The early days of parenthood are best described as a blurry, red eyed, yawn filled and coffee fuelled fog. This new parent mist slowly lifts as time passes and you begin to embrace the “new normal” and roll with the punches of your expanding and ever changing family. As the days and months go by you eagerly await “what’s next” and how your little bambino is going to develop into this fabulous little person.
When you come into contact with an experienced “veteran” parent you may find yourself asking them for insight into when your child is going to meet their next milestone, but here’s the thing, parents forget when little Jimmy took his first steps because a) that was four years ago (which might as well be a hundred years ago if you ask the bags under my eyes) b) all kids are different and c) I forget, sorry.
I know that I used my own personal baby book (which my own mother had carefully curated). Just the same, it would be nice to be able to provide new parents (or second, third or fourth time parents who have just forgotten) some accurate guidelines for those important milestones their little bundle of joy is about embark upon.
But seriously, take note of when your child gets their first tooth, or takes their first steps because your own kids will thank you when the first grandchild arrives!
15 When Babies Recognize Parents
Many researchers believe that your newborn child may already recognize their mother’s voice. Visual recognition takes a little while longer, as newborn babies can only really see about eight to twelve inches in front of them. The jury is still out on when a child can recognize their parents with some believing it can happen within days after birth, with others saying it can take about two months.
14 First “Real” Smile
Babies are born with a reflex smile that begins when they are still in utero. These reflex smiles are not intentional and can be compared to jerky arm or leg movements your infant experiences while they're “testing the equipment” of its ever-changing and growing body.
Many parents call these “gas” smiles. The real, genuine smile will first make an appearance on your child’s face somewhere between six weeks and three months.
13 Baby Babble
Babbling is how babies prepare themselves to eventually begin talking. After birth your baby may make vowel-like sounds, and by around two or three months these noises will become coos and goos. True babbling usually starts at around four months and often contains sounds using the letters “p”, “b” and “m” sounds which can be made putting the lips together.
To help baby build their “conversation” skills have conversations with them, and pause after you speak to give your baby a chance to “respond”.
12 Sleep Through the Night
There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as torture, that’s because it’s slow, terrible, and takes a toll on us in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. The brilliant thing about newborns is that they need 16-18 hours of sleep each day, the problem is that this sleep isn’t continuous and is often interrupted by a child’s “need to feed.” This gets more frequent in the middle of a growth spurt.
Tired parents, there is an end to frequent middle of the night feedings. Some infants sleep through the night (around seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleepy bliss) from around four to six months of age, whereas others reach this highly welcome change between six months to one year.
If your baby has had their first birthday and still consistently wakes during the night it’s probably a good idea to connect with your healthcare practitioner to make sure there isn’t anything completely preventable interrupting the entire family’s sleep cycle.
11 Recognize Their Own Name
While babies can begin to recognize voices from the womb, they don’t recognize their own name until after a few months “on the outside.” By four months baby may be able to distinguish their own name from other words, but not as their name, only as an important word they’ll need to remember, like hello or goodbye.
Suddenly, at around six months little Suzie will realize that this name is referring to herself.
10 Lose Tongue and Thrust Reflex
A baby’s tongue thrust is a natural instinct that happens when someone touches their lips. The child’s tongue will come out with the purpose of helping them suck from a breast or bottle. Usually at around four to six months, around the time that many parents begin introducing solid foods (AKA purees and baby food) the child loses their tongue thrust and is better able to take and adapt to eating real food.
9 Introducing Solid Foods
Just like many parenting decisions, this is one that is often up for debate. Generally most people begin feeding their baby solid foods between four to six months of age, when it’s believed that their digestive system is ready for it.
Signs that indicate baby is ready include: being able to sit up well (without support), loss of tongue thrust instinct, and baby is becoming increasingly interested in the food that you and others are eating around them. Not sure you’ll know if they’re craving what you’re eating, don’t worry, you’ll know when your child is longingly drooling at you while you’re noshing on a bagel.
8 First Tooth
Heredity is a huge factor as to when your child will begin getting their first teeth. For the best possible point of reference, find out when the parents cut their first teeth for a general timeline. Most infants get their first tooth somewhere around six months, but a first tooth can emerge as early as three months or as late as fourteen months.
7 Roll Over
Baby will need to have some time to develop their arm and neck muscles before they can roll from front to back and back again. While baby may be able to kick themselves from their tummy to their back at around four months, it will usually be at five or six months before they can routinely flip from front to back.
Kids crawl in all sorts of different ways, some do the bum shuffle, others slither like a snake on their stomach, and some never crawl at all and move on to walking right away. My son did what we affectionately named the “Zombie Crawl” where he’d slap down his arms really hard on the floor and pull himself forward, and repeat, grunting like Frankenstein.
Most babies crawl sometime between six to ten months of age. Parents of multiples as well as those parents of preterm babies note that babies born early might take a little longer to reach these sorts of milestones (particularly in the first two years). My kids were about eight or nine months, near the end of the six to ten month spectrum for crawling.
5 Standing Up
10 months is generally the magic time when your precious pea will learn how to bend their knees for standing. Somewhere between 10 to 12 months baby may be able to pull themselves up to stand from a sitting position and sit back down. Take a deep breath, this means they’re getting ready to walk.
4 First Steps
Now that baby has probably mastered crawling and standing, they’ll slowly get ready to begin walking, and running. Welcome to the beginning of life with a toddler!
Most babies take their very first steps at around nine to 12 months and begin walking at around 14 or 15 months. Is your child older than this and still not walking? Don’t worry it’s still perfectly normal for a baby not to begin walking until 16 to 18 months as well. Get your iphone poised, because that first steps video could happen at any moment.
3 Long Naps
In the beginning your infant will take many, many naps during the day, but as they get older they’ll move to one longer nap. This is a welcome change as it gives caregivers a solid block of free time.
Children will usually move from one morning and one afternoon nap to one longer nap around the time of their first birthday. Usually this begins with the child pushing their morning nap later and later, and the two naps eventually blend into one. The other good news here is that this also usually means that your infant is becoming a toddler and will also likely sleep sounder overnight.
2 First Words
At 10 to 12 months baby’s babbling will begin to turn into real words. This is very exciting as your baby will soon be able to better communicate with you. Very common first words are “hi” or “bye” or refer to an important person or animal in their lives. By 18 months your baby may have 10-15 words, and by age two they should have 25 to 100 words!
1 First Shots
During the first five years of your child’s life you will have the opportunity to give them shots and vaccines to prevent seven childhood diseases including Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Pneumococcal Disease. Many of these shots begin at age one, talk to your health care practitioner to determine the right course of action and schedule for your family.