Baby Development Milestones
Baby development milestones are just as important, though, since they mark the first year of your baby's rapid growth during this important period. These encompass a whole range of changes involving motor skills, the visual system and cognitive development.
The First Month
During the first month a baby that is developing well can be expected to exhibit strong reflex movements. They'll often bring the hands to the mouth, exploring all manner of tactile sensations. They'll frequently exercise the head from side to side, displaying the beginnings of mastery of muscle control and visual acuity.
At this stage, they can focus about 8-12 inches away, roughly the distance from mother's nipple to her nose. The eyes will wander, but they're not random. They're taking in the scene. The baby should blink at the sight of a bright light. High contrast patterns are attractive, but none more than that of the human face.
They can turn the head, reacting with attention to sounds (especially loud ones) and even familiar voices.
The First Trimester
Pregnancy has a first trimester, but so does the period after birth. During these three months the newborn is growing and developing profoundly. Changes seem to come almost daily.
Motor skills are sharpening and strengthening now. The baby can raise his or her head and even the chest slightly when lying on the stomach. Opening and closing the fists is common as they gain control over finger and arm muscles. The first signs of pushing down with the feet to support the legs can be seen.
At this time of life the visual system is sharpening considerably. By the end of three months they can watch a face with concentration and follow moving objects deliberately. The beginnings of recognizing people and objects become clarified. Hand-eye coordination is evident.
Social skills start about now. Smiling, enjoyment in the company of others and similar behaviors begin. Imitation of the behavior of others shows its first stirrings.
Through the Second Trimester
By the end of 6-7 months, those early gropings are ramping up. The baby can sit without support of the hands. He or she may be able to support her entire weight on the legs, perhaps with a little help from a nearby table or chair. During this period they have achieved enough muscle control to reach
for and grasp small objects.
Full color vision is now possible. Being able to make out objects at a distance matures to the point of recognizing people and things across the room. He or she can track them as they move.
Cognitive skills start emerging clearly now. He or she may unmistakably respond to a personal name. Imitation turns to response as he or she repeats back sounds that will later become words. Those sounds start to get strung together into what will, before you know it, be short sentences.
The First Year
By the end of the first year those stumbles and babbles have become walking and talking. The baby can now make short trips across the room, from chair to table. He or she can say a few simple words, including that all important 'Momma' and 'Dada'.
Cognitive skills start to mature into value selection as the child displays a preference for certain people and/or toys, excluding others not desired. The first challenges to parental choice start to emerge. The baby learns the word 'no' and may use it at times you'd prefer otherwise.
Each child is an individual. While he or she shares many similarities with babies of the same age, each one develops at a unique rate and in an individual way. Milestones are rough guidelines. Einstein spoke late. Beware of assumptions about what is 'normal'.