In the first six months of life, there are impressionable and important milestones likely to be achieved. However, keep in mind that each child is unique, and can develop at his or her own pace.
Developmental milestones begin when after a few weeks of life: your child will start to take notice of your voice, face and touch. Did you know that your baby cannot focus farther than 8 to 12 inches away? This is just the right distance for gazing at each other’s faces! Your child’s wholly developed hearing may cause them to turn in the direction of a familiar sound, such as your voice.
While they may be able to slightly turn and lift their heads when positioned on their stomach, children of this age need support to their heads and necks when held upright.
Some tips for interacting with 1-month-old children include:
- Give your child plenty of attention and eye contact when you talk, sing and read to them
- Learn the signs of when your child signals that they are sleepy or hungry, or have had enough play time
- Play simple games that encourage vocal interaction, such as peekaboo
A 1-month-old may need a doctor’s evaluation if they react to bright lights or loud sounds, feeds slowly or does not suck well, or seems especially stiff or floppy.
By 3-months, babies are an active enjoyer of playtime, smiling and imitating faces and sounds. Their heads no longer need support, and are able to lift their head and chest when they’re on their stomach. These actions are setting the scene for your baby learning to roll over.
You should see improved hand-eye coordination in your child; this includes tracking objects with their eyes, recognizing faces from farther away, shaking toys, and swatting at dangling item such as mobiles.
Some tips for interacting with 3-month-olds include:
- Give them lots of tummy time—this allows your child to strengthen their muscles and practice new skills
- There is no such thing as giving them too much attention! Responding quickly to their needs, reading familiar books together and talking to them throughout the day helps you baby feel secure and loved
Each baby develops at their own pace, but talk to your doctor if your 3-month-old does not smile, grasp objects, support their own head well or cannot focus on moving objects.
Development milestones in 4 to 6-month-olds are highlighted by the fact that your baby is fully engaged with the world now! They can laugh, and have “babbling” conversations with you. By this age, your child should begin to roll to their tummy and back, sit without help and use a raking grasp to pull toys closer to them.
Your child will be more sensitive to your voice—even know their own names, and may heed your warning when you say “no.” Try showing your child him or herself in the mirror for guaranteed entertainment.
Some tips for interacting with 4 to 6-month-olds include:
- Read together every day, and incorporate saying the names of the objects you see in books with your daily routine
- Provide your child opportunities to strengthen their physical skills by playing on their backs and stomachs
- Childproof your home before your little one can crawl to keep exploring safe
- Work toward establishing a routine for sleeping, feeding and playing
- By six months, they may be ready to begin eating solid food
Parents naturally tend to worry whether their baby’s development is on track. It’s important to recognize that every baby is different and grows at their own pace. The biggest reason for concern would be if parents felt their child wasn’t progressing towards new skills, in which case a doctor should be contacted for possible developmental delay testing. Unless there is a cause for serious concern, embrace the growth and progression of your baby’s development. Celebrate their milestones and relish in your baby’s successes, their first toothy smile will make it all worth it.