Your baby grows and develops so much over the first 12 months. From their first smile and first sounds, to those magical first wobbly steps across the room. It’s certainly a busy first year. And it’s incredible to watch.
Find out what baby milestones to look out for with this developmental checklist. From your baby’s first month to their first birthday.
All babies develop at their own rate
As parents we can get really anxious about our babies reaching all their milestones on time or even early. However it’s worth remembering that all babies are different.
The milestones in the developmental checklist below are intended as guidelines. Each baby will reach them in their own time. They’re not a neat certainty.
Take the landmark milestone of walking as an example.
Lots of babies will take their first steps at around 12 months. But there will be some keen beanies who find their feet months before this. And others who are happy to crawl and cruise until nearer their second birthday.
Because of this wide variation between milestones, the most important thing to notice is that your baby is progressing. Which may or may not be at the same rate as the other babies you know.
Carrie Brown, MD, a pediatrician at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas reassures parents that:
Children develop along a spectrum, and not all children do things at the same time or according to any baby milestone chart that parents may have. The biggest reason for concern is if you feel your child isn’t moving forward and making progress toward new skills. Then you should talk to your doctor and see if they share your concerns. Carrie Brown, MD
Baby development is not always linear
Lists of baby milestones can give the impression that all babies develop in a neat progression, ticking off each skill as they go. But it’s not always that predictable.
Sometimes when your baby is busy mastering one skill they can regress in another developmental area.
So they might learn lots of new words at one stage. But the amount of brainwork this takes might mean they have less to give to practising how to cruise and walk.
Jennifer Shu, pediatrician and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn says:
If your baby reaches one milestone sooner, she may reach another one later, because she’s so busy perfecting the other skill. Jennifer Shu
Bearing all this in mind, here’s what to expect for each of the 12 months of your baby’s first year.
Developmental Checklist for Baby Month by Month
1 month baby milestones
Your newborn baby is learning so much about their brand new world.
They’re making sense of all the sights and sounds, tastes and textures that they are experiencing for the first time.
By the end of the first month your baby may:
- Turn towards familiar faces and voices (like yours)
- Move their head from side to side, while lying on their tummy
- Bring their hands and fist towards their mouth (although not always with very much accuracy)
- Start to coo and make sounds other than a simple cry
2 month baby milestones
At 2 months old your baby is beginning to respond more to the world around them. And especially to the most important people in it – you!
It’s by this age that you might be rewarded by your baby’s first smile.
And you might also be having your first ‘conversations’, as your baby copies your facial expressions and coos and gurgles at you.
By the end of the second month your baby may:
- Start to smile at people
- Coo and gurgle
- Copy your facial expressions
- Stretch and kick more vigorously
- Raise both knees in at the same time while lying on their back when they see something exciting
- Track toys and noises with their eyes.
- Begin to lift their head while lying on their tummy (it will still be a bit wobbly at this stage)
- Begin to straighten legs slightly during Tummy Time and start to press their hands down to push their shoulder up very slightly
- Move their arms or legs when they hear familiar household noises such as footsteps or running bath water
- Briefly calm themselves (e.g. by bringing her hands to their mouth to self soothe)
- Begin to get fussy and act bored if the activity doesn’t change
3 month baby milestones
By the time they’re 3 months old your baby is beginning to work out that they don’t have to lie and wait to hear and see objects appear in front of their eyes.
Now they can move their heads (and even their hands) to follow them.
Playtime suddenly becomes much more fun now that your baby can join in a little more. So much so – that your baby might even protest when it comes to an end.
By the end of the third month your baby may:
- Open and close their hands
- Swipe at dangling objects with their hand
- Put their hand in their mouth with greater precision
- Push up on their arms when they are lying on their tummy
- Hold their head up more steadily and kick their legs when they lie on their tummy
- Occasionally lifts shoulders and very top of chest off surface during tummy time by pressing weight into forearms
- Track an object that moves from side to side
- Recognise familiar objects from a distance
- Smile when they hear your voice
- Start to babble with ‘ooh’ and ‘aahs’
- Turn their head when they hear a sound or voice
- Make eye contact
- Have different cries for different needs (hunger, tiredness etc)
- Enjoy playing with other people (and may cry when the playing stops)
4 month baby milestones
By 4 months old your baby is beginning to develop their muscles much more. This is the time they might find out that they can roll from side to side and put their hands out to grab a toy.
All this new found discovery is so exciting and your baby will respond with lots of giggles, squeals and a whole lot of gleeful babbling.
By the end of the fourth month your baby may:
- Track objects with their eyes much more fluidly
- Be able to hold and shake a rattle or toy
- Reach for a toy with one hand
- Hold their head up unsupported
- Push up on their elbows when lying on their tummy
- Start to roll from their tummy to their back (or try to)
- Push down on their legs when you hold them in a standing position (not supporting themselves but just pushing down)
- Smile spontaneously at people
- Start to giggle and laugh
- Copy some facial expressions like smiling and frowning
- Babble with expression and copy simple sounds they hear
5 month old baby milestones
In the fifth month your baby is likely to make an exciting new discovery – their feet!
They’ll love to grab them with their hands (and even put them in their mouths).
The new found mastery of their body continues. They can now pass toys from one hand to another.
Your baby loves to look at themselves in the mirror too.
With all these amazing new discoveries you might find your baby is able to happily entertain themselves for a short while. Then they’ll still revel in playtime with you too.
By the end of the fifth month your baby may:
- Grab their feet and maybe even put them in their mouth
- Try to roll from their tummy to back and then onto their tummy again
- Be more active in Tummy Time
- Begin to press through to straighten their arms and lift their chest up when lying on their tummy
- Move objects from one hand to another
- Explore toys by putting them in their mouth
- Love looking at themselves in the mirror
- Babble a lot
- Entertain themself for short periods of time
6 month old baby milestones
By the time they reach their half birthday your baby has lots more control over their surroundings and the excitement of new discoveries keep on coming.
It’s at this age that they might be able to sit up and have a whole new view of the world. They begin to react to their name and try to join in the conversation with lots more sounds.
They might even begin to say the sound ‘Mmmmm’. Although it’s a while yet before they will manage ‘Mama’.
By the end of the sixth month your baby may:
- Begin to grasp objects
- Try to grab objects out of reach
- Start to grab finger foods with their fists
- Shake and bang objects in their hand
- Pass objects from one hand to the other
- Sit up briefly (without any support)
- Use their hands to support themselves when sitting
- Responds to sounds by making sounds back
- Say vowel sounds ‘ooo’, ‘aaa’ and ‘eee’ as well as consonant sounds like ‘mmm’, ‘ddd’ or ‘bbb’
- Uses babbling to get attention
- Enjoy playtime and cry when it stops
- Recognise their name
- Express emotion more clearly – crying or whining when they are sad or angry or squealing when they are delighted
- Start to understand simple words
- Knows familiar faces and if someone is a stranger
- Responds to other people’s emotions
- Roll over from back to front and back again
- Rock back and forth
- Perhaps begin to creep along the floor while on their tummy
- Accept support on their legs when you hold them in standing position
- Might try to bounce when you hold them in standing position
7 month baby milestones
Now that your baby has a whole new view of the world by sitting up rather than lying down, things become a lot more fun.
They discover that they can play some super fun games. Like peekaboo. Or that entertaining game of dropping things on the floor for Mum or Dad to pick up!
There’s still so much to explore and their favourite way is to put everything in their mouths and chew it.
It’s at this age your baby begins to respond to the word ‘No’. We wonder why?!
By the end of the seventh month your baby may:
- Be able to sit up without support for longer periods of time
- During tummy time, begin to push backwards on their belly using their arms
- Lying on their tummy it can become more comfortable for them
- Often place their palms on the floor during tummy time (getting ready to push themselves up)
- Put objects in their mouths to explore them
- Respond to the word ‘no’
- Recognise your emotions by the tone of your voice
- Respond to emotions – smile at a happy face, look uncertain at an angry one
- Use their hands to ‘rake’ things up
- Rake up food and bring it to their mouth
- Begin to practice picking things up with their finger and thumb (the pincer grip)
- String more consonants together when babbling
- Enjoy dropping things on the floor and watching them ‘appear again’ when you pick them up!
- Enjoy simple games like Peekaboo
- Be able to find partially hidden objects
8 month old milestones
By the end of this month your baby has found all sorts of new ways to practice moving. They might even have found out they can stand up on their own two feet…as long as they’re holding onto something.
They’re still keen to chatter on to you with their babbling, which is getting better all the time.
You might even hear ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ in between all the other sounds. But don’t get too excited as apparently before 12 months this word may not exclusively refer to you. At this age it could just be a new word they’ve learnt and are trying out.
By the end of the eighth month your baby may:
- Rock backwards and forwards on their hands and knees
- Scoot or slither along the floor
- Pull themselves up to standing – or start trying to – while holding onto furniture
- Bounce up and down when on their feet
- Continue to babble – putting vowels and consonants together (listen out for some ‘mamama’s and ‘dadada’s)
- Start to use the pincer grip much more confidently (picking up objects between the thumb and index finger)
- Be much more confident picking up smaller pieces of food and finger food batons and bringing them to their mouth with precision
- Become anxious when separated from you
- Be wary of strangers
9 month baby milestones
Having mastered sitting and rolling, your baby is keen to start moving around the world even more. It’s around this age that they might begin to crawl.
It’s an exciting new skill that changes their world (and yours!).
Suddenly they no longer have to wait for you to give them a toy. They can scoot off and try and grab it themselves.
They’ll start to tell you what they want by pointing. And when they’ve got their hands on their chosen treasure they’ll explore it by banging it, shaking it, throwing it and dropping it on the floor.
By the end of the ninth month your baby may:
- Start crawling
- Start bum shuffling across the floor
- Be much more confident about pulling themselves up to standing while holding onto a surface
- Point to things they want
- Use the pincer grip more skilfully
- Watch the path of something they’ve dropped
- Investigate the shape, size and texture of toys and surroundings
- Experiment with the amount of force needed to pick up different objects
- Look for an object you’ve hidden
- Have a favourite toy
- Be able to turn several pages of a chunky board book at once
- Copy the sounds and gestures of others
- Make lots of different sounds, joining vowels and consonants together – like ‘mamama’, ‘dadada’ and ‘bababa’
- Shake their head for ‘No’
- Recognise commonly used words
- Look at familiar objects and people when named
- Follow some routine commands when paired with gestures
- Be wary of strangers and cling to familiar people
10 month baby milestones
The fun continues as your baby explores their new world on their hands and knees and even on their feet as they cruise from sofa to chair on growingly steady feet.
The objects they find along the way are banged together or poked, as your baby finds out more and more about them.
It’s also the time when your baby might start waving ‘bye bye’ – which is almost too adorable to handle.
By the end of the tenth month your baby may:
- Crawl more confidently
- Pull themselves up to standing
- Start ‘cruising’ – walking while holding onto the furniture
- Bang objects together to see what sound they make
- Poke objects to explore them further
- Be able to put objects in a container and take them out again (over and over again!)
- Be much more skilful with their pincer grip and be able to pick up of smaller bits of finger food to feed themselves
- Wave ‘bye bye’
11 month baby milestones
All that early babbling is really coming together now. Your baby just loves to chat to you (and everyone else – including the cat).
Although you might hear a few more ‘mamas’ and ‘dadas’ and some little words like ‘uh oh’, most of the sounds your baby makes are not actual words.
The difference is that they now begin to use the right inflection to mimic conversation. And so it begins to sound like you’re having an actual chat.
By the end of the eleventh month your baby may:
- Continue to explore the sound they can make.
- Babble with changes of tone, which sound more like speech
- Copy your behaviours like pushing buttons on a toy phone and mimicking a conversation
- Understand simple commands like ‘don’t touch’
- Understand object permanence (knowing that an object still exists, even if it’s hidden)
- Be able to crawl up the stairs (with supervision)
- Still have or develop separation anxiety
12 month baby milestones
Can you believe it’s time to celebrate your baby’s first birthday? What a year of discovery it’s been.
By the end of the first year your baby might say ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ and actually use it to refer to you. They might say one or two more words too.
Their little brains have been developing so much that they can now follow simple instructions and will have mastered all sorts of new skills like eating with a spoon or drinking from a cup.
One thing’s for sure – they’ve come on in leaps and bounds since those early days as a brand new baby.
By the end of the twelfth month your baby may:
- Be able to cruise
- Be able to stand up briefly unsupported
- Might take their first steps
- Move in and out of various positions to explore the room and get the toys they want
- Look at the right person when you name them (e.g. ‘Where’s Grandad?’)
- Look at the correct picture in a book when you name it (e.g. by asking ‘Where’s the dog?’)
- Hand you a book when they want to hear a story
- Look to where you point
- Use some objects correctly – like eating with a spoon, drinking from a cup and using a soft hairbrush (though still a little clumsily just now)
- Put a leg or arm out when you are dressing them, to help you
- Clap their hands
- Say ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ (to refer to you – not only as words with different meanings)
- Say one or two simple words like ‘Hi’, ‘Bye’ or ‘No’
- Carry out simple commands or requests (like ‘Please pick up the toy’)
- Have favourite things and favourite people
- Still be shy around or nervous of strangers
- Cry when Mummy or Daddy leave
- Be a bit nervous of new situations
Did you know that by the time your baby is 12 months old their brain has doubled in size?
They’ve certainly used their first year to pack in a lot of learning along the way.
The tiny helpless newborn that you brought home from the hospital is now on the cusp of walking and talking. They might even have a few words and have taken their first steps.
It’s hard to believe how much they have changed and how far they have come.
You might take a moment to pause and look back fondly on your baby’s first year. And then, brace yourself – toddlerhood is just around the corner!
Do you have any questions about your baby or toddler’s development?
Always see a doctor if you have concerns. In the meantime if you want to chat to everyday moms get in touch in our community forum:
Ask for advice, share tips or stories of the funny things your little toddler starts doing.
- ‘Monthly Baby Milestone Chart’, the Bump
- ‘Baby’s First Year: How Infants Develop’, WebMD
- ‘Get Ready for All These Precious First-Year Milestones’ – Healthline
- ‘Learn the Signs, Act Early’, CDC
- ‘Milestones’, Pathways.org
- ‘Your baby in the first two months’, NHS Inform
- ‘When do babies talk?’, Today’s Parent
- ‘Brain Development’, First Things First