Babies tend to grow at an incredibly accelerated rate during their first year of life. This includes their motor skills coupled with their height and weight, which means that your baby will go through a significant growth stages; this is known as “development milestones”.
Babies start very early developing skills that are typical of adult humans, such as learning to connect with others and understanding and regulating one’s own feelings.
In fact, it is not just the people that they learn to connect with, but it is also the things around them that they start becoming aware of, for example, when they eat something sweet, they will gravitate towards that sweet tasting item the next time they see or smell it as well.
Development milestones are tangible and identifiable attributes of the baby such as rolling over, crawling, walking, etc. There is no specific age at which the baby will go through these milestones; however, certain milestones are known to typically occur within a specific age range.
The occurrence of these infant milestones help parents monitor their baby’s growth cycles. There are actually four different types of milestones that your child should achieve over a course of time:
This takes into consideration the large-motor skills and the fine motor skills. The first motor skills to develop are the large-motor skills, such as sitting-up, crawling, standing, and walking. These are the most basic of motor-skills that the child has to develop. Then come the fine-motor skills, these are the ones that are a bit more complicated for the fresh mind such as holding a solid item (like a spoon or pen), drawing random and nonsensical shapes (the baby is unaware of what they are drawing in the beginning), and picking up small objects (and possibly putting them in their mouth).
These relate to the baby’s ability to think, speak, learn, and face certain stimulants. It would involve an infant responding to the facial expressions and the tone of someone’s voice, or just the pitch of any sound. For example, when we observe a baby advancing towards something that might be potentially dangerous for them we rapidly jerk them away and unintentionally speak in a loud voice. This sudden and new sound may cause your baby to immediately start crying.
This milestone is achieved when the infant becomes more aware of emotions and how to deal with them. They start to read the facial expressions of the adults and understand how to deal with them. They then start to grasp how they themselves are feeling. It is in this milestone where the infant learns how to interact with those emotions relayed by others to them. For example, infants start to understand very early when a person is angry, happy, or sad.
This involves both verbal and non-verbal elements. This is where the development of language starts. Babies will certainly speak the language that is spoken to them. As time progresses, the baby will start to formulate words, at first unintelligible and then they go on to say complete words and sentences.
In the first month of their life, the baby’s responses are purely based on reflex. This means that they are very automatic rather than thoughtful. This is because the nervous system has not been able to develop enough for the babies to think about their actions.
The mouth reflex of the baby develops enough for it to be breastfed. The baby will automatically begin to suck when prompted to. This sort of response last for approximately 3 months of the baby’s life. Another reflex is the startle reflex, in which the baby reacts to a loud noise. You will often see their eyes widen with a jerk of the head, or they may fall backward. It is also during this time that the baby is able to grasp solid objects. This develops into a much stronger hold in two months time. They start making cooing sounds as well smiling or extending their hands towards people they are familiar with.
This is the time where the baby slowly starts to collaborate physical development skills with motor skills. They have learned to roll over on their stomach, they can now sit up with some support of their hands (in the fourth month they will rely more on the support of their hands and then by 6 – 8 months they will be able to sit up independently) and explore objects by touching and holding. They would then also start to put the objects in their mouth. They also evaluate objects by shaking them vigorously.
This is where babies start crawling and are also able to display emotions. They will become more liberal with their crying, which they now understand is used to show distaste and get attention. Babies start to view the world through a color lens now and would be more cognizant of the objects around them. They will recognize familiar faces much more quickly and will not be hesitant to play and cuddle.
This is when babies starts to stand up, with support at first, but as the month’s progress, they are able to stand up without any added support. They can even begin to walk, especially when the people they are familiar with are beckoning them to do so. In this stage they start to indulge in more functional and intelligent activities.
Some babies develop quicker than others. So there are really no set rules. However, if your child is showing little or no advancement through the infant milestones you should contact your pediatrician for a complete evaluation.