Is Baby Hitting Developmental Milestones? New Parents, Here's What to Look for From Months One to Nine by 30Seconds Mom
A baby's development tends to progress at a measured pace and at predictable intervals. That is, your baby is able to hear you clearly in the first month of life, can lift his or her head in the second month, and open and close his or her hands at 3 months old. These and other milestones are signs that your baby is developing normally and less likely to experience a developmental delay. Then there are babies who suffered a preventable birth injury and won't develop according to a normal timeline.
Sometimes a bad decision made by a physician during the labor and delivery process can cause developmental issues for a child, and sometimes it's the child lagging behind because of other reasons.
Labor and Delivery
Giving birth, no matter if it's natural or via C-section, can be a risky time for Mother and Baby. When all goes well, the baby arrives and experiences normal physical development. But sometimes a physician makes an error that could have been avoided and results in an adverse outcome for the baby. Some of the injuries include:
- brachial palsy
- cerebral palsy
- oxygen deprivation with various adverse outcomes
- meconium aspiration
- spinal cord injury
- excessive bleeding
Some of these birth injuries are life-altering and have obvious signs, while other injuries aren't as visible and only show up when there's a delay in development. Here is a look at major developmental milestones for babies from months one to nine:
Months One to Three
- Development in the first month is minimal but recognizable. A baby can make jerky motions and movements, bring hands up to the face and see up to 12 inches away from the face. Parents may notice that the baby recognizes their voices by trying to focus on the speaker.
- At month two, the baby is crying a lot more and tends to be fussy. Vision is sharpening and the ability to track a moving object is noticeable. You also may notice that he or she is able to focus on your face and voice more easily. Legs are straightening and neck muscles are strengthening. He or she also may be starting to make nonsense noises.
- Month three sees more visual development, including reactions to voices and a clear focus on moving objects. You may notice that he or she smiles when hearing your voice. He or she also may be starting to imitate sounds. And there's more upper-body strength, which means he or she can push up with the arms. His or her ability to hold onto toys and objects is improving, and he or she may be opening and closing hands with regularity.
Months Four to Six
- At 4 months old, your baby starts getting physically active. He or she may start rolling from stomach to back and pushing up onto elbows. He or she might have enough strength to sit up at some point during this month, but don't be alarmed if doesn't happen just yet. Teeth are starting to develop, and he or she may be more inclined to put things in the mouth.
- Five months of age is when you may start noticing your baby becoming more interested in the world. His or her ability to see and distinguish colors may be starting to develop and verbalization is beginning to become distinctive. Hearing is more focused and you might see him or her react to voices by turning the head. Rolling over has, or is about to, begin and you may see the effort to get from back to stomach with regularity. Teething also may be starting at this point.
- Month six is the time that you may start seeing a growth spurt. Don't worry if your baby's a little fussy or wants to eat more frequently; it's normal and he or she may be looking for more energy to fuel growth. You'll start noticing that his or her vision has improved and he or she can see further distances. Things become more interesting to the baby, and he or she is more likely to examine objects and toys with the eyes and mouth. The head can turn more quickly upon hearing a noise. He or she may be able to roll more easily at this point, too.
Months Seven to Nine
- During month seven, the muscle development from the previous months has paid off as your baby should start sitting up without help. His or her grip is improving and can be more selective with the hand and fingers. When you hold the baby up, he or she is able to put weight on the legs to help support him- or herself. And speech is becoming more distinct as the baby starts to imitate sounds he or she hears in the environment.
- At month eight, Baby's depth of vision is stronger as he or she is able to see things across the room, and has an easier time of reaching out for objects and grabbing them. In fact, Baby may be able to handle a sippy cup for fluids. Baby may be sitting up on his or her own at this point, although perhaps a bit wobbly. You may notice that Baby is preparing to crawl by making movements like crouching, twisting and rocking the body.
- When month nine arrives, vision and hearing keep improving, but they take a back seat to standing, sitting and crawling. It may be a little early for some babies to crawl, but you should see significant improvement in Baby's strength even if he or she is not crawling. The ability to grip is starting to become refined and Baby does what's known as the pincer grasp. Baby also may be saying “mama” and “dada” to the appropriate parent.
Some babies are early to these milestones while others are late or skip them entirely. Each baby is different, but the milestones are an indicator that everything is progressing as it should. In the event your baby isn't acting as he or she should at a given age, you should see your pediatrician as soon as possible.
Time is of the essence when it comes to minimizing long-term damage from a birth injury. Your pediatrician can evaluate your baby and determine the source of the developmental delay. If the physician has diagnosed an injury as the source of the delay, he or she can refer you to a specialist for further treatment.
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