Baby Milestones In The First Year: What To Expect

October 11, 2023

As a parent, you eagerly await the milestones that your baby will achieve in their first year. From rolling over to taking their first steps, these moments are filled with excitement and pride. In this article, we will explore the various baby milestones that you can expect in the first year of your little one’s life. From their physical development to their cognitive and social skills, we will guide you through this amazing journey of watching your baby grow and thrive. So, get ready to celebrate each milestone and cherish the memories as your baby reaches new heights in their first year.

Physical Milestones

Growth and weight gain

During the first year of life, your baby will experience incredible growth and weight gain. In the first few months, infants typically gain weight rapidly, and by the end of the first year, they usually triple their birth weight. It is essential to monitor your baby’s growth by regularly visiting the pediatrician and ensuring they are receiving proper nutrition.

Head control

Around three to four months of age, your baby will gain control of their head. They will be able to hold their head upright and steady when supported. This milestone is crucial as it sets the foundation for their physical development and enables them to explore their surroundings more effectively.

Rolling over

Between four to six months, rolling over becomes a common milestone for babies. Initially, your little one will start by rolling from tummy to back and eventually progress to rolling from back to tummy. This development signifies improved strength, coordination, and body awareness.

Sitting up

Around six to eight months, your baby will begin to sit up independently. Initially, they may require support, but soon they will be able to maintain a seated position without assistance. Sitting up strengthens their back and core muscles, facilitating their ability to engage in play and interact with their environment.


Crawling is an exciting milestone that typically occurs between seven to ten months. Some babies choose to army crawl, while others opt for a traditional crawl on their hands and knees. This stage of mobility allows your baby to explore their surroundings and develop their coordination and gross motor skills.


Between eight to twelve months, your baby may begin to pull themselves up to a standing position using furniture or other supports. This milestone marks the beginning of their journey towards walking. Encourage their standing attempts by providing stable objects for them to hold onto and explore.


Walking is a significant achievement that usually occurs around twelve to fifteen months. During this stage, your baby will start taking steps while holding onto furniture or with your assistance. Gradually, they will gain the confidence and balance needed to take independent steps. Celebrate each small victory as they develop their walking skills.

Motor Skills Development

Reaching and grabbing objects

From birth, babies have a natural inclination to explore their surroundings and reach for objects. Around three to four months, they will start reaching for toys or other objects within their grasp. Encourage their reaching and grabbing skills by providing age-appropriate toys that are safe and easy for them to manipulate.

Hand-eye coordination

Hand-eye coordination refers to the ability to synchronize hand movements with visual input. By the age of three to six months, your baby will start to accurately reach for objects and bring them to their mouth. This milestone demonstrates their developing hand-eye coordination and their growing understanding of cause and effect.

Playing with toys

Between six to nine months, your baby’s play skills will flourish as they become more adept at manipulating objects. They may enjoy playing with stacking toys, shape sorters, or toys that produce sounds. Playing with toys not only promotes their motor skills but also aids in their cognitive development and provides opportunities for sensory exploration.

Pincer grasp

The pincer grasp is a crucial milestone that occurs around nine to twelve months. It involves using the thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects. At first, your baby may clumsily grab objects between their palm and fingers, but with practice, they will refine their pincer grasp. This skill allows them to feed themselves and explore their surroundings in a more detailed manner.

Communication Milestones

Cooing and babbling

From the early months, your baby will engage in vocalizations such as cooing and babbling. Cooing typically begins around two to three months, and by six months, your baby will produce a variety of babbling sounds. These vocalizations are their way of exploring and practicing the sounds they hear, laying the groundwork for language development.

First words

Between ten to fourteen months, your baby will begin uttering their first words. These words may be simple, such as “mama,” “dada,” or the name of a beloved pet or toy. It is an exciting milestone that marks the beginning of their language acquisition journey. Encourage their language development by talking to them regularly, reading books, and engaging in interactive conversations.

Understanding simple instructions

Around twelve to eighteen months, your baby will start to comprehend simple instructions and respond accordingly. They may understand commands like “wave bye-bye” or “give me the toy,” demonstrating their growing receptive language skills. Celebrate their achievements as they follow instructions and continue to foster their language development.

Imitating sounds and gestures

Imitating sounds and gestures is an essential milestone in your baby’s communication journey. Between six to twelve months, they will imitate the sounds they hear, such as clapping or blowing kisses. Encourage this mimicry by demonstrating various sounds, gestures, and actions, creating opportunities for them to imitate and learn.


Pointing is a significant milestone that typically emerges between nine to twelve months. Your baby will point at objects or people, indicating their interest or desire for something. Pointing demonstrates their ability to communicate and share their wants and needs. Respond positively to their pointing gestures, acknowledging their efforts to express themselves.

Social and Emotional Milestones

Smiling and laughing

From birth, your baby will display social and emotional milestones, such as smiling and laughing. By two to three months, they will respond to your smiles with joyful grins of their own. Their smiles and laughter help build strong emotional bonds and contribute to their overall sense of well-being.

Recognizing familiar faces

Around three to six months, your baby will start to recognize familiar faces, including immediate family members. They may exhibit excitement or show signs of familiarity when they see a familiar face. Encourage interactions with loved ones to strengthen their recognition and social connections.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common milestone that occurs around eight to twelve months. Your baby may become distressed when you leave their sight or when they are separated from their primary caregivers. Understand that separation anxiety is a normal part of their development and provide reassurance and comfort during these moments.

Showing emotions

Throughout the first year, your baby will become more expressive in showing emotions. They may display happiness, frustration, anger, and even fear. Encourage emotional expression by responding empathetically to their feelings and providing a nurturing and supportive environment.

Playing games like peek-a-boo

Between six to twelve months, your baby will begin to enjoy simple interactive games, such as peek-a-boo. These games promote social interactions, build trust, and strengthen the bond between you and your baby. Engage in playful activities that stimulate their social and emotional development.

Cognitive Milestones

Exploring objects

From birth, your baby will be curious about their environment and eager to explore objects. They will use their senses to engage with toys, household items, and different textures. Provide a safe and stimulating environment with age-appropriate toys to encourage their curiosity and facilitate cognitive development.

Problem-solving skills

As your baby grows, they will develop problem-solving skills. Around eight to twelve months, they will begin to figure out how to manipulate objects or solve simple puzzles. Encourage their problem-solving abilities by offering toys that require basic problem-solving skills, such as shape sorters or simple nesting toys.

Cause and effect

Understanding cause and effect is a crucial cognitive milestone for your baby. By nine to twelve months, they will start to recognize that certain actions lead to specific outcomes. For example, they may learn that pressing a button on a toy produces a sound or that dropping a spoon on the floor will result in a loud noise. Provide toys and activities that allow them to explore cause and effect relationships.

Object permanence

Between six to nine months, your baby will begin to develop object permanence. This concept refers to their understanding that objects and people continue to exist even when they are out of sight. Foster their object permanence awareness through games like playing peek-a-boo or hiding toys under blankets for them to discover.

Feeding Milestones

Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding

In the early months, your baby will rely on breast milk or formula for their nutrition. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding helps establish a strong bond between you and your baby while providing them with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development. Follow their cues for feeding, ensuring they have enough nourishment.

Introducing solid foods

Around six months, your baby will be ready to start experimenting with solid foods. Begin with smooth purees and gradually introduce different tastes and textures. Introducing solid foods allows them to develop their taste preferences and advance their swallowing skills.


Between eight to twelve months, your baby will demonstrate an interest in self-feeding. Offer them opportunities to hold a spoon or finger foods and encourage their independent feeding attempts. Self-feeding promotes their fine motor skills and fosters their sense of autonomy.

Sleeping and Sleeping Milestones

Newborn sleep patterns

Newborns have unpredictable sleep patterns, with most sleeping for shorter durations and waking frequently for feeding. Their sleep-wake cycles are still developing, and it is essential to provide a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for them.

Establishing a sleep routine

Around three to six months, you can begin establishing a sleep routine for your baby. A consistent bedtime routine, such as a bath, followed by a story or lullaby, helps signal to your baby that it is time to sleep. Stick to a consistent schedule to promote healthy sleep habits.

Nighttime and daytime sleep

By six to twelve months, your baby’s sleep patterns should begin to consolidate, with longer stretches of nighttime sleep and regular daytime naps. Babies require varying amounts of sleep, but ensure they are getting an adequate amount for their age. Provide a soothing environment and follow a consistent bedtime routine to promote quality sleep.

Transitioning to fewer naps

Around twelve to eighteen months, your baby will gradually transition from multiple naps to fewer naps. They may begin to consolidate their naps into one or two longer periods during the day. Pay attention to their cues and adjust their nap schedule accordingly as they develop their sleep patterns.

Dental Milestones


Teething typically begins around six to ten months, although the timing can vary for each baby. Teething can be accompanied by symptoms such as drooling, irritability, and a desire to chew on objects. Provide teething toys or a clean, chilled washcloth to soothe their gums during this uncomfortable stage.

First tooth eruption

Between four to seven months, you may notice your baby’s first tooth beginning to emerge. Celebrate this milestone and start practicing good oral hygiene to maintain their dental health. Use a soft, baby-sized toothbrush and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to clean their teeth.

Oral hygiene

As soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts, it is important to establish good oral hygiene habits. Gently brush their teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Encourage them to spit out the toothpaste and rinse their mouth with water as they grow older.

Sensory Development

Vision development

At birth, your baby’s vision is still developing, and they can see objects best when they are close to their face. As they grow, their vision improves, and they become capable of focusing on objects at different distances. Stimulate their visual development by providing colorful and contrasting toys to capture their attention.

Hearing milestones

From birth, your baby has a sense of hearing and can recognize familiar voices. They will startle in response to loud noises and turn their head towards sounds. Encourage their hearing development by speaking and singing to them, playing soft music, or introducing them to different sounds in their environment.

Taste, smell, and touch

From the moment they are born, your baby explores the world through their senses of taste, smell, and touch. They have a preference for sweet tastes and may wrinkle their nose at new or unfamiliar smells. Provide a variety of safe and age-appropriate toys and objects for them to feel, taste, and explore, fostering their sensory development.

Medical Check-ups and Immunizations

Well-child visits

Regular well-child visits with your pediatrician are essential for monitoring your baby’s growth and development. These visits typically occur at specific intervals, such as two weeks, two months, four months, and so on, to ensure your baby is thriving and meeting their milestones.

Vaccination schedule

Following a vaccination schedule is crucial for protecting your baby against various diseases. Immunizations typically begin shortly after birth, and your pediatrician will provide you with a recommended schedule. Stay informed about the vaccines your baby receives and ensure they are up-to-date with their immunizations.

By understanding the typical milestones your baby may reach during their first year, you can better support their growth and development. Celebrate each accomplishment and provide a nurturing and stimulating environment to promote their overall well-being. Remember that every baby is unique, and while these milestones serve as guidelines, the exact timing may vary. Trust your instincts as a parent and enjoy this remarkable journey with your little one.

Sandra McNeil, PhD.
Sandra McNeil, PhD.

Sandra has over 13 years of experience as a child psychologist, both as a practitioner and researcher. She has a Bachelor's in child psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and then she did her master's in Psychology in Education (focused on Children & Families) at Columbia University, NY. She has been writing for health and child-related publications for over 5 years now.

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