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  • Ashley

What to Expect in Your Child's First Year of Development

When it comes to your baby, everyone always wants to know how much their child is growing, and if they are developing new skills at the right time.  Oftentimes a doctor helps us track these milestones.  While there are also parent books that are available, our hope is that this blog can help to compile a list of those key pieces of information that our new parents would like to know as they begin learning more about their new little one.

Before continuing to read this, always remember each baby will meet these developmental milestones at slightly different times. If your baby seems to be late on certain baby milestones and you get worried, talk to your pediatrician. Children, especially babies, are nothing if not unpredictable. 

A little about myself and how I’ve come to learn and understand all about children’s development enough to share about it to all of you. I am an early interventionist and I specialize in child development from birth until 5 years old. I have a Bachelors in early childhood education and have been in the field for 13 years. I am extremely passionate about assisting families in their child’s development and celebrating their journey as they grow. 

A child’s first year of life can happen in what feels like the blink of an eye. I often hear most Mom’s tell me that they feel like their child was just born. This is often due to the fact that the first year is a period of rapid growth and development. Oftentimes by the time a child reaches their first birthday, they have reached several key milestones that mark important stages in their cognitive, physical, and emotional development. These milestones are important markers that help parents and healthcare providers track a child's overall wellbeing in the main areas of development mentioned above.  

The milestones between birth to three months old come with a variety of emotions.  This is a big period of adjustment and learning for both parent and baby.  Whether this is your first child or your third, you and them are learning from each and about other.

By three months old, children may begin smiling, making cooing sounds, visually tracking and turning to sounds/recognizing familiar voices.  Some other language based milestones your child may also have begun doing include: changing their cry for different wants and needs and startling at loud unexpected sounds. 

To help your child continue to progress through these milestones, our team of dedicated therapists as well as other professionals recommend engaging in some of the following activities:

  • Talking to your baby and playing with them 

  • Be in close proximity to your baby establishing eye contact

  • Read with your baby and position your child in front of you so they can see your mouth 

  • Use a mirror to facilitate imitation of facial expressions or sounds - babies love seeing themselves! 

Other milestones you might have seen by now include: 

  •  bringing their hands to their mouth

  • opening/closing hands

  • moving their legs and arms when excited

  • beginning to hold their head up during tummy time

  • enjoying movement 

  • reaching for toys. 

  • visually tracking

Sometimes it almost feels as if your child is growing and changing overnight.   Before you know it we’ve gone from three months to now you’re scheduling your child’s 6 month well check visit - 6 months! You think about how your baby is half way through their first year of life and it brings on all of these sweet memories of watching your child explore the world around them. At this point in their development, your baby may be laughing more often, recognizing familiar faces, enjoying looking in the mirror and may begin making excited squealing noises. You should also start to see by 6 months that your child is grabbing toys they want, putting most things in their mouth, and closing their lips or pushing away when they don’t want certain foods. As for physical development, your baby most likely will be rolling from tummy to back, pushing up with their arms during tummy time and using their hands for their support while sitting. 

By now we start to realize that you’re soon going to have a mover on your hands, and in most cases you're right! Time to make sure that you babyproof all of the things.  The next set of milestones from 6 months to 9 months is where we see more big changes especially in the emotional and social areas. As far as language development, by 9 months old we often hear babies making a lot of different sounds like “mamamamam”, “babababba” and “dadadada”. Many families get excited to hear these sounds and start to look for that first consistent word. At this stage your child likely has also begun lifting their arms towards you to sign they want to be picked up, showing signs of being shy or fearful of strangers, making a lot of different facial expressions and starting to look towards you when you call their name. This stage is often when we see them starting to react to peek-a-boo, playing with objects such as banging rattles together and really beginning to sit without support. 

By 1 years old, children have typically reached several important milestones. By this age, most children can follow simple directions, such as "wave bye-bye" or "clap your hands". They also have developed object permanence, which is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they are out of sight. Additionally, children at this age are beginning to imitate sounds and gestures, which is an important precursor to language development. In terms of physical development, most children pull themselves up to stand, and may even take their first steps by age 1. They are also beginning to develop fine motor skills, such as picking up small objects with their fingers or using simple gestures to communicate their needs. Lastly, children at 1 years old most likely have also begun to show a range of emotions, which are important indicators of a child's growing ability to navigate and express their feelings.

Overall, the first year of a child's life happens so quickly.  Be sure that you’re pausing throughout to enjoy your baby's firsts.  While there may be areas of concerns of not reaching certain milestones know that you have a team of support around you.  It’s okay to say I’m reading what my child “should” be doing ____ by now but they aren’t.  Should I be concerned?  

Milestones are the skills that 90% of children that age are doing.  That being said, if a milestone isn’t met it may be important to consider help in that specific skill area to explicitly teach your baby and allow for opportunities to “catch up” to peers of the same age..  

Reviewing information such as this we hope can empower families to know what to look out for and feel ready to grow alongside their children in their first year of life.  This list isn’t comprehensive and shouldn’t take the place of any medical advice received from your child’s pediatrician.  

This information is shared to support your learning and you support your childs.  

What was your favorite milestone that your child achieved during their first year of life?   Feel free to comment below and ask any questions you may have.  We’d love to hear from you.

Written By: Ashley, Early Interventionist

Content Graphics: by Kristin Weingart MS CCC-SLP

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