Your babys development in the first six months

Developmental milestones in the first 6 months

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Each baby is unique, with individual characteristics, different environments and varying social interactions, so it won’t come as a surprise to learn that there is a big range of what is considered “normal” when it comes to developmental milestones.

Each baby is unique, with individual characteristics, different environments and varying social interactions, so it won’t come as a surprise to learn that there is a big range of what is considered “normal” when it comes to developmental milestones.

The first year of a baby’s life is a wonder year of growth and development. Milestones are skills that can be easily identified, like sitting without assistance, crawling or clapping. They are generally grouped into four categories: physical, language, social/emotional and cognitive (learning, thinking and problem-solving skills) development.

You can help support your baby’s development by:

  • Providing adequate opportunity for sleep
  • Quality nutrition
  • Fresh air and sunshine
  • Behaving in a predictable way
  • Showing sensitivity, warmth, and love
  • Talking and playing with your baby
  • Setting boundaries without being harsh

Babies develop at their own pace. They will go through milestones at different ages and spend different amounts of time in each stage. The information provided below is a guide only, but if you have any concerns about your baby’s development, it’s important that you talk with your baby’s doctor.

Below we have included a guide to help you mark your baby’s milestones off and make note of anything that you’d like to discuss with your health care provider.

Your baby’s development in the first six months

From birth to two months, your baby may:

  • Show a rooting reflex. This is a feeding reflex and results in the baby turning their head to the side if the cheek, lips or chin is stroked.
  • React to loud noises by becoming startled or quiet when they hear a loud noise.
  • Holding their head up. This will be for a few moments to start with, becoming longer as your baby’s muscles get stronger.
  • Make quick and jerking arm movements. This is because your baby’s nervous system is still developing. Movements will become smoother as the nervous system develops.
  • Focus on objects which are eight to 30 cm away.

From three to four months, your baby may:

  • Respond to loud sounds by crying.
  • Grasp and holds an object briefly.
  • Have better control of the hands.
  • Rotate or turn the head from side to side with no head bobbing.
  • Push down on legs when their feet are placed on a firm surface.
  • Show the rooting reflex less often or not at all.

From four to six months, your baby may:

  • Hold their head steady.
  • Learn to roll from tummy to side, and then from tummy to back.
  • Stand with support.
  • Bring feet to mouth while lying on their back.

Your baby’s social and emotional development

From birth to one month, your baby may:

  • Communicate by crying.
  • Show a sense of trust that their needs are being met.
  • Show attachment and respond positively to tenderness and compassion from significant adults.
  • Make eye contact with caregivers for several seconds.

From one to three months, your baby may:

  • Communicate by cooing or making gurgling or grunting sounds.
  • Smile at the sound of familiar voices.
  • Watch objects or people moving by tracking with their eyes.
  • Cry to communicate that their needs have not been met.
  • Smile at strangers.

From three to six months, your baby may:

  • Babble and laugh to interact with important adults and other children.
  • Respond to smiles by smiling back.
  • Pay close attention to older children and their actions.
  • Calm self by placing their fingers in their mouth or by focusing on something else, such as a toy, their clothing, or a mobile.

Your baby’s language development

From one to two months, your baby may:

  • Coo in response to speech.

From two to four months, your baby may:

  • Make squealing and pre-talking gurgling sounds.

From four to six months, your baby may:

  • Babble consonant sounds such as “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba” and “da-da-da-da-da”.
  • Laugh out loud in response to play.

Your baby’s cognitive development - The learning, thinking and problem-solving skills

From birth to two months, your baby may:

  • Show an understanding and sense of trust that crying brings comfort.
  • Prefer black-and-white or high-contrast patterns.

From two to four months, your baby may:

  • Explore their environment more with their hands and mouth.
  • Discover that hands and feet are an extension of the self. You may see your baby staring at their hands and intentionally grab or hold the feet.
  • Respond to their own reflection in the mirror by making eye contact and potentially reaching out to touch the reflection.
  • Anticipate events. Your baby may begin to recognise that a meal, a bath, or bedtime is about to happen.

From four to six months, your baby may:

  • Show an interest in intentional play with toys and objects.