0 - 12 Weeks

The complete guide to baby development milestones

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Watching our babies grow is one of the best parts of parenting: first smiles, words, and steps are moments many of us remember for the rest of our lives. There are also subtler baby milestones, like when your baby begins reacting to music or uses their tongue to move food around in their mouth. All milestones, big and small, are important to your child’s development ❤️

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What are infant and baby milestones?

Baby sitting up on a rug with a toy

Developmental milestones are skills and behaviors your baby will develop as they grow, and are divided by ages or age ranges. Milestones are typically grouped into the following categories:

  • Motor skills (gross and fine) refer to your child’s physical development. Gross motor skills involve larger muscles in the body, and include sitting up, walking, and kicking. Fine motor skills involve the smaller muscles needed for grasping, squeezing, or cutting with scissors.
  • Cognition refers to your child’s brain development, including the ability to think, reason, learn, and problem-solve.
  • Language & communication include both receptive and expressive language. Receptive language is what your child can hear and understand, and expressive language is what they can say. Much of language development in the early years is pre-verbal.
  • Social emotional development refers to your child’s understanding of emotions—both their own and those of others around them.

Milestones are meant as guides rather than strict barometers of developmental “success.” Developmental windows—periods of time during which your child is primed to learn a new skill—are flexible and variable. They depend on a number of factors, including interest and temperament. Disabilities and developmental delays can also impact when and if a child reaches a particular milestone.

*Note: unless otherwise noted, the skills mentioned in this article are first listed at the beginning of a developmental window; it may be another few weeks or even months before you see the described behavior or skill, and some skills may be skipped altogether. Keep in mind that these are ranges, not averages. For example, babies usually start walking between 9 and 18 months, but the average is 13-15 months.

How are milestones measured?

Milestones include both the broad skills your child acquires, and the smaller incremental steps involved in learning them. For example, the age range for starting to walk is broad—between 9 and 18 months—and there are many smaller skills your child learns along the way. These include pulling up to stand, cruising (walking while holding onto furniture), and falling intentionally into a sitting position.

Overlap between developmental categories is common, especially in young babies. Smiling, for example, is related to both fine motor and social emotional skills. Abilities in the cognitive category, in particular, are intertwined with other areas of development.

Do all babies hit milestones at the same time?

The short answer is no. Every child is unique and will follow their own developmental path. Milestones are useful gauges of a child’s growth, but the ranges provided below are not meant to be exhaustive or definitive. Most babies gain certain skills within a short amount of time, but other skills may take months or even years to acquire. 

Check with your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned about a delay, or are worried that you aren’t seeing progress where you expected it. Early interventions are often simple, and can be the most effective way to support your child’s long-term development.

“I encourage parents to cultivate curiosity instead of worry,” says Pediatric Occupational Therapist Rachel Coley. “Ask yourself how other skills in the same area of development are going. Have they been a little later to emerge than the books say? Did Baby skip some of those skills?”

When is it time to approach a doctor? Coley says, “I encourage parents to discuss all developmental concerns with their pediatrician, but generally I lean toward the proactive approach of early intervention if there is an area of development (or several) with multiple lagging milestones—or if there isn’t progress toward a major milestone by the end of the expected age range.”

What about milestones and premature babies?

Generally speaking, premature babies (born before 37 weeks of gestation) reach milestones according to their due date rather than their birth date. If your child was born 8 weeks early, their developmental path is more likely to match a baby born 8 weeks later; this is known as “adjusted age” or “corrected age.” Use your child’s adjusted age when looking at milestones.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most premature babies have caught up to those born at full term by age 2.

Baby Milestones

The skills below are first listed at the beginning of a developmental window; it may be another few weeks or even months before you see the described behavior or skill, and some skills may be skipped altogether. Keep in mind that these are ranges, not averages.

1-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 1 month old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Glance at a colorful object for a moment
  • Begin to move their arms symmetrically
  • Start to follow a moving person with their eyes
  • Turn their head to the side when on their back 
  • Lift their head briefly during tummy time (between 0 and 2 months)

Learn more about your newborn’s physical development here.

Cognitive

  • Calm down and become quiet when picked up
  • Respond to sounds
  • Begin responding to voices (between 0 and 3 months)
  • Be able to see black and white images from 8-12 inches away

Language & communication

  • Cry for the duration of one breath
  • Cry when hungry or uncomfortable
  • Start making sucking sounds
  • Begin to make “comfort sounds” (small, accidental sounds when they feel good)

Social & emotional

  • Enjoy and need lots of physical contact
  • Look at your face momentarily
  • Smile as a reflex
  • Begin to establish eye contact for brief moments
  • Fuss, scream, and cry when they’re upset

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2-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 2 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Hold their head parallel to their body when lifted horizontally
  • Extend both legs
  • Roll from their side to their back
  • Kick their legs in an alternating way
  • Stare at something or someone for a few seconds
  • Bring their hands to the middle of their body while on their back
  • Lift their head briefly during tummy time (between 0 and 2 months)

Cognitive

  • Visually explore their surroundings 
  • Listen to a voice for 30 seconds (between 1 and 3 months)
  • Begin to show clear excitement when something is about to happen, like feeding or being picked up (between 1 and 4 months)
  • Start to recognize people at a distance
  • Watch the eyes and mouth of someone speaking
  • Begin responding to voices (between 0 and 3 months)

Language & communication

  • Begin to laugh (between 2 and 4 months)
  • Start making sounds when not moving
  • Begin to squeal

Learn more about how to stimulate your baby’s language development here.

Social & emotional

  • Begin to smile intentionally (between 2 and 4 months)
  • Establish eye contact more regularly
  • Mold and relax their body when cuddled
  • Get fussy when an activity doesn’t change
  • Briefly calm themselves by sucking on their hands

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3-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 3 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Begin playing with rattle toys 
  • Hold their chest up while on their tummy with weight on their forearms
  • Rotate and extend their head
  • Keep their hands open half of the time
  • Reach towards a toy without grasping it
  • Begin to roll over from belly to back (between 3 and 5 months)

Learn more about your baby’s physical development at 3 months here.

Cognitive

  • Turn their head to search for a sound with their eyes (between 3 and 7 months)
  • Listen to a voice for 30 seconds (between 1 and 3 months)
  • Begin to show clear excitement when something is about to happen, like feeding or being picked up (between 1 and 4 months)
  • Inspect their hands
  • Start repeating a new activity they just learned

Language & communication

  • Start responding to sound stimulation by making their own noises
  • Cry more rhythmically while opening and closing their mouth
  • Begin to laugh (between 1 and 4 months)

Social & emotional

  • Begin to smile intentionally (between 2 and 4 months)
  • Begin crying less often for unexplained reasons
  • Start telling strangers apart from familiar faces (between 3 and 6 months)

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4-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 4 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Start reaching for objects with both hands
  • Begin playing with rattle toys 
  • Hold objects using a palmar grasp (grasping something without the use of their thumb)
  • Reach for and grasp an object
  • Start rolling from their back to their side
  • Begin to roll over from belly to back (between 3 and 5 months)
  • Bring their hand to their mouth with more ease and regularity

Cognitive

  • Find a partially hidden object
  • Turn their head to search for a sound with their eyes (between 3 and 7 months)
  • Begin to show clear excitement when something is about to happen, like feeding or being picked up (between 1 and 4 months)
  • Begin to understand object permanence (that something hasn’t disappeared if it can’t be seen)
  • Indicate they want to continue an activity by imitating it

Language & communication

  • Babble long strings of repeated sounds, like “ba-ba-ba-ba”
  • Laugh when their head is covered temporarily with a blanket
  • Begin to laugh (between 1 and 4 months)

Social & emotional

  • Start making sounds and smiling as a result of someone speaking to them
  • Start crying when left alone for short periods
  • Start vocalizing their likes and dislikes
  • Cry when playing stops
  • Begin to smile intentionally (between 2 and 4 months)
  • Start smiling at their face in a mirror—they don’t know it’s them yet (between 4 and 8 months)
  • Start telling strangers apart from familiar faces (between 3 and 6 months)
  • Enjoy “frolic play”—being bounced, lifted up high, turned upside down, etc (between 4 and 8 months)

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5-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 5 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Use a radial palmar grasp (a whole-palm grasp that includes the thumb)
  • Examine tiny objects like lint or a single grain
  • Start dropping objects (unintentionally)
  • Start sitting while leaning on their hands
  • Move in stationary circles while on their stomach
  • Begin to roll over from belly to back (between 3 and 5 months)
  • Begin to roll over from back to belly (between 5 and 7 months)

Cognitive

  • Look for an object that touched their body
  • Turn their head to search for a sound with their eyes (between 3 and 7 months)
  • Stop looking at their hand
  • Reach for a second object while they have one in hand
  • Tell the difference between friendly and angry voices
  • Bring their feet to their mouth
  • Have good color vision 

Language & communication

  • Start vocalizing emotions in new ways besides crying and laughing
  • Start babbling longer strings of repeated sounds, like “baba-baba-baba”
  • React to music by cooing
  • Recognize their own name and react to it (between 5 and 7 months)

Social & emotional

  • Start showing stranger anxiety (between 5 and 8 months)
  • Explore your face with their hands
  • Start smiling at their face in a mirror—they don’t know it’s them yet (between 4 and 8 months)
  • Start telling strangers apart from familiar faces (between 3 and 6 months)
  • Enjoy “frolic play”—being bounced, lifted up high, turned upside down, etc (between 4 and 8 months)

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6-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 6 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Balance while on their stomach
  • Start sitting with less or even no support (between 5 and 8 months)
  • Begin to bear almost all their weight on their legs when holding onto something
  • Rotate wrists when playing with a toy
  • Try to grasp a tiny object
  • Pull up to standing, using furniture (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Start crawling forward (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Begin to roll over from back to belly (between 6 and 8 months)
  • Sit up independently from lying down, either on belly or back (between 6 and 10 months)

Learn more about your baby’s physical development at 6 months here.

Cognitive

  • Anticipate the trajectory of an object moving slowly
  • Turn their head to search for a sound with their eyes (between 3 and 7 months)
  • Start to enjoy peek-a-boo
  • Begin to use their sense of smell
  • Play for 2-3 minutes with one toy
  • Look around for family members, close friends, and pets when names are spoken (between 6 and 8 months)

Language & communication

  • Start babbling directly to someone
  • Recognize their own name and react to it (between 5 and 7 months)
  • Call loudly for attention
  • Begin to understand simple sign language (though likely won’t be able to use it for a few months)

Social & emotional

  • Start understanding they are not you and are a separate person
  • Lift their arms to be picked up
  • Begin to show separation anxiety (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Start telling strangers apart from familiar faces (between 3 and 6 months)
  • Start showing stranger anxiety (between 5 and 8 months)
  • Enjoy “frolic play”—being bounced, lifted up high, turned upside down, etc (between 4 and 8 months)
  • Start smiling at their face in a mirror—they don’t know it’s them yet (between 4 and 8 months)

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7-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 7 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Reach for and grasp objects with their elbow extended
  • Start “raking” tiny objects (using their fingers like a rake to bring the object towards them)
  • Grasp objects without the use of their palm (often with their index finger, middle finger, and thumb)
  • Go from sitting a sitting position to lying down
  • Start crawling backwards
  • Begin to roll over from back to belly (between 6 and 8 months)
  • Start sitting with less or even no support (between 5 and 8 months)
  • Start crawling forward (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Pull up to standing, using furniture (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Sit up independently from lying down, either on belly or back (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Start to drink from an open cup

Cognitive

  • Start to follow the trajectory of quickly-moving objects 
  • Turn their head to search for a sound with their eyes (between 3 and 7 months)
  • Look around for family members, close friends, and pets when names are spoken (between 6 and 8 months)
  • Respond to facial expressions
  • Start to find a hidden sound
  • Start to enjoy peek-a-boo

Language & communication

  • Make noises that sound like exclamations
  • Recognize their own name and react to it (between 5 and 7 months)

Social & emotional

  • Start to dislike being on their back
  • Respond playfully to their reflection in a mirror
  • Enjoy “frolic play”—being bounced, lifted up high, turned upside down, etc (between 4 and 8 months)
  • Start showing stranger anxiety (between 5 and 8 months)
  • Begin to show separation anxiety (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Start smiling at their face in a mirror—they don’t know it’s them yet (between 4 and 8 months)

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8-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 8 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Start crawling forward (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Sit without hand support for 10 minutes at a time
  • Make stepping movement when held up by both hands
  • Maintain their balance while on their hands and knees
  • Bang two blocks together
  • Start using the pincer grasp (usually by using the pads of their fingers, not the tips)
  • Start sitting with less or even no support (between 5 and 8 months)
  • Start crawling forward* (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Pull up to standing, using furniture (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Sit up independently from lying down, either on belly or back (between 6 and 10 months)

*Note: in child development terms, “crawling” typically refers to when a baby moves around on their belly with the use of their arms. “Creeping,” which is commonly referred to as crawling, is when babies lift their bellies off the ground to move around on hands and knees. Here, we have not made the distinction, and refer to all forms of locomotion on the ground as “crawling.” Click here to learn more about the granular stages of creeping and crawling from Pediatric Occupational Therapist Rachel Coley.

Cognitive

  • Look at a picture when it’s pointed out
  • Reach for a third object with two in hand
  • Avoid an obstacle to reach something they want
  • Start to enjoy peek-a-boo
  • Look around for family members, close friends, and pets when names are spoken (between 6 and 8 months)

Language & communication

  • Begin speaking in “jargon,” which means they babble by imitating the sounds of real speech
  • Start to babble single sounds on their own, like “ba” (between 8 and 12 months)
  • Start being able to use simple sign language, like “more” and “all done”

Social & emotional

  • Show visible dislike for specific people, objects, and places
  • Start waving or responding to “bye-bye”
  • Enjoy “frolic play”—being bounced, lifted up high, turned upside down, etc (between 4 and 8 months)
  • Start showing stranger anxiety (between 5 and 8 months)
  • Begin to show separation anxiety (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Start smiling at their face in a mirror—they don’t know it’s them yet (between 4 and 8 months)

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9-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 9 months old, your baby may:

The Motor skills

  • Avoid a backwards fall by bracing themselves with their arms
  • Come down from a chair or couch
  • Start crawling forward (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Start to cruise—walk while holding onto furniture (between 9 and 13 months)
  • Begin to walk on their own (between 9 and 18 months)
  • Remove a peg from a pegboard
  • Start extending their wrist
  • Pull up to standing, using furniture (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Start crawling forward (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Sit up independently from lying down, either on belly or back (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Be able to hold a spoon (between 9 and 12 months)

Learn more about your baby’s physical development at 9 months here.

Cognitive

  • Start listening selectively to words they know
  • Start guiding moving toys (like small cars)
  • Begin to throw objects and watch where they go
  • Drop objects intentionally and repeatedly
  • Sometimes listen without being distracted by other noises
  • Start to enjoy peek-a-boo

Language & communication

  • Start showing their understanding of simple phrases, like sticking a foot out when you say “it’s time to put on your shoes” (between 9 and 14 months)
  • Start pointing to things
  • Start to babble single sounds on their own, like “ba” (between 8 and 12 months)

Social & emotional

  • Show more pronounced separation anxiety
  • Start to test parental reactions at bedtime
  • Start engaging in “relational play,” quick instances of pretending to feed themselves or brush their hair
  • Begin to show separation anxiety (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Let only one parent take care of them (between 9 and 12 months)

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10-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 10 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Start to stand momentarily without support
  • Start creeping on their hands and feet without the use of their knees (“bear walking”)
  • Walk with both hands held
  • Start to cruise—walk while holding onto furniture (between 9 and 13 months)
  • Start crawling forward (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Begin to walk on their own (between 9 and 18 months)
  • Take objects out of containers one by one
  • Start to partially unwrap a gift
  • Pull up to standing, using furniture (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Sit up independently from lying down, either on belly or back (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Be able to hold a spoon (between 9 and 12 months)

Cognitive

  • Know what “no” or “no-no” means and react accordingly
  • Begin responding to very simple verbal requests like “come here”
  • Remove round pieces from a puzzle board
  • Have favorite pictures in a book

Language & communication

  • Start saying simple exclamations like “uh-oh!”
  • Be able to listen to a book for slightly longer (but maybe just a minute or two at a time)
  • Start showing their understanding of simple phrases, like sticking a foot out when you say “it’s time to put on your shoes” (between 9 and 14 months)
  • Start to babble single sounds on their own, like “ba” (between 8 and 12 months)

Social & emotional

  • Show their toys to others
  • Enthusiastically explore a play environment
  • Begin to show separation anxiety (between 6 and 10 months)
  • Let only one parent take care of them (between 9 and 12 months)

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11-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 11 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Stand unassisted for a few seconds
  • Walk with one hand held
  • Start to cruise—walk while holding onto furniture (between 9 and 13 months)
  • Put objects into a container one by one
  • Use both hands interchangeably
  • Try to imitate a scribble (without making a mark)
  • Use a true pincer grasp (grasp an object between the tips of their thumb and forefinger)
  • Begin to walk on their own (between 9 and 18 months)
  • Be able to hold a spoon (between 9 and 12 months)

Cognitive

  • Start moving along to a rhythm (not in time)
  • Imitate two gestures at once 
  • Take rings off of a ring stacker toy

The Language & communication

  • Start mimicking animal sounds
  • Understand simple one-word requests
  • Hand you a book when they want to be read to
  • Repeat sounds or actions to get attention
  • Start showing their understanding of simple phrases, like sticking a foot out when you say “it’s time to put on your shoes” (between 9 and 14 months)
  • Start to babble single sounds on their own, like “ba” (between 8 and 12 months)
  • Start saying “dada” and/or “mama” (between 11 and 14 months)

Social & emotional

  • Like to be in constant view of an adult
  • Have favorite things and people
  • Show fear of certain things, people, and situations
  • Let only one parent take care of them (between 9 and 12 months)

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12-Month-Old Baby Milestones

By 12 months old, your baby may:

Motor skills

  • Fall into a sitting position
  • Start to cruise—walk while holding onto furniture (between 9 and 13 months)
  • Stand up from a lying-down position
  • Place a block on top of another without releasing it
  • Start making marks with a crayon
  • Begin to walk on their own (between 9 and 18 months)
  • Begin to walk backwards (between 12 and 21 months)
  • Be able to hold a spoon (between 9 and 12 months)

Cognitive

  • Start to recognize people outside their immediate circle
  • Make detours to go get something they want
  • Follow where you point with their eyes

Language & communication

  • Experience a plateau in speech development as they learn to walk
  • Repeat a sound or gesture if someone laughs at it
  • Start to show frustration when not understood
  • Use single-word sentences like “go!”
  • Start saying “hi” and “bye”
  • Start showing their understanding of simple phrases, like sticking a foot out when you say “it’s time to put on your shoes” (between 9 and 14 months)
  • Start to babble single sounds on their own, like “ba” (between 8 and 12 months)
  • Start saying “dada” and/or “mama” (between 11 and 14 months)

Social & emotional

  • Offer their toys to a known adult
  • Display more independent behavior and react less to “no”
  • Act impulsively and ignore rules
  • Let only one parent take care of them (between 9 and 12 months)
  • Start to have a comfort object like a doll or blanket

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Posted in: 0 - 12 Weeks, 3 - 4 Months, 5 - 6 Months, 7 - 8 Months, 9 - 10 Months, 11 - 12 Months, 0 - 12 Months, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Language, Social Emotional, Cognitive Development, Child Development

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