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Child Development Timeline

The first year of life is full of wonder and growth. Take a look at development milestones in this article.
The first year of life is full of wonder and growth. Take a look at development milestones in this article.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

The following guideline describes the various physical, cognitive, emotional, and social developmental changes and milestones to be expected during the first year of life.

It is of utmost importance to remember that the timeline is approximate, not absolute. Each child develops at his or her own pace, and some stages may occur earlier or later.

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Birth to 1 Month Developmental Milestones

There is significant growth during the first month of life. At this time, reflexive movements dominate, and infants have little, if any purposeful physical activity.

Growth

  • Weight decreases by 10% immediately after birth and returns to birth weight by 2 weeks of age
  • Gains 1 oz/day; 2 lbs/month
  • Length increases 3.5 cm/ month

Movement and Activity

  • Head droops without support
  • Limbs flexed
  • Purposeless movement
  • Grasps objects placed in hands
  • Sucks objects placed in mouth
  • Sleeps about 16 hours/day

Sensory

  • Nearsighted; can see objects clearly 8-12 inches from face
  • Fixated gaze; cannot follow objects (like a doll's eyes)

Social

  • Hearing is preferential to the female voice
  • Easily startled

Babies one or two months old frequently have their hands in fists.
Babies one or two months old frequently have their hands in fists.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Growth

  • 20g/day (1.5 lbs/month) weight gain
  • 2 cm/month length increase

Movement and Activity

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  • More deliberate movements
  • Limbs more extended
  • Can lift head temporarily when lying on stomach
  • Some delay in raising head when pulled to a sitting position from lying on back
  • Hands tightly fisted most of the time

Sensory

  • Follows moving object with eyes

Social

  • Smiles involuntarily
  • Responds to sounds

Communication

  • Throaty noises, gurgles

At three months, most babies can lift up their head when lying on their stomach.
At three months, most babies can lift up their head when lying on their stomach.
Zoonar/Thinkstock

2 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • Growth rate is still significant, but not as rapid as in the first 2 months
  • Posterior fontanelle ("soft spot") closes

Movement and Activity

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  • Lifts head (45°) for a sustained time when lying on stomach
  • Continued lag on raising head when pulled to sitting position from lying on back
  • Hands fisted half of the time
  • Will follow objects, consciously turn head 180°

Social

  • Smiles voluntarily ("social smile") in response to appropriate stimuli (familiar faces or voices)
  • Recognizes facial expressions

Communication

  • Cries approximately 3 hours/day
  • Coos, makes single-syllable sounds

3 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • Gains 1¼ lbs/month
  • Length inc. 2 cm/month

Movement and Activity

  • Minimal delay on raising head when pulled to sitting position from lying on back (bobbing)
  • Will reach for objects but misses while lying on back; waves at objects
  • Lifts head and chest when lying on stomach; rests on arms
  • Rolls side-to-side
  • Hands mostly unfisted
  • Small circular limb movements
  • Sleeping approximately 14 hours/day, with 9-10 occurring at night

Sensory

  • Explores own body

Cognitive

  • Will look at area where an object used to be (no sense of object permanency)

Social/Emotional

  • Increased eye contact
  • Listens to music
  • Appropriate facial expressions in response to emotions (anger, fear, joy)
  • Mimics others' facial expressions
  • Increased awareness/interest in surroundings
  • Distracted during nursing
  • Shows different emotions (anger, fear, joy)

Communication

  • Varied types of crying
  • Says "ahh"

At this stage, babies begin holding objects and teething begins.
At this stage, babies begin holding objects and teething begins.
©iStockphoto.com/Jacqueline Hunkele

4 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • Gains 1 lb/month

Movement and Activity

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  • No head lag when pulled to sitting position from lying on back
  • Reaches and grasps objects, brings to them to mouth while lying on back
  • Holds objects indefinitely
  • Stands when held
  • Plays with hands and feet

Social/Emotional

  • Shows displeasure at withdrawal of social contact
  • Excited at the sight of food

Communication

  • Remains silent while others speak, then vocalizes

5 MONTHS OLD

Movement and Activity

  • Transfers object from hand to mouth to opposite hand
  • Begins to teethe

Social/Emotional

  • Plays with mirror image

Communication

  • Imitates speaker
  • Sing-song quality to voice
  • Makes raspberry sound

Baby teeth arrive during this developmental stage and your baby can now feed himself or herself.
Baby teeth arrive during this developmental stage and your baby can now feed himself or herself.
BananaStock/BananaStock/Thinkstock

6 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • 1 lb/month
  • 1.5 cm/month
  • Lower central incisors erupt

Movement and Activity

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  • Drinks from a cup with help
  • Holds own bottle
  • Moves objects hand-to-hand directly
  • Rolls over
  • Sits briefly, leans forward, supports self with arms

Social/Emotional

  • Discriminates between parents and strangers ("stranger anxiety")
  • Copies facial expressions

Communication

  • Babbles

7 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • Upper central incisors erupt
  • Lower lateral incisors erupt

Movement and Activity

  • Sits unsupported, pivots while sitting
  • Pivots and crawls while lying on stomach
  • Lifts head indefinitely while lying on back
  • May stand, bounce
  • Reaches out, grasps object with palm
  • Bangs, shakes objects
  • Puts feet in mouth

Social/Emotional

  • Prefers mother
  • Anxious when away from mother (Separation Anxiety)
  • Pats mirror image

Communication

  • Responds to changes in social contact/context

8 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • Upper lateral incisors erupt

Movement and Activity

  • Crawls easily on stomach
  • Pulls self to stand using furniture
  • Feeds self with hands
  • Will take 2 objects and hold 1 in each hand

Sensory

  • Vision close to fully-developed

Cognitive

  • Begins to understand objects' uses (drink from a cup, brush hair with a brush)
  • Realizes size differences between objects

Social/Emotional

  • Performs "tricks"
  • No longer automatically accepts feedings, will turn spoon away

Communication

  • Multisyllabic babbling

Humans pick up on language beginning in the fetal stage and usually say their first word around age 10 months.
Humans pick up on language beginning in the fetal stage and usually say their first word around age 10 months.
Duangkamon Khattiya/Getty Images

9 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • Gains 12g/day, 13oz/month
  • Length inc. 1.2 cm/month

Movement and Activity

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  • Grasps object between thumb and forefinger ("pincer grasp")

Cognitive

  • Will search for an object when it is taken away, understands that it exists even though it can no longer be seen ("object constancy")

Communication

  • Single syllable "words" ("ma", "da")
  • Understands "no"
  • Inflection with babbling

10 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • First molars erupt

Movement and Activity

  • Sits up alone and indefinitely
  • Crawls on hands and knees
  • Crawls up stairs
  • Walks while holding on to furniture (cruising)
  • Walks with two hands held

Cognitive

  • Understands simple phrases
  • Follows simple directions
  • Associates "mama" with mother and "dada" with father
  • Can find objects by name when asked

Social/Emotional

  • Waves
  • Plays "peek-a-boo"
  • Tests autonomy (crawls away from mother and checks for her reaction)

Communication

  • First "real" words ("mama", "baba")
  • Conversational babbling

At 12 months old, your baby has tripled weight and can identify himself or herself in the mirror.
At 12 months old, your baby has tripled weight and can identify himself or herself in the mirror.
BananaStock/Thinkstock

11 MONTHS OLD

Movement and Activity

  • Stands alone and unsupported
  • Walks with one hand held
  • Drink from cup without help

Social/Emotional

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  • Plays alongside others, but not with others (parallel play)

Communication

  • Uses words meaningfully

12 MONTHS OLD

Growth

  • Weight has tripled since birth
  • Length has doubled since birth

Movement and Activity

  • First steps
  • Feeds self with a spoon
  • Transfer object from self to other with pincer
  • Attempts to stack two blocks
  • Helps with dressing by adjusting posture

Social/Emotional

  • Identifies self in mirror
  • Attempts simple conversations

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