Baby Milestones You Don’t Want to Miss: A Guide to Your Baby’s Development

Trish ~ Labor Nurse Mama
March 12, 2023

Your sweet-smelling bundle of cuteness is finally in your arms! While parenting can be exhausting at times, there’s also so much to look forward to, especially during your baby’s first year of life. Keep reading to learn more about these developmental milestones.

But before you do, I want to point out that not all babies hit these according to the “norm”, so please check with your provider if you are concerned.

Why I am here and who I am:

Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!

We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we just love ’em and want you to know about them. Click here for our full disclosure. Thank you!

What Are The Major Baby Milestones In The First Year Of Life?

You have overcome labor and have already basked in your golden hour after birth. Now what? Trust me when I say, it is watching out for your baby's milestones in their first year of life! There is a lot.! And we as mamas get obsessed.

To help you understand them easier, these developmental milestones can be broken down into four major categories:

    • Social/Emotional Milestones
    • Language/Communication Milestones
    • Cognitive Milestones
    • Movement/Physical Development Milestones
First Month to Second Month Baby Milestones

From a precious, helpless newborn, your little one starts to transform as big changes come down to pike.

Here’s what you can look forward to his/her first to the second month:

Social or Emotional Milestones

    • He prefers a human face over other shapes – Bye-bye circles and squares! Your baby will now start staring at faces. And.. your sleepless nights will finally pay off as you see her eyes lighting up with excitement when you walk into the room. 
    • Smiles and calms down when spoken to – Simply hearing your voice or seeing your face makes your baby smile.

Language or Communication Milestones

    • May turn toward familiar sounds or voices – At this stage, your little bundle of joy may already recognize some sounds, including her parents’ voices.
    • Their senses and reflexes are starting to develop – A loud noise might startle them, or they may close their eyes in response to a bright light.
    • Makes sounds other than crying – You can expect the adorable “oohs” and “aahs” in this milestone. Your little peanut might also start putting together consonants and vowels.
    • Reacts to loud sounds – Your baby will likely respond to a loud noise — by startling, crying, or quieting.

Cognitive Milestones

    • Can focus on items 8 to 12 inches away – This is the perfect distance for gazing up into the eyes of mom or dad. 
    • Tracks objects with their eyes – Whether it’s you moving around the room or a brightly colored object in front of them, movements might get them to respond with wide eyes and gleeful wiggling.

Movement or Physical Development Milestones

Expect your baby’s movement to become smoother and more purposeful!

At this stage, you may notice them doing the following:

    • Lifts head during tummy time – With your baby gradually gaining strength, they can now raise their heads for just a few seconds at a time. (some babies do this earlier)
    • Moves both arms and legs – They will now start to move a bit by themselves and try to reach out to objects, though not very successfully.
    • Opens hands briefly – At this fun baby stage, your little one likely has explored a tiny treasure that doubles as their source of entertainment: their hands
Third Month to Fourth Month Baby Milestones

By the third and fourth months, your little mister/miss independent is coming. Aside from having settled into a routine, you can now take those precious naps without them weeping for you.

Here’s what else to expect:

Social or Emotional Milestones

    • Tries to get your attention – Your little one is ready for fun and social interaction. They may make sounds to get or keep your attention.
    • Chuckles (not yet a full laugh) – While these early giggles are delightful to hear, they're also rewarding for your baby — they love hearing their own voice and seeing how you react to the sounds they make.

Language or Communication Milestones

    • Coos and babbles and they can string vowels and consonant sounds like “ga-ga-ga” or “ba-ba-ba.” 
    • Smiles and turns their head towards the sound of your voice – Your little one will now smile at you and the sound of your voice, especially when you smile widely at them.

Cognitive Milestones 

    • Opens their mouths as a sign of hunger – Whether it’s the breasts or bottles, your baby now has another way of telling you they’re hungry aside from crying.

Movement or Physical Development Milestones

In addition to the improved hand-eye coordination, your baby might begin trying to roll over, grab something that’s out of reach, and get better at their body movements. Some physical development from these months are:

    • Keeps head stable while being held without any assistance
    • Grasps and holds onto a toy when placed in their hand
    • Swings at toys using their arms
    • Brings their hands to their mouth
    • Lifts themselves onto their elbows/forearms while lying on their tummy.
Fifth Month to Sixth Month Baby Milestones

Get ready to play the classic “Peek-a-boo,”  and other hide-and-seek games as your baby catches on to the fun in their fifth and sixth months.

Social or Emotional Milestones

    • Recognizes familiar individuals – Now halfway through her first year, your baby knows familiar faces and understands if someone is a stranger.
    • Enjoys viewing their own reflection in a mirror – At this stage, your baby can identify you and is beginning to develop self-awareness. They may smile when they see their reflection in a mirror and display unique personality characteristics.
    • Expresses joy through laughter – Your little bundle of joy can now express emotions – laughing, squealing, and smiling with happiness, joy, and pleasure.

Language or Communication Milestones

    • Engages in reciprocal interactions with you. They’ll start mimicking your words by making similar sounds. 
    • Produces “raspberry” sounds. Your baby probably entertains everyone (including themselves) by making razzing noises or blowing raspberries. 

Cognitive Milestones 

    • Uses their mouth to explore objects – Baby mouthing actually helps your little one learn and satisfy their natural curiosity. Hence,  it's good for them, and you shouldn't discourage it as long as it is a clean and safe item.
    • Grasps toys – Watch them as they extend their arms to grab their desired toy or object.
    • She closes her lips as a signal of being full and not wanting more food.

Movement or Physical Development Milestones

At this point, their bodies are also gaining strength in preparation for them to start crawling and eventually, walking. You’ll notice them doing these things:

    • Turns over from stomach to back
    • Raises their upper body with straight arms while on her stomach
    • Relies on their hands for support when sitting upright.
Seventh Month to Eighth Month Baby Milestones

Your baby is maturing emotionally at these months. They also sound like they’re getting closer to mumbling out a mama or a dada!

There will be lots Lots of playing, exploring, discovering, and learning in these months plus these milestones:

Social or Emotional Milestones

    • Recognizes facial expressions- Be careful, as they can now understand and recognize when you’re happy or when you’re stern.
    • Listens selectively to familiar words – They can even understand the word no (but won’t always obey it)!
    • Uses voice to express feelings of happiness or sadness – Knowing how they feel will be much easier now as they can express themselves better now.

Language or Communication Milestones

    • Develops separation anxiety – They’ll start to feel uneasy when they get separated from you. 
    • Begins combining syllables – Mama and dada are of course on the list. But don’t take it personally as they do not attach a meaning to these words yet.

Cognitive Milestones 

    • Develops vision – At this stage, your little one can now track objects very well with their improved vision.
    • Distinguishes familiar objects – This is the time they will start looking for their favorite toys and feel a sense of familiarity.
    • Displays taste preferences- Your child now shows interest in new tastes and textures of foods.

Movement or Physical Development Milestones

New discoveries come with the increased use of their hands (fine motor skills) and increased mobility (gross motor skills). You can expect these physical milestones at this stage:

    • Sits without support, may lean forward on both hands
    • Bears full weight on feet
    • Bounces when held in a standing position
    • Bears weight on one hand when lying on the stomach
    • Transfers objects from one hand to another
    • Bangs objects on surfaces
    • Adjusts posture to reach an object
Ninth Month to Tenth Month Baby Milestones

Watch out for falling items that can come crashing down as your little one will soon be on the move, eager to explore the world on their terms. So batten down the hatches, and keep an eye out for these milestones:

Social or Emotional Milestones

    • Exhibits shyness, clinginess, or fearfulness in the presence of strangers – Your baby is a charmer, but it’s now easy for them to recognize unfamiliar faces.
    • Displays a range of facial expressions – They can now adorably show if they are  happy, sad, angry, or surprised.,
    • Responds to their name by looking in your direction – Not only will they be able to recognize their name, but also know where the sound was coming from.
    • Reacts through actions – Like gazing, reaching out for you, or crying.
    • Loves playing peek-a-boo – Expresses amusement or joy by smiling or laughing.

Language or Communication Milestones

    • Makes noises to denote certain emotions – laughing when happy, rambling angrily when frustrated.
    • Demonstrates the ability to recognize and indicate objects they desire – They also exhibit distress when they are not provided.
    • Communicates through actions – Shakes their heads to say no, waves their hands to say bye-bye.

Cognitive Milestones 

    • Responds to simple verbal commands – Your baby can now comprehend the words “yes” and “no”
    • Copies your behavior – Like babbling into their hand or a toy phone to imitate you.
    • Understands object-permanence – They’ll have the idea that you still exist even if you leave the room

Movement or Physical Development Milestones

Your baby is probably giving you plenty of exercise. By this stage, your little one is constantly on the go, discovering new and faster ways to move. Look out for these developments:

    • Begins crawling
    • Goes from stomach to sitting position
    • Sits by falling down
    • Recovers balance easily while sitting
    • Lifts one foot to take a step while standing
Eleventh Month to Twelfth Month Baby Milestones

It won't be long before you've completed nearly a whole year of parenthood. Your little one is on the verge of transitioning into toddlerhood! During this phase, you can anticipate the following developmental milestones:

Social or Emotional Milestones

    • Shows independence in a familiar surrounding
    • Shows affection
    • Clings to parents in a strange situation

Language or Communication Milestones

    • Repeats the same words over & over again
    • Imitates sounds, such as the sounds dogs and cats make
    • Says three or more words other than “mama” or “dada.”

Cognitive Milestones 

    • Understands simple verbal commands
    • Explores objects more thoroughly
    • Follows rapidly moving objects
    • Becomes excited when a task is mastered

Movement or Physical Development Milestones

Be alert and ready to leap to the rescue; your baby now looks and acts less like a baby and more like a child. as they flex their independence, they also need your reassurance. So here's what to watch for at eleven and twelve months.

    • Pulls up to stand
    • Walks, holding onto furniture 
    • Drinks from a cup without a lid, as you hold it 
    • Picks things up between thumb and pointer finger, like small bits of food
    • Attempts to build a two-block tower but may fail
When To Talk With Your Pediatrician?

Throughout your baby's initial year, it is recommended to schedule checkups every few months, in accordance with the guidance provided by your healthcare provider. Typically, six to seven recommended visits during the first year to evaluate growth are recommended. The following schedule outlines the recommended timings for checkups during the first year:

    • At 1 month old
    • At 2 months old
    • At 4 months old
    • At 6 months old
    • At 9 months old
    • At 1 year old
Checklist of what to share with your doctor:
    • What do you and your baby do together?
    • What does your baby like to do?
    • Is there anything your baby does or does not do that concerns you?
    • Has your baby stopped doing the developments/skills he/she once had?
    • Does your baby have any special healthcare needs?

Remember that a premature baby may not hit all these milestones according to their birth age but may be closer to their due date age.

That's it, mama! I'm so excited about your little one's milestones! If you have any baby milestones to share or have questions about your baby's milestones, don't hesitate to ask! Leave a comment here or send me a message. You know where to find me!

labor nurse mama trish ware

Just a little Disclaimer: As always, I am just writing my thoughts and what I’ve learned along the way. Although I am in fact a labor and delivery RN, This is not medical advice. You should always seek and follow the advice of your care provider.

This post may contain some affiliate links (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Thank you! For our full disclosure read here)


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