Developmental milestones: the first six months

All babies develop at their own rate but here are some milestones to look forward to, regardless of when they occur!
All babies develop at their own rate but here are some milestones to look forward to, regardless of when they occur! 

It is important to realise that baby's developmental progress varies 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

Chat about babies in their first six months with Essential Baby members in our Babies 0-6 months forum.