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What Are Baby Development Milestones?

What Are Baby Development Milestones?

In a baby’s first years of life, things happen fast, and watching your little human take form is one of the most joyful parts of parenting. Whether it's your baby's first words, baby's first Halloween costume, baby's first thanksgiving, or their first steps, this is a joyous time for every parent. During this time, your little boy or girl will double (then triple) in size. They’ll learn to recognize faces, laugh, clap, walk & talk. Your baby’s first year—and all the years after it—are made up of big and small moments in their development.

Baby development milestones are essentially a more organized way of looking at those big and small moments. When do babies start playing with toys? When do they start becoming aware of their environment and start exploring? Milestones are, in a way, like developmental checklists. They track the day-by-day development steps of your child and help set expectations for what a parent will see their little one do—and when.

According to the CDC’s definition, developmental milestones “show what most children (75% or more) can do by each age.”1 These include key milestones in the development of your baby’s motor skills, cognition & language development. Below, we’ll offer a basic overview of the milestones parents should expect in the first 12 months of their baby’s life.

Months 1-2

In your baby’s first couple of months, they’re just starting to orient themselves in the world. You’ll see your baby discover their own ability to move their hands and feet and recognize the faces and sounds of their surroundings.

In these critical moments, you may also see your baby:2

  • Move their eyes to track moving people
  • Respond to loud sounds and voices
  • Cry and make sucking sounds
  • Smile reflexively
  • Recognize people at a distance
  • Laugh and squeal
  • Suck on their thumb
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Tips for the First Two Months

These two months are all about the basics. Your baby is learning the foundations of communication, motor skills & cognitive development. Many parents suggest reading, talking & singing to your baby as they are just getting a sense of what you sound like.

You can also play with your baby in an age-appropriate way by:

  • Reading to your child
  • Playing a focus-and-follow game with their toy of choice
  • Practicing a few minutes of tummy time each day as they strengthen their body

After your baby is all tuckered out from tummy time and is in need of a nap, remember to lay them down in a sleep-safe position: on their back.

Finally, don’t forget to smile. In the first two months your baby is learning to establish eye contact and smile intentionally. This is when they’re just beginning to recognize you, so don’t be afraid to let them know how happy you are to have them in your life.3

Months 3-4

By now, your baby will start getting used to many of the sights and sounds around them, and they’ll communicate in more complex ways. You’ll see them develop a better understanding of what’s going on in their environment.

By month four, you may see your baby:4

  • Hold their hands open for about half the time
  • Hold and play with baby’s first toys and rattles
  • Show excitement or curiosity
  • Repeat movements they’ve learned
  • Coo (making sounds like “ooo” and “ahhh”)
  • Smile or make a sound to get your attention

Tips for Months 3 and 4

By four months of age, your baby will continue to develop cognitive and physical skills. It might be helpful to have a few toys for them as they learn to hold and play. You can also stimulate their budding sense of touch by letting them interact with materials of different textures, colors & shapes as they develop their fine motor skills.

In these months, as your baby is learning to play, many parents also begin to establish routines and a daily schedule.5 This will help them feel secure in their new home and might even bring back some predictability to your life.

Months 5-6

Congratulations—you’re halfway through the first year of your baby’s life! By now, your baby is forming the basic building blocks for language and cognition.

Halfway through year one, you may see them:6

  • Roll over
  • Babble longer strings of sound
  • React to their own name
  • Distinguish friends and family from strangers, and develop stranger anxiety
  • See themselves in the mirror
  • Blow “raspberries” by sticking out their tongue and blowing
  • Reach out to the toys they prefer

Tips for Months 5 and 6

Months five and six are all about exploration. Your baby starts to understand what’s familiar and discover what’s new. As such, you may want to help them cope with stranger anxiety when they begin to meet new people. Showing them a happy face and pairing it with friendly gestures, for example, signals to your baby that an unfamiliar person is a friend.

You might also find your baby exploring a new toy…with their mouth! That’s because babies often begin teething around six months of age, too. Make sure that your little one has safe toys they can touch and put in their mouth. That way, they can keep playing and discovering while you maintain peace of mind.

Finally, as they get a better handle on the language, support their learning by:

  • Talking to your baby about your regular routines
  • Reading to them often
  • Introducing them to songs and music

Months 7-8

Further down the development road, your little one will move even closer to talking and walking. At this stage, you can expect to see your baby:7

  • Go from sitting to lying down
  • Drink from an open cup
  • Enjoy peek-a-boo
  • React to facial expressions
  • Show separation anxiety from their parents
  • Bang toys together

Tips for Months 7 and 8

Remember to talk to your baby, using plenty of facial expressions and hand gestures to help them understand what you’re trying to say. Plus, by pairing a facial expression with the specific name of the feeling you’re modeling it’s a clever way of fostering social-emotional learning from an early age.

Also, by now, your baby probably loves games, so let the games continue! Not only will it develop their cognitive and motor skills, but it’s loads of fun for you and your baby.

Months 9-10

In months nine and ten, you might see some startling developments and some major steps (figurative or literal) toward being a toddler.

You may notice them:8

  • Climbing down from a chair
  • Crawling forward or even walking while holding onto furniture
  • Standing briefly without support
  • Dropping objects intentionally
  • Showing an understanding of frequently used words or phrases, like “no” or “come here”
  • Using exclamations like “uh-oh”

Tips for Months 9 and 10

By now, your baby might be on the move! Make sure to babyproof their environment so they can explore safely. That also means paying attention to where they’re going and any potential risks that might stand in their path.

Furthermore, as they begin to communicate, you’ll also want to give them plenty of encouragement as they form words. You could even start a journal or scrapbook that logs some of their first words. It’s a creative way to capture this special time as it breezes by—and something that you and your child will be excited to look back on as they grow.

Months 11-12

Hooray—you’ve officially helped guide your little boy or girl through their first full year as a human being! You’ll be surprised by how far they’ve come.

By the end of the year, you may see them:9

  • Move along with a rhythm
  • Mimic animals
  • Make one-word requests or say “dada,” “mama,” “hi,” and “bye”
  • Show preference and fear of people and objects
  • Draw with a crayon
  • Have a “comfort object”

Tips for Months 11 and 12

As your baby gets closer to taking their first steps, they might need a helping hand. So, be sure to support your baby as they start to stand and walk forward. You’ll also want to be prepared for some bumps and falls along the way! Keep helping them develop their mind by talking, reading, singing & playing.

What if My Baby Misses a Milestone?

Let’s say it’s month four and your baby isn’t cooing, or it’s month six and your baby doesn’t babble—should you be concerned?

The short answer is probably not.

Remember: baby milestones are not laws of physics. Your baby is unique, and if they arrive at an important milestone a bit later than usual, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern. Milestones don’t tell you what all babies do by a certain age, just what most are doing. However, they are a helpful way of navigating your child’s development with their pediatrician. If you’ve got a question about what your baby may or may not be ready for, be sure to bring it up the next time you make a visit to the doctor’s office.

At the end of the day, remember that your little human is growing from a newborn to a toddler. Every step along the way—whether it comes early or late—is a beautiful moment in that journey. Cherish them all.

Monica + Andy: Making Each Precious Milestone Count

Your baby’s first year of life can be an exciting and special time as you invite the newest member of your family into your home. They’ll grow and develop rapidly, and you may find yourself experiencing a mix of emotions as you grow as a parent, too.

Your baby needs someone to lean on in their first year—and you might need some, too. Whether you’re preparing for the birth of your family's newest member or already living through the excitement of year one, you can learn more about how to prepare for and nurture your baby in their first year of life by joining Monica + Andy’s parent community.

Our virtual and in-person classes offer pointers and support for everything from nutrition to sleep schedules. So, whether you’re looking for advice, blankets, baby clothing, or toys, make each important milestone count with Monica + Andy.


  1. CDC. Milestone Checklist.https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/FULL-LIST-CDC_LTSAE-Checklists2021_Eng_FNL2_508.pdf
  2. CDC. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Two Months. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-2mo.html
  3. Pregnancy, Birth, & Baby. Your baby's growth and development. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/babys-growth-and-development-2-months-old
  4. CDC. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Four Months. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-4mo.html
  5. The Bump. What You Need to Know About Setting a Baby Schedule.https://www.thebump.com/a/baby-schedules
  6. CDC. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Six Months. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-6mo.html
  7. CDC. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Eight Months. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-8mo.html
  8. Pregnancy, Birth, & Baby. Your baby's growth and development - 10 months old. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/babys-growth-and-development-10-months-old
  9. CDC. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Twelve Months. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-1yr.html
  10. CDC. Developmental Milestones. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html
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