Every baby is different and will reach developmental milestones at different times. However, there are some common milestones that all babies should reach by a certain age. This article will discuss the most important developmental milestones for babies, as well as when they are typically expected to be reached.
Lifts head and chest off the floor when held in a sitting position, eyes looking forward
Very few babies will develop the neck strength necessary to hold their heads up as early as two months old. By four months of age, most babies have good head control and can lift their heads well off the ground. Not all will be able to maintain this posture if they are pulled into an erect sitting position, but most should be capable of doing so with proper support. Babies that cannot sit by themselves at six months usually never will fully develop the skills necessary for independent sitting.
Rolls over both ways (back to tummy and tummy to back)
A baby begins rolling over sometime between two and six months; however, the majority of babies will roll over from their backs to their tummies during the first month. By four months most babies can do this on cue, which allows parents to place them in a safe area when they are not being watched. Babies that cannot roll both ways by six months may never be able to do so.
Sits without support
By three months of age, most babies can sit for short periods with some type of support (e.g., sitting against the couch or held in an adult’s lap). Sometime between eight and ten months most babies will develop enough head control, neck strength, and trunk stability to sit independently for long periods. Parents need to know that even though most babies can sit without support by eight months they are still at risk of injury if not placed in a safe area.
Babies begin to imitate body movements between four and ten months. Since each baby is different, parents should be aware that imitation may not occur until close to six months or even later for some children. However, if the behavior does not appear by this time then it is unlikely that the child will ever develop the ability to imitate others voluntarily. Some infants have no interest in performing body movements unless the music is being played; however, others are interested in imitating their parents’ actions immediately after birth even though they cannot hear sounds until five or six weeks of age.
Reaches for objects
Reaching begins sometime between three and four months, but may not be noticeable for several weeks. The age at which babies first reach is very individualistic; however, most parents will notice that their baby is reaching by six months. It is important to realize that just because the baby is holding the arm out in front of him or her does not mean they are trying to touch an object until they are closer to seven or eight months old. Babies do not typically use reaching as a means of communication until ten months. If you want your infant to have more toys available to play with make sure he/she can see them from his/her crib or play area, before purchasing them.
Sucks on fingers or thumbs
Most babies will suck on their fingers between three and four months of age. Sucking is the baby’s way of comforting himself/herself when they are tired, hungry, or upset. If you are concerned that your child may be sucking his/her thumb simply ask him/her to show it to you. It is important to realize that even though many parents feel guilty about encouraging oral habits in infants it is developmentally appropriate for the baby to want to put anything he/she can grasp into his/her mouth. Placing a pacifier or bottle in the baby’s mouth may prevent him/her from exploring other objects around them with their mouth, so try not to offer either until after six months old.
Babies go through many developmental milestones as they grow. Some of these milestones, such as sitting without support, occur relatively early on, while others, such as imitating body movements, may not appear until later. It is important for parents to be aware of these milestones and what to look for in their child’s development to provide the appropriate level of support.