Developmental milestones: the first year

Toddler development in the first year
Toddler development in the first year 

It is important to realise that a baby's developmental progress does vary greatly. Some children may miss out on developmental milestones all together - such as crawling. The following information is not intended to be a checklist, but it provides a general outline of the usual developmental progress for the age of your child.

Babies and infants will develop at differing levels depending on factors including their emotional and physical health. If you have any concerns about your child's development, talk to your GP or early childhood nurse.

At birth

  • Startles at any loud sound
  • If you lift your baby's head it will flop forward or backward
  • Tends to lie on tummy with knees drawn up underneath
  • Hands are usually closed but not tightly in a fist
  • Hands will involuntarily grasp as a reflex, such as grasping your finger
  • When asleep is generally oblivious to any disturbance around
  • When a face moves across line of vision, your baby may briefly focus and follow
  • No other social interaction is obvious
  • May show a walking reflex when held, but this will soon disappear

At six weeks

  • Lies in a more relaxed, less flexed posture
  • When held in the prone position your baby may raise his/her head slightly to be on the same level as the rest of their body, but does not have any head control when in a sitting position
  • The grasp reflex continues
  • Hands do not voluntarily hold objects
  • When mother's and baby's eyes meet your baby may give you a smile
  • Responds to a comforting voice with facial movements and by alteration of breathing
  • Sleeps most of the time when not being handled or fed

At three months

  • Lies on tummy with propped up on forearms with head up and looking around
  • When held upright head has reasonable control
  • When pulled up to sit, head does not flop back
  • Grasp reflex disappears
  • Hands kept open most of the time
  • Will not pick up a toy, but will wave a rattle put is his/her hand
  • Will watch and play with their own fingers
  • Quietens when hearing an unexpected sound
  • Smiles when they hear a friendly voice
  • Excited to see food coming
  • Eyes are bright and alert

At six months

  • Can roll easily from front to back, but back to front is more difficult
  • Head control complete and strong
  • Nearly able to sit alone
  • Can reach for a toy
  • Toys moved from hand to hand
  • Everything goes in the mouth!
  • Turns decisively to a side to locate a noise
  • Laughs, squeals, chuckles
  • Very interested in everything - visually insatiable
  • First teeth appear
  • Still separates easily and is friendly to complete strangers

At nine months

  • Can sit securely and lean to pick up a toy
  • Needs some help to get himself to sit
  • Can hold onto furniture and pull himself to stand
  • Makes walking movements when held standing
  • Squirms around floor
  • Some babies are now crawling, though at first often backwards
  • Pokes at objects with index finger
  • Starts to hold small objects between thumb and index finger
  • Begins to intentionally release things from hand
  • Keenly interested in what is happening around
  • Babbles, such as dadadadada, babababababa
  • Understands the word no! and obeys it sometimes!
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Starts to hold bottle on own
  • Feeds himself a rusk and can now chew lumpy foods
  • Likes to be close to the family, fear of strangers is usually strong
  • Starts to throw body back in protest

Chat about your baby discuss their developmental milestones with other Mums.