By DP Nguyen
When you were pregnant, you did everything you could to have a healthy and happy baby. You ate a balanced and nutritious diet; you avoided bad habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol; and you exercised regularly. Now that your baby is out of the womb, your role is to ensure that he grows up and develops like he should.
As your baby grows older, you are probably itching and waiting for each developmental milestone. If you’re a first-time parent, you probably only know about common baby milestones – such as rolling over, crawling, and saying his first word. But did you know that there are other significant milestones that you should pay extra attention to? These milestones are markers that will let you know whether your baby is developing normally, or if he may need extra help.
Eye Contact (6 to 8 weeks old)
The day that your baby makes eye contact with you, you should jump for joy. This may seem like a small milestone, but it’s actually an important one. Eye contact and the ability to follow you with his eyes show that the neurological growth and his ability to communicate with you are on track. It’s your baby’s way of saying, “Hey, mom! I know who you are.”
Smiling at You (6 to 8 weeks)
Another developmental milestone that may seem minor is a social smile. Your baby smiles in response to your smile. This isn’t the occasional smile that your baby has when he just passed gas or is staring at something on the ceiling. When your baby smiles in response to your own grin, it’s because he’s able to make sense of what you’re doing and he’s responding to it.
So if your baby is between 6 and 8 weeks old, smile often. Encourage your baby to smile back. This is a wonderful way for you and your child to bond with each other.
If you don’t notice the social smile by the time your baby is 3 months old, mention this to your pediatrician or your child’s doctor. This can sometimes signal an eye problem, or an attachment disorder.
Cooing (8 weeks)
What parent doesn’t get excited at the sound of her cooing baby? Around 8 weeks of age, your baby should be starting to master her adorable “cooing” technique. You may find that your baby coos when you’re talking to him, or just because he feels like it. Cooing is adorable, and it also indicates that your baby’s front temporal lobe is maturing. The front temporal lobe is the brain’s “speech center.”
If your baby doesn’t coo by the time she’s 3 months old, talk to your pediatrician. This can sometimes also indicate a hearing problem.
Rolling Over (2 to 3 months)
This is a milestone that many parents know about. Between 2 and 3 months old, you may notice that your baby tries to push himself up. He may start rocking back and forth and even kick his foot. It won’t be until about 5 months old that your baby will be able to flip to his tummy. You should encourage tummy time and supervise it. Tummy time actually helps with prevention of the soft spot on the back of your baby’s head.
When your baby starts to roll over, it’s more important than ever that you don’t leave your child alone unsupervised. Never leave your baby alone on an elevated surface, even for a second. You don’t want to have any accidents!
Babbling (3 to 4 months)
After your baby masters cooing, he will move on to babbling. You may know “babbling” as “baby talk.” Some babies are more talkative than others and will just babble all the time. Other babies are quieter and will only babble when they’re in the mood.
Your baby should start babbling between 3 and 4 months old. If your child doesn’t babble by 6 months, discuss any concerns that you may have with your doctor.
Reaching and Grabbing for Items (3 and 5 months)
This is a pretty exciting milestone. When your baby starts to reach and grab for items, it shows that your baby is curious and wants to explore the world around her. You should encourage your child to grab and reach for items. Spend time with your developing baby, place a toy just out of reach, and watch your baby reach for the object.
Playing Peek-a-Boo (6 months)
All babies love playing peek-a-boo. When your baby reaches 6 months old, you should play peek-a-boo with your baby and stimulate his mind. It’s around this age that your child starts to understand the concept of object permanence – the idea that although he can’t see an object, he knows that it’s hidden behind something else.
When you play peek-a-boo, sit enough so that your baby can see you. Place your hands over your face and ask, “Where’s mommy,” and then let him see your face. For extra fun, vary the amount of time that your face remains hidden.
Sitting Up and Crawling (6 to 10 months)
Once your baby hits 6 months old, you may notice that he has enough balance and muscle strength to start sitting up. At first, your baby won’t be able to sit up for a long period of time, but this will soon change.
After your baby has mastered sitting up, it won’t be long before he starts to reposition himself and exploring his world by crawling. Once your baby starts crawling, this is a good time to start child proofing your house. You just never know what your baby will get into!
Walking (10 to 18 months)
When your baby has enough muscle strength, balance, and coordination, he will start trying to explore his world in a new way – walking. He will be wobbly at first and he’ll probably fall down a few times. In time, his confidence will grow and he’ll be walking like a pro!
This is an exciting stage for any parent, but you’ll want to monitor your baby carefully to avoid any accidents that may happen.
About the Author
DP Nguyen is a writer for The Baby Crib, LLC, an online retailer that specializes in baby crib bedding, nursery decor and accessories, and baby crib bedding sets for girls.