Baby milestones - stages of development
Looking out for the signs of baby development can be one of the most exciting parts of your newborn’s growth, but what can you expect to happen and when?
Of course your little star is the best baby ever! But if you’re like any other mum, you’ll often wonder what your baby should be doing now. Read our guide to the first three months to set your mind at rest.
Baby’s first... look
When your baby is born, they will only be able to focus about 20cm in front of them.
As their vision develops, they’ll be able to follow you with their eyes. ‘You can encourage them to follow you with their eyes by playing with a toy in front of them,’ says child psychologist Claire Halsey, author of Baby Play For Every Day. ‘Go for one that is black, red or white, as they’re the easiest colours for newborns to see.’
Baby’s first... smile
If there’s one thing that will get you through those crazy first couple of months as a new mum, it’s the prospect of spotting your baby’s first gummy grin. It makes the weeks of sleepless nights and nappies all worthwhile.
‘A baby usually smiles at around six weeks,’ says Halsey. You’ll know it’s a smile and not gas because they’ll smile with their whole face and eyes. Encourage plenty of baby smiles with eye contact, smiles from you (they’ll copy you) and games such as peekaboo.
Baby’s first... sit-up
The process by which your baby learns to sit up on his own is quite drawn out and relies on them mastering other skills, including tummy time, which is needed to help strengthen neck and arm muscles. Once they’re happy on their front, they’ll probably start rolling over.
‘To encourage sitting up, you may need to start by propping them up with cushions,’ says Halsey. ‘Gradually, they’ll develop enough strength in their torso to hold themselves up on their own, although be prepared for plenty of comedy sideways lunges as they learn to support themselves. And make sure there are soft furnishings to cushion the fall.’ They’ll usually be able to sit up unassisted by six to seven months, but for some babies, it can be later.
Baby’s first... crawl
Once your baby starts crawling, get ready to need eyes in the back of your head because they will suddenly be everywhere! Most babies start crawling at around nine months.
‘They’ll start by digging their toes in during tummy time, and pushing on their hands,’ says Halsey. ‘You may notice that once they’ve learnt how to get their knees under themselves, they may rock back and forth before they set off crawling.’
Baby’s first... steps
All babies are born with the natural ability to walk – they just lack the physical strength to do it until they’re usually around a year old. Some babies will walk later, but it’s usually at 12-14 months.
‘Your baby may start by pulling themselves up into a standing position and leaning on sofas or chairs while they take steps around the room – this is known as cruising,’ says Halsey. ‘Put toys a few steps away from your baby to encourage them to walk towards them. You can also hold them securely round the waist while they walk, to help them practise his steps.’
Don’t worry too much about when your baby walks, as babies develop in their own time. If you’re worried, you can get advice from your doctor or health visitor.
By Hannah Fox