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Baby Milestones: Growth & Development

baby crawling with toy in mouth and mom behind her

Your baby’s growth and development in the first couple years of life is an amazing journey to witness. From first smiles to first words to first steps and more — there’s a host of physical, social and sensory changes your child is experiencing and mastering. Find out more about what you can expect from your growing baby — and when.

“Because (children) develops at (their) own particular pace, it’s impossible to tell exactly when yours will perfect a given skill,” advises the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). So it can often be difficult to predict specific growth and development milestones. Your pediatrician is your best resource for determining whether your baby is on track in growth and development. If you have concerns, talk to your child's doctor.

There are, however, some baseline physical, social and sensory milestones your little one will reach from birth to age 2. The AAP outlines these as a general.


Birth-3 months

Your baby will most likely:

  • Be able to raise her head and chest when on her stomach.
  • Stretch and kick when on her back.
  • Open and close her hands.
  • Be able to grasp and shake objects and bring them to her mouth.
  • Begin to smile.
  • Enjoy being around and playing with other people.
  • Be expressive and communicative with her face and body.
  • Imitate some movements and expressions.
  • Follow moving objects with her gaze.
  • Recognize familiar objects and people, even at a distance.
  • Begin using eye-hand coordination.

4-7 months

Milestones at this stage include:

  • Being able to roll right and left.
  • Sitting up, with and without the support of her hands.
  • Supporting her weight on her legs.
  • Reaching out with just one hand.
  • Transferring object from one hand to another.
  • Using a raking grasp.
  • Enjoying play.
  • Showing an interest in mirror images.
  • Responding to expressions of emotions and appearing happy often.
  • Finding partly hidden objects.
  • Exploring surroundings with hands and mouth.
  • Showing interest in and struggling to grasp out-of-reach objects.

8 months-1 year

Your little one is most likely mobile now and at this stage should be able to:

  • Get herself into a sitting position without your help.
  • Crawl forward on her belly.
  • Assume hands-and-knees position and rock back and forth.
  • Go from sitting down to crawling.
  • Pull herself up to stand.
  • Walk around holding onto furniture.
  • Show preference for specific people and toys.
  • Finger-feed herself.
  • Explore objects in different ways.
  • Find hidden objects easily.
  • Look at correct picture when image is named.
  • Imitate your gestures.
  • Begin using objects like spoons and cups correctly.

Note: Some babies at this stage might be shy around strangers, experience separation anxiety and cry when you leave the room.

What to watch for:

Babies all develop in their own ways and on their own schedules. If you believe that your child is not reaching certain milestones, be sure to speak with your doctor.

Some things to look by the end of baby’s first year include:

  1. Is your child able to crawl?
  2. Does she drag one side of her body when crawling?
  3. Does she have trouble standing when you support her?
  4. Does she speak any single words yet like “mama” or “papa”?
  5. Does she use gestures and point at objects or pictures?


1-2 years

Your little one may now be walking (and running!) around your home, exploring the environment. Physical growth and development continue to blossom, and now your child is testing and learning more and more every day.

  • Physical, social and sensory development at this stage includes:
  • Walking unaided and possibly enjoy pulling a toy behind while in motion.
  • Running.
  • Standing on tiptoes.
  • Kicking a ball and other objects.
  • Awareness of self as being separate from you and others.
  • Enjoying being around other children and playing — sometimes in “parallel”, rather than together with another child.
  • Sorting objects by shape and color.
  • Enjoying make-believe.
  • Using simple language in short phrases.

What to watch for:

Again, all children develop at their own pace. Be sure to speak with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your little one not hitting certain milestones.

Some things that could indicate signs of developmental delay in your toddler include:

  • Your baby can’t walk by 18 months, or push a wheeled toy by age 2.
  • Your toddler walks exclusively on her toes after being able to walk for several months.
  • If your child doesn’t have a roughly 15-word vocabulary by 18 months and can’t use 2-word sentences by age 2.
  • Doesn’t grasp the intended function of common household objects such as a brush, cellphone or spoon by 15 months.
  • Does not imitate actions or words or follow simple instructions by age 2.

Look out, mom and dad! Your toddler will be a preschooler in no time. Your little one’s physical growth and motor development will start to slow down a bit in the coming years, but she’ll continue to undergo amazing changes to her mind and body.

image: ThinkStock

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