Your baby is finally here! The thrill and expectations of being new parents can be overwhelming. You look forward to every change with your infant, from their first giggle to their first reasonable sound. It's time to learn more about the infant development stages from birth to six months of age.
Remember, every baby grows at its own pace.
If you think your baby is slow to get to a particular milestone, that is normal. Some babies outdo the norm, while some don't. Others might regress even after showing developmental signs. All of these are pretty normal.
The first six months of your baby's development are crucial, as that is the most fragile stage. These first six months require optimum care and attention from parents or caregivers.
Newborn and Infant Development Stages
For healthy newborns, there are basic expectations of the motor (fine or gross), cognitive, communication, and self-induced skills that they should display. You should remember that all infants develop differently.
Your newborn may do above or below these standards and still be healthy. We'll take the development sequentially, from the first day to the sixth month.
Types of Newborn Milestones
Infant milestones are classified into five categories:
Gross Motor Skills: These are skills that involve the body's large muscles, including the trunk, neck, arms, and legs. Some include sitting, standing, walking, and controlling the head.
Fine Motor Skills: These skills involve delicate movements of the fingers and hands. They include picking up objects, writing, and painting.
Language Skills: These are essential building blocks for your baby to start speaking. For toddlers, they include facial expressions, body movements, laughing, and crying. Yes, your baby cries to communicate.
Social Skills: These are skills your child will need to interact with others as they grow. They include giving, taking turns, and playing with others.
Cognitive Skills: These skills enable your child to solve problems and adapt.
Newborn Development: The First Month
Your baby doesn't seem to be doing much by this time, but you'll be surprised by the development.
Your baby should start moving their hands and feet to their mouth by the first month.
They should start focusing on objects that are brought close to them.
You should also expect them to exhibit some reflexes, like closing their eyes at the bright light and turning toward familiar voices.
Childcare Development: The Second Month
By the second month, your baby should have developed a bit more. They might lift their head and chest with their hands when lying on their tummy.
You should expect them to start trying to follow movements with their eyes.
The language skills begin to show as your child starts gurgling, cooing, and crying for their needs.
Age-Appropriate Development: The Third Month
Your baby becomes a bit more independent by the third month. They should be able to grasp toys and be preoccupied with them.
They may begin to smile at your voice and recognize familiar faces from afar.
Your baby should get the hang of vowel sounds by now, too. You may expect them to start putting their hands in their mouths for their motor skills.
By the fourth month, your baby’s development gets more visible. They grasp toys with more coordination and begin to shake them. They can hold their head and chest up when lying on their tummies longer.
By the fourth month, if you hold them in a standing position, they should be able to push down with their legs. They should start to copy your facial expressions, too.
For their language skills, they should now have different cries for different needs. Don’t worry; you’ll know which is which.
A lot of motor skills are achieved by the fifth month. Your baby should start to roll from their back or tummy to their side when lying down. They should be able to move objects from one hand to another.
They may show interest in their food, indicating they are preparing for solid foods.
Your baby should realize now that raising their hands means 'pick me up.'
By the sixth month, your baby’s development is pronounced. For gross motor skills, they should be sitting up briefly without support. For language, they may start saying some consonant sounds and their vowels.
Their social skills have them enjoying playtime and expressing their displeasure when they stop. For their cognitive skills, they should now be able to recognize their name.
They should be accomplished with fine motor skills enough to grasp spoons and bring them to their mouth. That is why UNICEF and the American Academy Of Pediatricians advocate for you to begin weaning your child now.
Every child develops at their own pace, so if your child is slow to achieve milestones, you shouldn’t panic. Your child may catch up in a few weeks or months, but you should consult your pediatrician if you have concerns.