At least once per week, my husband turns to me and asks “when will our son ______”. Although I have a general idea of when babies meet certain milestones (aka I know they don’t start walking at 2 months old), I do not have all of those milestones memorized. I decided to do some research and compile a list of developmental milestones from infant to toddler for all my fellow parents out there.
The age range for each of these milestones can vary dramatically. Every baby is different, and they will all develop at different rates. The ranges I have listed below were pulled from a very comprehensive resource I found on the CDC website which you can find HERE.
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This is one of the very first milestones that we, as parents, look forward to. Although Baby may give off a few “gas” smiles in the first few weeks, that first genuine smile is enough to melt your heart and typically happens around 2 months old. It is important to talk, sing, and play with your baby to help with their development. They will start picking up on social cues so smile, clap, and act excited when they make sounds or smile at you – this will help them associate the action with a positive experience. In addition to smiling, you might also notice them trying to look at you, making baby noises like cooing, and turning their head towards sounds.
Now that you’ve gotten a smile, your next milestone is getting them to laugh. This typically happens around 3 or 4 months old. You can play games like peek-a-boo, sing songs, and act silly in an attempt to hear this sweet sound. Sometimes, what makes them laugh can be unexpected. My son was obsessed with us saying “hi” and would crack up every time. As you can imagine, that led to us saying it over and over again. The sound of a good belly laugh is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face! With the first laugh comes other big milestones like babbling, increased head control, facial recognition, and hand-eye coordination.
Rolling over is a hard milestone to pinpoint. Some babies roll over as early as 4 months, while others may take longer. My son didn’t roll from belly to back until about 5 months, and back to belly came a few weeks after. Some of this has to do with how large your child is. Bigger babies may have a harder time rolling over, and this is totally normal! With the rolling comes increased upper body strength and they might be able to start pushing up on their elbows. It’s important to allow lots of tummy time so they can practice these movements. Even if your baby hates tummy time, keep introducing it. My son hated it in the beginning, but once he was able to roll over and inch his way around, he started to enjoy it so much more.
Typically, your baby will be able to sit up unassisted around 6 months old. Some babies master this skill earlier, while others might take a bit longer. I found that my son was a little more advanced on this skill, and I contribute most of that to his giant thighs holding him down. This was a huge turning point for us, because our son was much happier on the ground once he could sit by himself and play with toys. Around 6 months, you might seem them passing things from one hand to another, trying to get to things just out of reach, and rolling over both directions. Some kids will be able to get up on all fours and rock back and forth, which is great practice for crawling!
The 6-month mark is full of big developmental changes. Most babies will get their first tooth around 6-10 months, but teething can start long before that. If you are experiencing the “joys” of teething, you might want to check out my post Teething: Signs, Symptoms, and Soothing Techniques. The two front bottom teeth will come in at the same time followed by the two front top teeth anywhere from a few days to a few months after. This is probably the least exciting milestone, because it usually results in a lot of tears – and your baby will probably cry too. However, those two little teeth are so stinking cute, and make for some adorable smiles.
Babies tend to start crawling anywhere between 6 and 10 months old, while other babies skip this phase altogether. Even if focusing on walking might seem like they will be “ahead” of the curve, it is so important to try and get your babies to crawl, even if just for a week or two. Crawling helps develop so many different things such as fine and gross motor skills, balance, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, self-confidence, strength, and so much more. I didn’t understand the importance of crawling until it was explained to us by our Physical Therapist. My son just recently turned 8 months old and he is ALMOST there. He is able to army crawl, can get up on all fours, and rock back and forth. We expect him to start crawling within the next week. Along with crawling comes a big milestone for us parents – baby proofing! Make sure to put up the baby gates, cover outlets, and pick up all choking hazards or safety risks like cords.
Babies can start saying easy words like mama or dada as early as 7 months. This will usually show up as a string of syllables like mamamamama or dadadadadada, and they usually don’t understand the correlation between you (mom or dad) and the sounds they are saying until later. My son said Mama first when he was about 7.5 months old [you can check out the video clip on my instagram HERE]. On average, babies say dada first because it is slightly easier to make the da sound than the mmmm sound. The most common first words according to parents are:
- Hi (hiya, hello, etc)
- Dog (or names of dogs)
- Bye (bye-bye, ta-ta)
It is common for babies to start standing up (while holding on to something) around 9 months old. Like with any development, this can also vary drastically. Some babies are walking by 9 months, while others still haven’t mastered the art of crawling. Standing without support comes a little later (anywhere from 10-15 months is considered normal). To help encourage standing, you can put baby in your lap with their feet on your legs and help them bounce up and down. You will also want to put baby close to things that they can safely pull up on. You will want to avoid anything that might topple over onto them if they pull too hard.
After your little one masters the art of standing up, they will start to venture out and take their first step. You can usually expect this first step to occur somewhere between 9 and 12 months. They will start by cruising along furniture or while holding onto something supportive (like a walker). From there they will start to take independent steps. You can try to help them out by holding onto their body instead of their arms. When you hold their body, this helps keep their center of gravity in the correct spot and they don’t end up leaning forward like when you hold their hands. You can also try putting toys just out of reach so they have motivation to move forwards.
After your baby has mastered taking small steps, they will be walking before you know it. You can expect them to start walking by the time they are 15 months old, but some babies don’t get to that point until slightly later and that’s okay. By the time they are 18 months old, they should be able to walk up stairs, run around, and even pull toys behind them while they walk. Now that they are walking, it’s not only important to have outlets and such baby proofed, but you will also want to put away cleaning supplies and other dangerous items that are higher up.
Can throw a Ball
I get this question asked almost every other day – by my husband and all of my son’s uncles. By the time your child is 2 years old, they should be able to kick a ball, throw overhand, or be able to handle a small basketball. This is a great time to get outside and spend some quality time with your children. Not only does this encourage a healthy lifestyle, but playing sports can also improve hand-eye coordination.
Ride a Bike
By about 3 years of age, your child should be able to ride a tricycle. Let your child enjoy the outdoors and nature. Whether that is riding bikes, or letting them just run around and explore, being outside is amazing for your little ones! It’s important to let them play around without structured activities so they can use their imagination.
By the time your child is 5 years old, they should be able to use the potty by themselves. Some babies are ready to start training as early as 18 months old, but most parents don’t start the process until they are about 2.5 or 3 years old. Potty training can be a long process, but they should be able to handle the task on their own by the time they are 5. Check out this post on 8 Effective Potty Training Tips for Toddlers by one of my favorite mom bloggers Nurturing Tamra.
Although all children develop at different times, there are certain developmental milestones that should be met by specific ages. Understanding these milestones and talking with your doctor can help identify potential problems or determine areas that may need closer evaluation. You can check out this comprehensive screening pamphlet “Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!” by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
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