said their first word that wasn’t “Mama” or “Dada”. Most babies can say a couple of one syllable words by 14 months old.
Their vocabulary will grow fast and by 18 months, they may even be able to string a couple of words together. Your child might not say much, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t understand what you are saying to them.
At around 12 to 15 months your baby will start understanding and responding to simple instructions that you give them, such as “where is the toy”, or “come over here”, and “give that to Momma”.
By the age of 2 years, your child may be able to string two to four word sentences together, as well as be able to sing simple songs.
Continuously talking, listening and reading to your baby is the key to encourage language skills.
13 Uses A Spoon And Fork
By 15 months, babies should be introduced (if they haven’t been previously introduced to it before now) to using a spoon and fork. It might take some time to master this skill, but by 18 months, they should have the hang of successfully getting the some food into their mouth, and should be using utensils consistently at each mealtime that requires it.
This is where that dexterity becomes really important and your child's self care begins. Feeding oneself with a spoon and fork is a big milestone because it allows your baby the freedom and control to take care of themselves - or at least try to! It helps your child's social and personal development as well. It also allows you to eat your dinner alongside your baby, rather than feeding your baby first, then trying to fit in your own mealtime somewhere between playtime, bath time or bed time.
Though most of your baby's food may end up pushed off the plate or scattered around the floor, at the beginning, it'll take time to have your child eating properly with these new tools.
By the age of 4 years, your child will probably use their utensils correctly, and be ready to learn good table manners.
12 Speaking In Simple Sentences
By 2 years, toddlers should be able to speak in simple sentences, stringing two to four word sentences together. Some toddlers might be able to do this at around 18 months or earlier, but speech is a very intricate thing, and some children may take a bit longer to form words.
By 3 years of age, your preschooler will be a regular conversationalist! They should be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings, and should also be able to follow multi-step instructions from you (like "pick up this toy and put it back in the toy box").
The best way to encourage your child's language development at this stage is to talk to your child often. Narrate for them. Also, equally important is listening to your child. A child will be more apt to speak if they feel what they have to say is interesting and important - so listen attentively and ask questions to encourage their dialogue.
If you’re at all worried that your little one isn’t talking enough, you might want to speak to your baby’s pediatrician.
11 Starts Potty Training
Most toddlers begin to show signs of toilet training readiness between 1 & ½ to 3 years. Generally, girls are ready to begin toilet training before boys, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, toddlers can be toilet trained earlier than 18 months, and sometimes it can take a bit longer.
There are certain physiological changes that need to happen in order to have a successful time toilet training your toddler, so until your child indicates that they are ready, save yourself the frustration and don’t force them. When your child is fully ready for toilet training, it generally is easier than trying when they just aren’t there yet.
Potty training has nothing to do with their IQ or how smart your child is, but has to do with a child's emotional and physical readiness. If your child has indicated they no longer want to wear diapers, that is a pretty good indicator that they are ready to be a big kid and lose the diapers!
If you feel that your child is ready to ditch the diapers, you might want to consider a kids potty with a removable bowl to start the transition to a diaper-less future. This is very accessible for little kids. Put it in the bathroom, close to where they would eventually use the big toilet. You might even want to consider one for each of the bathrooms in your house.
10 Moves Out Of The Crib Into A Big Bed
This milestone can happen anywhere from 1 & ½ to 3 years, but again, that’s not a rule. It should be decided on a case by case basis, and you need to see your child’s readiness about moving into a new bed, as it will take some getting used to, for your toddler.
Parents might consider moving their toddler into a big kid bed, because their child has begun climbing out of their crib. They may also consider moving a child from the crib because of the impending arrival of a new baby in the house. Some parents feel that when their child is toilet training, it’s a good time to move into a big bed so that the child is able to get to the potty if they need to go.
Many toddlers might be ready for a big bed earlier. Whatever the age, expect some night time wandering at the beginning.
9 Getting Dressed on Their Own
Toddlers may start showing that they are capable of dressing themselves around 2 to 3 years. You may even have a particularly headstrong toddler who insists of choosing their clothes as well. This particular milestone uses so many different skills, so if your child is a late bloomer, don't be too concerned.
This is an amazing milestone because of all the different skills it uses, like gross motor skills, as your child needs to move and lift their arms and legs in a specific way to get shirts and pants on. It also uses fine motor skills, as your child will need to do buttons and zippers up, as well as cognitive skills as it requires your child to be able to understand what order to put clothes on.
Before being able to dress themself, your child should be able to undress themself at around the age of 18 months.
If you live in a cold climate, you may want to separate your toddlers choices into summer and winter clothes, and hide the summer clothes when the weather doesn't permit for t-shirts and shorts! At times, you might stare in wonder at the ensembles your toddler will put together. Choose your battles wisely!
8 Jumping On Their Own
Toddlers might start trying to jump at around the age of 2 years. It might not be a true jump at this stage, looking more like a bounce where one or both of their feet don’t leave the ground – though they may think that they have and look up proudly at you when they do it. Your toddler should be able to fully jump by the age of 3 years.
To encourage this milestone, you can hold your child's hands and jump off low things, like curbs or other structures that are around the height of a curb. Some parks have a wood divider to keep sand in the play area, that would be good for balancing, and jumping off, at this age. You may also want to crouch down low, count down from 5, and "blast off" like a rocket, putting your hands up, and jumping. Encourage your toddler to mimic your actions, and pretty soon you'll have a regular old jumping bean on your hands!
7 Can Do Somersaults Unassisted
This skill is totally dependent on how coordinated your child is. Some toddlers at around 1 & ½ years are able to successfully somersault, while most children might get the hang of it around 3 years old.
This is an amazing milestone for your child, as they will feel like a big kid being able to do big kid things. This requires a lot of balance and the use of their gross motor skills. When your child starts trying to do somersaults, ensure that they are doing them properly and are not at risk for a neck injury, tucking their chin in properly.
Once your child begins to somersault, expect that they will want to do it continuously for a few weeks, until they move on to their next new gross motor skill.
If your child really loves somersaulting, climbing and balancing, you may want to hone these skills with gymnastics classes. Most communities will have a gym that has gymnastics programs for toddlers and preschoolers.
6 Uses Imagination Or Plays Make Believe
Imaginative play signals your child’s ability to play on their own in a totally creative way. It generally happens at around the age of 1 & ½ to 2 years and starts out relatively basic. They might use a banana and pretend to talk into it, like a phone.
As they get older, their imagination will grow and they will begin to use it in a more comprehensive way and by 4 years, they are using their imagination fully, having elaborate tea parties with their stuffed animals or playing Knights and Dragons.
This is an amazing milestone because it teaches your child communication and social skills. It fosters their physical and intellectual development as it lets helps them understand the world around them. It grows your child's natural curiosity and helps them problem solve in innovative ways. Enjoy the scenarios and situations your child comes up with.
While they still have you as their playmate, you have the important job of encouraging them to use their imagination by playing into their make believe world with them - 2 lumps of sugar please, and make sure you tickle that polka dot dragon before he carries you to his cave!
5 Know Their ABC’s And 123’s
Between the ages of 3 and 4 years, some children might get a handle on their letters and numbers and might even be able to name some or all of them. Some children focus more on playing than on learning, and this skill might come a bit later, when they begin kindergarten, between the ages of 4 and 5 years.
Whatever the age you start trying to teach your little one, make sure it’s fun for your child, otherwise you run the risk of stressing out your little one from your own expectations. If they get it right away, fantastic! If it takes a little while for your child to understand the concept and recognize their ABC’s and 123’s, that's OK too. Keep in mind that as with every other milestone, children reach them at their own time and there is no right or wrong time for your preschooler to get it.
4 Pumping Their Legs On A Swing
At around the age of 3 or 4 years old, you can start expecting that your park visits will become easier, because when your child tells you that they want to go on the swing, they might just be able to pump their own legs. Sunny days ahead indeed!
Having said that, your child might still need help getting onto the swing, and getting started when they first begin to use their own legs to pump the swing. To encourage them on doing this alone, you might want to sit on the swing next to them and show them how to lean out and lean in, while pumping your legs, so your child can mimic your actions.
Before expecting your child to pump their legs on their own, ensure that your child is comfortable on the bigger kids swing. Make sure that they hold on tightly and stay focused on what they are doing. When they get comfortable enough at it, they're ready to do it on their own.
3 Learning To Ride A Bike
Some children are able to get on a peddle bike and ride it without training wheels around the age of 4 years, while some children may take until they are 6 or 7 years. Balance bikes might make the transition to riding a two wheel bike easier, possibly even reducing the chances of training wheels on the bike.
As with everything else, this isn't a rule and is dependent on a lot of factors, so if your child is 6 and still not riding a bike, don’t worry about it. The main thing is to keep practicing and when weather, time and occasion permits, let your child ride their bike whenever you can. It's good exercise and a staple in most childhood experiences.
Regardless of what age your child is ready to ride a bike by themselves, always ensure you are equipping them with the proper safety gear. Children should ALWAYS ride a bike with a helmet on.
2 Losing Their First Tooth
Children generally lose their first tooth between the ages of 5 and 6 years. It might happen a bit sooner or later, but you can bet your child’s school pictures in either Kindergarten, Grade 1 or Grade 2 will be a nice toothless smile!
This is an important milestone for your child as it signals to them they are no longer a little kid, but rather getting to be a big kid - with adult teeth even! Loose and wiggly teeth will consume your child's thoughts when their teeth are ready to come out, though they may feel scared and afraid about the actual tooth falling out. That fear is perfectly normal for all kids.
Before your child loses their first tooth, you might want to double check the going rate for the tooth fairy. Any discrepancies between your child’s tooth fairy visits and their friends tooth fairy visits can be chalked up to the varying levels of oral hygiene. The tooth fairy loves a nice clean tooth and might pay less for teeth that haven’t been well cared for. This argument can also compel your child to do a better job brushing their teeth every day.
1 Bathing On Their Own
This can be a tricky one, dependent on your parenting style, family or your child's maturity level, as some children might start displaying the want for privacy earlier than others.
Although there is no concrete age in which a child should be able to bathe on their own, the general consensus seems to be after 6 years, and even then, stay close to the bathroom so that you can keep an eye on your child, as drownings occur in minutes and accidents can happen in seconds.
To reduce any accidents, you may want to consider a bathtub mat to prevent kids from slipping.
This is an amazing milestone as your child is becoming more and more self reliant, and you can now start thinking about taking back your nights!
Soon enough your child will be fully able to handle their own bedtime routine and put themselves to bed, and you'll be wondering where the last 7 or 8 or 9 years have gone - yearning for that infant that needed you for everything.