Developmental Milestones In A Baby’s First Year – Ultimate Guide

Having a baby is an amazing time filled with lots of firsts. From that very first cry to those first steps, every milestone is so special. But knowing what developmental milestones in a baby’s first year to expect can help you savor all of those precious moments!

When our twin girls had their first “cry” in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), it was an unforgettable moment! They were born 3 months premature. Our one daughter, Lua, was on a breathing machine in the early days so she couldn’t make any sounds or cry. The day she came off that machine and her very first “cry” meant her lungs were developing and growing. We were so grateful to hear that sound!

Your precious moments are right around the corner if you haven’t experienced them yet. With that said, here are some developmental milestones in a baby’s first year to keep an eye out for.

First, What Are Developmental Milestones?

Developmental Milestones are skills or behaviors that most children will start or master by a certain age. Babies reach milestones in various ways by:

  • Learning
  • Moving
  • Playing
  • Talking

Each milestone occurs at a different rate for every child, but most children will reach the majority of milestones within a typical time frame.

Tracking developmental milestones helps to ensure your child is on track developmentally and can also help you spot any delays in your child’s development.

Keeping an eye on developmental milestones helps you get an idea of when your child might be ready to achieve certain tasks or skills. So here are the developmental milestones in a baby’s first year to be on the lookout for.

It is important to remember that developmental milestones are a guide only, and should not be used as a way to compare one child’s development with another. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please speak to your pediatrician or healthcare provider.


Developmental Milestones In A Baby’s First Year

Cognitive, Communication, and Play Skills

These skills are important for a baby to show during their first year. Cognitive skills help a baby express what they see and hear, communication skills help them express their needs and wants and play skills help a baby explore their environment while learning about cause and effect.

In a nutshell, all of these skills help your little one interact and learn about the world around them. Here are the signs to look for.

0 to 6 Months

  • Babbles
  • Gets quiet when you pick them up
  • Looks at you when their name is called
  • Looks for where sounds are coming from
  • Responds to familiar voices
  • Smiles when you talk to them (around 2 months)
  • Smile when you play peek-a-boo (around 2 months)
  • Recognizes their own hands (around 3 months)
  • Recognizes familiar faces (around 3 months)
  • Visually tracks with their eyes and follow objects or toys

6 to 12 Months

  • Copies easy movements
  • Laughs while playing
  • Looks at pictures in a book
  • Makes vowels and consonant sounds like da-da, ma-ma
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Puts toys in their mouth
  • Responds to their name
  • Shakes or bangs toys
  • Starts to understand cause and effect, like seeing a light or pushing a button
  • Uses eyes and hands to see how toys work

Motor Skills

As your baby grows so will their movements. Here are the signs to look out for when it comes to motor skills.

0 to 6 Months

  • During tummy time, lift their head for a short period of time (0 to 3 months)
  • Turns their head to the side (0 to 3 months)
  • Brings their hands together to their mouth (3 months)
  • Shakes their rattle (3 months)
  • Swipes or grasps toys (3 months)
  • Kicks legs often while on their back (3 months)
  • Sits with support and tries to stay upright (3 months)
  • Puts weight on their legs when you help them stand (3 months)
  • During tummy time, puts weight on their elbows and look around (3 to 4 months)
  • Reaches and grabs objects (4 months)
  • Rolls back and forth from tummy to back (4 to 6 months)
  • Uses hands to grab their feet on their back (5 to 6 months)

6 to 12 Months

  • Crawls on their belly
  • Crawls on their hands and knees
  • Grabs things like small toys and bangs them together
  • Moves toys back and forth with their hands
  • Pokes and points at things
  • Pulls themselves up on furniture to stand
  • Puts objects in and out of containers
  • Sits alone and plays with toys
  • Stands without support
  • Starts to feed themselves
  • Walks when you hold their hand

Now that you have a good idea of what developmental milestones in a baby’s first year to look for, you may be wondering, “How can I help my baby reach or hit these milestones?”

Let’s dive into that next.

At-Home Activities and Exercises To Help Your Baby’s Development

To help your sweet pea reach important milestones during the first year, try these simple activities or exercises.

0 to 6 Months

  • Bring their feet up to their hands while on their back
  • Do daily tummy time for up to 20 minutes or less
  • Encourage body movements using toys, rattles, or lights
  • Have fun with them by talking, singing, or playing peek-a-boo
  • Have them look at your face as you move to track with their eyes
  • Play with them on their back and help them roll from back to tummy and tummy to back
  • Place a toy in their hand so they can grasp it
  • Play on the floor and place toys around to encourage reaching, grasping, or swiping
  • Shake toys to have them reach for it
  • Use contrast flashcards to have them track with their eyes

6 to 12 Months

  • Blow bubbles and help them poke it
  • Read books to them daily
  • Offer toys that move, light up, or make noise
  • Talk to them during activities, playtime, or when they make sounds
  • Talk to them using simple words
  • Place toys on a table or chair to help them stand to reach for it
  • Play peek-a-book and sing songs
  • Play on the floor to help them sit and crawl
  • Have them use both hands while playing with toys
  • Help them clap their hands
  • Help them figure out how a toy works
  • Hold their hands so they can walk to you

10 Red Flags In A Baby’s Development

Again, It’s important to remember the developmental milestones in a baby’s first year are different for every little one and each develops at their own pace. However, there are some general “red flags” to look for that may indicate a delay in development.

1. Can not hold up their head.

Unable to hold up their head while being picked up, lying down on their back, or stomach.

Usually, around 2 to 4 months old, most babies should be able to lift their heads unsupported.

2. Unable to roll over.

Unable to roll over independently front to back.

Usually, around 4 months old, babies are able to roll over unassisted.

3. Hand control issues.

Has difficulty with hand control like bringing their hands together to their mouth or reaching out with one hand while their other hand remains in a closed fist.

Usually, around 4 months old, babies are able to clasp their hands together or bring their hands up to their mouths.

4. Feel floppy, heavy, or limp.

When held, they feel ‘floppy, heavy, or limp’ due to poor muscle tone in the limbs like the arms and legs.

5. Tense legs.

When held, the legs become tense or cross-like scissors. The leg movement may look or feel stiff or rigid.

6. Feeding issues.

For instance, you may notice things like:

  • Difficulty closing their lips
  • Chewing with an open mouth
  • Poor tongue control or tongue thrusts
  • Exaggerated bite reflex

These are common signs of swallowing problems (also known as Dysphagia) or feeding difficulties.

7. Muscle spasms or tremors.

Due to tight and stiff muscles, you may see movements that are uncontrolled, spasms, or jerky movements. You may also notice tremors such as shaky hands.

8. Sitting issues.

Unable to sit up without assistance.

Usually, by 9 months old, babies are able to sit up independently.

9. Standing issues.

Unable to stand up, rock back and forth, or bounce on their legs.

Usually, by 9 months old, babies are able to stand up independently, bounce, or rock back and forth.

10. Walking issues.

Unable to walk without assistance or support.

Usually, by 1 year to 18 months, babies are able to walk unassisted.

Again, keep in mind each child develops at their own pace.  Not all signs are visible at birth and may become more noticeable as your child grows and develops.

If You’re Concerned

If you believe your infant is not meeting developmental milestones as we just mentioned, it’s best to follow up with your pediatrician or healthcare provider to share your concerns. Your pediatrician may then refer you to a specialist who will be able to perform an in-depth assessment of your child to make a diagnosis.

You may also contact your state’s Public Early Childhood system to request a free evaluation to determine if your child qualifies for intervention services, sometimes referred to as a ‘Child Find’ evaluation).  This may be an option to move forward quickly if you can’t wait on a doctor’s referral or diagnosis.

To Wrap It Up

This is just a short list of some of the amazing milestones your baby may hit in their first year! witnessing these “firsts” is such a privilege. Be sure to savor every moment and enjoy watching your little one grow and develop right before your eyes.

Until the next post, I’m sending you all the positive parenting vibes!

With Gratitude,


Do you have anything to add or share about the developmental milestones in a baby’s first? Let me know in the comments below. Your input means a lot and helps others who read this post!


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About The Author

Linds is the proud mom of two little miracles, Mono Mono twin girls, and one AMAZING older brother! She is the founder and content creator of Mono Mono Twins, Intensive Therapy for Kids, and Co-Founder of The LENN Foundation, a 510c3 that helps children across the United States with cerebral palsy receive grants for intensive therapies to thrive.


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The contents of the Mono Mono Twins Site, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Mono Mono Twins Site (“Content”), are for informational purposes only. The Content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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