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Important Milestones by the End of the First Year

By Dr. Kathleen Kicsak

Infancy is a time of great growth and change. Milestones provide a framework for physicians for observing and monitoring a child over time. Every parent wonders if their child is progressing “normally” and it is important to realize that there is a range to the norm in all aspects of a child’s growth regarding fine and gross motor skill, as well as understanding and expressing language, as well as social and emotional development and problem solving. The focus of this article is to highlight general guidelines of development seen at different ages in the first year of life. Please note that, in general, 50% of children are expected to exhibit this development – that means that the other 50% will accomplish these skills usually within the next few months. This does not mean that your child is delayed as often infants will have the majority of these milestones present at that age but not necessarily all of them and that is OK. Your physician will tell you if your child is outside the normal range of developing this skill and what that means for your child.

1 month: Turns head when on back, sucks well, gazes at face, cries out when upset, starts to voice/sound, keeps hands closed/fisted near face.

2 months: Chest up when on belly, head not steady in sitting position, holds rattle if placed in hand, holds hands together, opens mouth at sight of bottle/breast, smiles back to a voice or a smile, coos. 

3 months: Hands unfisted 50% of the time, rolls to side, gets up on forearms in belly position, looks at hands/fingers, bats at objects, brings hands to mouth, reaches for a face and looks at toys, watches person moving across a room, laughs and coos back when talked to.

4 months: Sits with assistance to back, no head lag when pulled up from lying to sitting, rolls front to back, hands mostly held open/unfisted, grabs at clothes, reaches for objects, briefly holds onto bottle/breast, puts mouth on objects given to them, stares longer at new faces, reaches for and shakes rattle, smiles spontaneously at pleasurable sight or sound, stops crying when hears parent or soothing voice, and moves head in direction of a voice, laughs out loud, talks when alone.

5 months: Rolls back to front, sits with arms supporting chest/torso, transfers objects from hand to mouth to hand and holds hands together, reaches and grasps ring, forms attachment to parent and recognizes him/her, begins to respond to name, squeals and expresses anger with sounds other than crying.

6 months: Sits briefly propped on hands, pivots/circles around on belly position, transfers hand to hand an object, raking grasp for an object, grabs 1 to 2 cubes, feeds self crackers, places hands on bottle, bangs and shakes toys, gets anxious at unfamiliar people, stops briefly to word “no”, holds hands upwards for “up”, repeating babble with consonants, listens and babbles when adult stops talking, smiles and talks to mirror.

7 months: Bounces up and down when held, sits steadily without support, puts arms out to side for balance, refuses excess food, explores different parts of a toy, looks at cube in each hand, finds partially hidden object, looks toward familiar object when named (i.e. blanket, toy), listens to music, increasing variety of syllables. 

8 months: Gets into sitting position on own, army crawls, pulls to sitting/kneeling position, bangs spoon after given demonstration, takes a cube out of a cup, holds own bottle, finger feeds Cheerios, looks for object after it falls to floor, “I?”, says dada and shakes head for no.

9 months: Stands on feet and hands, begins crawling, bear walks, bangs 2 cubes together, bites and chews cookie, looks at and rings a bell, uses sound to get attention, separation anxiety, follows a point, i.e. “oh look at...” says mama and imitates sounds.

10 months: Crawls well, cruises around furniture using 2 hands, stands with 1 hand and walks with 2 hands held, drinks from cup held by child, peekaboo, tries to put cube in cup, experiences fear, waves bye-bye.

11 months: Pivots in sitting position, cruises furniture using 1 hand, stands for a few seconds on own, throws object, stirs with a spoon, looks at pictures in a book, stops activity when told “no”, bounces to music, says first word, vocalizes sounds to songs.

12 months: Stands well with arms high and legs apart, walk on own, fine pincer (thumb to index finger) grasp, holds crayon and will scribble after being shown, attempts to stack tower of 2 cubes, takes off hat, lifts lid to find toy in box, shows objects to parent to share interest and points to get desired object, follows one-step command with gesture, recognizes names of two objects and looks when named, uses several gestures when talking, i.e. waving, reaching.


Topics and Subtopics: Children's Health

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