Like all living things, your baby will start to develop and change from the moment it is born. Naturally, it’s been developing since conception, but the first year of its life will see some pretty dramatic changes. While human babies still don’t develop at anywhere near the rate of other animals, we can still marvel at how far a little baby has come by its first birthday.
For all mothers, understanding what to expect from a typical development is crucial. It lets you identify if your baby might be a slow developer, and why this might be. Likewise, it’s good to know what not to expect over this year-long period. While your baby is likely to know a few words by their first birthday, it’s unlikely you’ll have to worry about teaching them the alphabetic principle and helping them learn to read. Hopefully, this article will help you set realistic expectations to see what the average baby is capable of as they grow:
The first three months
The first three months are really interesting as this is almost like your baby’s adjustment period. They’ve spent nine months growing inside your womb, so they need a bit of time to get used to the outside world. After three months of being alive, most babies are able to raise their heads and chest when lying on their stomachs. They can also start smiling when you smile at them, and they learn to use their hands. Your child isn’t going to be grabbing a pencil and writing a novel, but they can learn to grip things.
You should also notice that your child learns how to track things. No, this doesn’t mean they become hunters like other baby animals, it simply refers to their eyes. If you hold something in front of them, they will be able to follow it when you move it. It’s a good idea to do this regularly to see when your child starts picking up this skill as it shows their awareness.
The first six months
Fast forward another three months and your child starts to hone their most basic skills. They build on what they already know, adding a few new important skills to their arsenal. For instance, they can now do more than simply lifting their head up; they can sit up with a bit of help, control their head movements better, and roll over onto their back.
Their curiosity increases after 4-6 months as well, with most babies starting to grab everything they can see. I’m sure you’ve met a friend’s baby and held them in your arms, only for them to get a massive bunch of your hair in their tiny hands. They can get pretty aggressive, but that’s just because they’re discovering what their hands can do. Keep objects away from them during this period as they will try to grab anything with no regard for their own safety.
Furthermore, this is the time where babies start making more noises. Your child will start laughing instead of just smiling, and you are likely to hear them babble a lot. They won’t speak, but they make noises that almost sound like they’re trying their very hardest to replicate the noises you make.
The first nine months
As your baby passes half a year on this planet, it really starts to supercharge its development. In the first six months, they learn a lot about themselves, but the following three will see some big changes. Mainly, your baby stops being a static thing and starts moving around. Babies begin to crawl or scoot around this period, which is a sign of their curiosity and eagerness to walk. Crawling can be a huge moment for every parent as it’s where you start to worry about things like childproof gates. You need to keep an extra keen eye on your baby to stop them from crawling into danger.
They also learn to sit without any help from you, and they can even move into a standing position by the ninth month. Some can stand without support at this stage, while other babies only get into the upright position by holding onto things.
As far as their speech and hearing go, they might begin to say their first words. Again, it’s such a huge point in a parent’s life, and it will likely be either mama or dada that they say. Will it be the most eloquent and coherent speech you’ve ever heard? No, but you can definitely tell when they say their first word as opposed to mindless babble. Oh, and they should start responding to their name and other things – like being told no or to stop.
The final three months
In the final three months of your baby’s journey to one year old, they are going to reach a couple of big milestones. For one, they can take their first steps at this point. They may start moving around rooms while supporting themselves on things, and they learn to point at things and make noises to show they want them.
Speaking of which, they start to develop their speech and add a few more words to their repertoire. They may even start recognizing their parents and calling them mama and dada specifically, rather than just saying the words.
Babies can also begin feeding themselves at this time, though it will be extremely messy. We’re talking about them picking food up and shoving it near their mouth, sometimes going in. Don’t expect them to have any table manners or an understanding of how to use cutlery at this point!
And on that note, this is what you should expect from your baby after one year alive. Don’t worry if things aren’t precisely as predicted; every baby develops at its own rate. If you ever get super worried that your baby is lagging behind, contact your doctor. They can help you see if your baby might have a developmental condition, or if everything is fine and they will progress at their own pace!