What To Look For as Your Baby Grows

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baby growth

Every parent is concerned about his child’s proper growth and development, especially since developmental disorders are a rising concern. We naturally think of height and weight, but from birth to 5 years, your child will reach milestones in how he plays, learns, speaks and acts, like taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye bye.” Do you know the “official” milestones that help measure your child’s growth?

This list was prepared by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

By the end of the following month, most children are able to do the following:

2 Months
Social and Emotional

  • Begins to smile at people
  • Can briefly calm himself (may bring hands to mouth and suck on hand)
  • Tries to look at parent

Language/Communication

  • Coos, makes gurgling sounds  
  • Turns head toward sounds 

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Pays attention to faces
  • Begins to follow things with eyes and recognize people at a distance
  • Begins to act bored (cries, fussy) if activity doesn’t change

Movement/Physical Development

  • Can hold head up and begins to push up when lying on tummy
  • Makes smoother movements with arms and legs

4 Months
Social and Emotional

  • Smiles spontaneously, especially at people
  • Likes to play with people and might cry when playing stops
  • Copies some movements and facial expressions, like smiling or frowning

Language/Communication

  • Begins to babble 
  • Babbles with expression and copies sounds he hears 
  • Cries in different ways to show hunger, pain, or being tired

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Lets you know if she is happy or sad
  • Responds to affection
  • Reaches for toy with one hand
  • Uses hands and eyes together, such as seeing a toy and reaching for it
  • Follows moving things with eyes from side to side
  • Watches faces closely
  • Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance

Movement/Physical Development

  • Holds head steady, unsupported
  • Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface
  • May be able to roll over from tummy to back
  • Can hold a toy and shake it and swing at dangling toys
  • Brings hands to mouth
  • When lying on stomach, pushes up to elbows
baby growth

©Photo Lenka U

6 Months
Social and Emotional

  • Knows familiar faces and begins to know if someone is a stranger
  • Likes to play with others, especially parents
  • Responds to other people’s emotions and often seems happy
  • Likes to look at self in a mirror

Language/Communication

  • Responds to sounds by making sounds 
  • Strings vowels together when babbling (“ah,” “eh,” “oh”) and likes taking turns with parent while making sounds 
  • Responds to own name
  • Makes sounds to show joy and displeasure
  • Begins to say consonant sounds (jabbering with “m,” “b”)

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Looks around at things nearby
  • Brings things to mouth
  • Shows curiosity about things and tries to get things that are out of reach
  • Begins to pass things from one hand to the other

Movement/Physical Development

  • Rolls over in both directions (front to back, back to front)
  • Begins to sit without support
  • When standing, supports weight on legs and might bounce
  • Rocks back and forth, sometimes crawling backward before moving forward

9 Months
Social and Emotional

  • May be afraid of strangers
  • May be clingy with familiar adults
  • Has favorite toys

Language/Communication

  • Understands “no”
  •  Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa”
  • Copies sounds and gestures of others
  • Uses fingers to point at things

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Watches the path of something as it falls
  • Looks  for things he sees you hide
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Puts things in her mouth
  • Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other
  • Picks up things like cereal o’s between thumb and index finger

Movement/Physical Development

  • Stands, holding on
  • Can get into sitting position
  • Sits without support
  • Pulls to stand
  • Crawls

12 Months
Social and Emotional

  • Is shy or nervous with strangers
  • Cries when mom or dad leaves
  • Has favorite things and people
  • Shows fear in some situations
  • Hands you a book when he wants to hear a story
  • Repeats sounds or actions to get attention
  • Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing
  • Plays games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”

Language/Communication

  • Responds to simple spoken requests
  • Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”
  • Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech)
  • Says “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”
  • Tries to say words you say

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing
  • Finds hidden things easily
  • Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named
  • Copies gestures  
  • Starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, brushes hair 
  • Bangs two things together
  • Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container
  • Lets things go without help
  • Pokes with index (pointer) finger
  • Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy”

Movement/Physical Development

  • Gets to a sitting position without help
  • Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”)
  • May take a few steps without holding on
  • May stand alone

More details up to 5 years of child’s age at: CDC

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