Development Milestones from Birth to six Months

Holding a new child can be an exciting and terrifying experience for any new parent. This little bundle is entirely dependent on its parents for survival, but it didn’t exactly come with an instruction manual. One of the more terrifying aspects of first time parenting is discerning what is normal development and awareness for an infant and what might indicate there is a problem. There are certain developmental and awareness milestones that are considered normal for all infants on a month by month basis. While this is not foolproof it can be a great guide in figuring out whether something is a concern or not. It is important to keep in mind that all infants will grow and develop differently. For example, it is common for boys to speak later than girls but are often quicker to learn how to walk. Only a pediatrician can make the determination if a certain aspect of development is normal for a specific infant, but parents can get some peace of mind by knowing their new baby is on the right track.

Month One

During the first month it is typical for babies to lose a pound or two of weight directly after birth and then start gaining normally. If an infant does not start to gain weight, this is a concern that should be brought to a pediatrician’s attention. By the end of this month, an infant should be able to momentarily support its own head, but will still need head support for a little while longer. A month old infant should also start making some awareness milestones during this time as well. The baby should be able to follow objects with their gaze when they are seen, similarly they should start recognizing mom and dad and look at them when they are talking. 

Month Two

The infant should get better at supporting their own head, specifically from a lying down position. When on their stomach, the baby should be able to hold their head at a 45 degree angle, but will still need head support when they are sitting up. This may also be when that first smile begins to appear. The baby should start to actively look for noises or voices and react to the presence of other people. Not only should they be more aware of voices, but he or she should vocalize or coo when they hear a familiar voice. Cries and vocalizations should start to become more distinct, thus the common phrase among parents “that’s his hungry cry.” If the parents are paying attention, they will be able to discern what the infant needs based on their crying.

Month Three

By three months of age an infant should be able to support their head when sitting but may still bob their head forward if they are distracted, jostled or tired. When laying on their stomach they should be able to lift their head and shoulders off the ground and support that weight with their forearms. During this month, parents will also notice an increase in their baby’s interaction with their environment. He or she will begin laughing, cooing and babbling around this time. When familiar people are talking to the baby, a verbal response should start to happen like babbling or cooing at the person. The infant should start to have an awareness of unfamiliar situations or people and react in an apprehensive manner.

Month Four

One of the more exciting developments in month four is the beginning of rolling over while in on their stomach, most parents get very excited about this as their baby becomes more mobile. Around this time the baby’s hand-eye coordination is starting to develop, so while he or she may reach for objects it is not unusual for them to miss the object a little bit. An infant of this age should start to become much more vocal and begin trying to form consonant sounds.

Month Five

By the end of the fifth month, the baby should be teething. And along with this comes all the signs that teething has begun from constant drooling all the way to placing all available objects in their mouth to chew on. Around this time the infant should become more curious about their own body such as grasping their toes and attempting to chew on them. Babies of this age will become upset if a toy is taken away from them, and can easily recognize familiar people to strangers at this point.

Month Six

By six months of age, an infant should have full control over their head whether in a sitting or lying position. They can grasp and hold objects steady, like a bottle. Rolling over from back to stomach or stomach to back will become easier and more constant. One syllable words will start to form during this time as time, such as da or ma. Since the baby is more aware of their surroundings at this point, they will adjust the position of their head or body to track an object and they are starting to enjoy more complex forms of play.

Watching an infant grow and become more aware of the world surrounding them is one of the most rewarding experiences any parents can have. All babies will learn and grow at their own pace and parents will become accustomed to what is normal for their baby. Most of the time there is no reason to be concerned about a baby’s development, but if a parent notices that their infant is missing significant milestones then a doctor’s opinion should be sought.