Your Child’s Development

Watching your baby grow is fun and exciting. Try not to compare your baby with other babies. All children grow and change at their own rate. But if you question the way your baby is growing, ask your baby’s doctor.

Curious about what to expect? View a list of things babies are able to do as they grow.

  • Respond to sound
  • Respond to parents’ faces and voices
  • Move arms and legs
  • Hear very well
  • Sleep about 14 to 17 hours a day
  • Lift head for a short time when lying down
  • Sleep three to four hours at a time; stay awake one hour or more
  • Watch your face as it moves from side to side
  • Be comforted by being held or talked to
  • Coo and make noises when spoken to
  • Listen to voices and other noises
  • Like to look at colorful things and lights
  • Smile
  • When lying on tummy, will lift head, neck and upper chest
  • Able to control his head when held upright
  • Babble, coo, smile, laugh and squeal
  • When lying on tummy, will raise upper body on hands
  • Roll from front to back
  • Open hands, hold own hands, grasp rattle
  • Control head well
  • Reach for and bat at objects
  • Say “dada”
  • Sit with help
  • May have first tooth
  • Hold objects and put them in mouth
  • Move objects from one hand to the other
  • Respond to own name
  • Understand a few words
  • Crawl and stand with help
  • Sit up without help
  • Show fear of strangers
  • Play games like peek‑a‑boo and pat‑a‑cake
  • Begin to take steps and talk
  • Look for dropped or hidden objects
  • Wave “bye‑bye”
  • Able to say a few words
  • Feed self with fingers
  • Drink from a cup
  • Understand simple orders
  • Listen to a story
  • Throw a ball
  • Imitate words
  • Use two‑word phrases
  • Use a cup and spoon
  • Show affection, kisses
  • Can go up and down stairs one at a time
  • Kick a ball
  • Stack blocks
  • Follow two‑step orders
  • Copy adults

Understanding your baby’s development

All children grow and change at their own rate. If you have any questions about the way your baby is developing, ask your baby’s doctor. Here are some general things to watch for in your baby’s development:

Your baby sees most clearly when you hold things about 10 to 12 inches away from the baby’s eyes — about the distance from the elbow to the wrist on most adults. Infants like looking at faces, bright lights, brightly colored objects and black and white patterns. Some examples are your face, a picture of a panda bear, a black and white mobile, a red ball or a yellow smiley face.

Your new baby hears sounds. It is natural to raise the pitch of your voice and “baby talk” to your baby. Babies hear higher tones best. Your baby likes to hear the sound of your voice. Hold your child against your chest so your heartbeat can be heard.

Babies need a lot of sleep. When sleepy, your baby’s eyes will start to blink. If there is a loud sound, baby’s body may jerk. Babies in a deep sleep breathe evenly and do not wake up easily.

When your baby sleeps more lightly, breathing may be less even. The eyes may move under the closed eyelids. Baby’s mouth may make a sucking motion even when he is not hungry.

Many babies wake up slowly. It may take a little while for him to be ready to eat or play. You can talk softly to your baby and hold him gently to give him time to wake up.

When fully awake, your baby will be active and learning about the world. Your baby will look at your face and listen to the sounds of your voice. At first babies are only able to do this for one to two minutes at a time. As he gets older, his ability to focus will increase.

Your baby needs to exercise the muscles in his back and neck. Lay your baby on a clean blanket on his tummy for short periods when your baby is awake and an adult is watching. You can put a brightly colored soft toy where baby can see it. As your baby gets older he will start to use his hands to reach for toys and scoot around when lying on his tummy.

Your baby will try to make himself feel better when he is tired or fussy. Putting his hand to his mouth is one way he does this. Give him time to relax. Hold your baby close, and rock him gently.

New babies have many automatic reactions. These are called reflexes. These reflexes show how well his brain, nerves and muscles are working. Reflexes disappear later as your baby grows and changes. A few examples of normal automatic reactions your newborn will have are:

  • Grasp reflex: your newborn will hold on tightly to your finger.
  • Startle reflex: loud sounds will startle your baby. His arms and legs will straighten suddenly.
  • Rooting reflex: if you stroke your baby’s cheek, he will turn his head and open his mouth.
  • Crawl reflex: when your baby is on his tummy, he will move his arms and legs like he is trying to crawl.
  • Sucking reflex: your baby will suck on an object that is placed in his mouth.