When will my baby smile? When will they know it’s me and recognise my face?
These are common questions that new parents ask. All babies are different, and will progress at their own rate – but this article should give you an idea of what to expect over the first year. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development ask your health visitor.
Initially, it can seem that all new babies do is eat and sleep – but even then your child is changing quickly, developing a bond with parents and drawn to bright lights and staring at faces. He or she will also respond to sound and is learning to differentiate black and white patterns. A few babies may appear unsettled and don’t like being put down, you might consider a baby cushion like the babocush, which helps simulate the feeling of being on a parent’s chest and shoulders, which is often where they are most comfortable.
By two months of age most babies will make gurgling noises and will follow objects held close to their face. At this point only 50% of babies will smile and recognise their primary care-givers’ voices.
Many babies will recognise your voice and will be starting to gain more control of their heads, being able to hold them much steadier. At this stage only half will be able to raise their head and shoulders during tummy time. Some may even have started to laugh and giggle.
This stage is when most babies will be able to hold their head steady, and bear some weight on their legs, most will coo and gurgle in response when you speak to them. An emerging skill to keep an eye out for at this stage is reaching out towards things and trying to grab toys. Some may also get their first tooth around this point, so having some of our teething toys ready for this stage is a good idea. Our flat monkey teether is small and light for tiny hands.
By this point most babies will be on the move, able to roll from front to back. They will be able to entertain themselves by holding onto their own hands and feet. Some children may have developed the strength to sit unsupported for a moment or two.
Now things start to get very messy, as babies are ready to explore solid foods, although most of it will end up anywhere but in their mouths –it’s all good practice. They will also imitate sounds and blow bubbles, often when they have a mouth full of food, so keep some muslin cloths to hand for cleaning up. Babies around six months will start to recognise their own names and can roll from front to back, back to front and sit for short times.
At around the seven-month mark your baby will happily babble away at you, and will start to imitate some sounds. Most will be reaching and grabbing anything interesting, you may want to limit wearing necklaces and dangly earrings at this point- ouch! Half of babies will be able to crawl by now and a few might be able to stand while holding onto something.
At around eight months your baby will start calling you mama or dada, or both - it isn’t specific at this stage. Most children will be crawling and passing objects from hand to hand. A few might be able to pull themselves up to standing and start cruising around the room by holding onto furniture.
Related: When do babies start talking?
Gravity is a discovery that takes place at this stage, as your child will start dropping and throwing toys and other objects. They may start showing an interest in feeding themselves too. Around nine months some babies have started to distinguish between care-givers and get the names right most of the time.
Many babies will be crawling with confidence and cruising around holding onto furniture. Some will be able to let you know what they want with gestures, and respond to their own name and simple instructions like “no”.
It is likely that your baby will be able to let you know what they want by pointing, they will start to copy you and what you are doing. Some can pick things up and put them into a container or basket while sitting down. Only a few may be able to stand unassisted for a few moments.
Related: When do babies start walking?
Just before their first birthday your baby will probably be chatting by making “speech like” sounds. Many can also point, wave goodbye and clap. Around half of babies will be taking a few steps or shuffling around on their bottoms. They will understand simple instructions like “come here”, some might understand a few other words like “cup” and “car”.
You can see that babies change rapidly, but every baby progresses through the stages at their own rate. The above is simply a guide and if you are concerned about milestones contact your health visitor.