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Expert Advice

Baby's first year

Your baby is developing fast. Can you keep up?

In the first year of her life, your bub will develop at a cracking pace, learning to sit, crawl, stand, walk and start to talk. There are no absolute timelines for your little one's development, but here's a guide to the clever things she can do. Keep up if you can!
ONE TO TWO MONTHS
What she can do
Move her head from side to side when placed on her front or bob it against you when held to your chest. By the second month she may even be able to lift her head up for a few seconds.
Cool trick
She can copy your facial expressions. Stick your tongue out and see if she does the same. And keep that camera ready because during the second month, your baby will smile, as well as coo and babble.
THREE TO FOUR MONTHS
What she can do
Your baby is mastering head control, and has discovered her hands and likes to touch everything. She spends more time examining objects such as rattles, developing her concentration. She's much more responsive and vocal too, and 'chats' to you for ages.
Cool trick
From the age of four months, your baby will put everything in her mouth to explore the size, shape, weight and texture of objects. This habit, called mouthing, is a primitive reflex, due to the nerve endings in the mouth being more sensitive than those in the fingers.
FIVE MONTHS
What she can do
Her strength and trunk control grow as she starts to master rolling. She can now also sit propped up for longer. Her hand-eye coordination is sharper – and she swipes and grasps successfully at mobiles and activity gyms.
Cool trick
She's now observing cause and effect – for example, she may begin to understand that a ball moves when it's rolled. You'll notice the same mechanism at work when she deliberately cries to get your attention.
SIX MONTHS
What she can do
Your little one can now bear more weight on her forearms; when she's on her front she can push herself right up, arching her back and raising her head. She transfers an item from one hand to the other, and will drop one object to pick up another.
Cool trick
Listen closely - you may hear her repeating sound patterns, as she experiments with different sounds. If she's babbling in a sing-song voice that's a good sign that her hearing is working properly, as babies with hearing difficulties don't tend to do this.
SEVEN TO EIGHT MONTHS
What she can do
Your baby has started to sit up straight for several minutes and has mastered rolling. She may be able to squirm or commando crawl across the floor. She can also swivel around and support herself on one hand to grab a toy.
Cool trick
She can understand familiar individual words, such as her name, and she might be copying sounds you make, especially if they're one syllable and start with a consonant formed with the lips, such as "bah" or "mah".
NINE MONTHS
What she can do
Moving from lying to sitting and back again is no problem for your little tot. With stronger muscles, hips and knees, she can bear her weight on her legs, and may be making her first moves towards standing.
Cool trick
Objects are a source of fascination for your little one, who may start working out how they mix and match: she'll realise that a spoon goes in a cup, and that a certain lid matches a saucepan.
10 MONTHS
What she can do
Increased muscle power in her arms and legs will enable your baby to pull herself up to a standing position. When babies begin to crawl they can learn with surprising speed, and you may find yourself having to run to keep up with her.
Cool trick
She may have busted out words you can understand, like "Mama" or "Dada" and can demonstrate 'social referencing'. For example, she may look at you for a reaction before she embarks on a forbidden activity, like throwing her sippy cup.
11 MONTHS
What she can do
Some babies may take a step or two at 11 months, but others might not do it for a while. She may also enjoy being 'walked', with you holding both her hands. As she becomes more stable on her feet, she might start 'cruising', which is walking sideways while holding on to furniture for support.
Cool trick
Your little one may be fascinated by books and will love it when you read to her. There might even be a phase where she wants the same book read to her over and over again – boring for you, but really good for her.
12 MONTHS
What she can do
While the average age for a child to take her first steps is 12 to 13 months, it can take longer for some. The first steps may be a quick stagger between pieces of furniture and you can expect plenty of crashes.
Cool trick
Increased wrist flexibility and much finer individual finger-control means your growing baby will try to attempt more complex tasks, such as building a tower of two or more blocks.
Why does she like dropping things?
Your baby may dump toys and food over the side of her high chair – and it's not just because she wants to watch you exercise. According to some experts, this is your baby's way of exploring gravity: when she drops something on purpose, she's conducting her own little cause-and-effect experiment. As babies get older they'll study intently what happens when they drop different types of objects. For example, they'll note that avocado sticks to the ground while a spoon makes a clanging noise. So while you're cleaning up the mess on the floor after each meal, bear in mind it's the result of your baby being clever.
What if my baby doesn't crawl?
Forget that old saying about not trying to walk before you can crawl – because quite a few babies do, and it's perfectly normal. Some babies just skip crawling all together and go straight from scooting around on their bottom to walking around the furniture. In fact, several studies show there is an increasing number of babies not crawling at all before walking, with some experts suggesting that it's a result of the SIDS safe-sleeping campaign, which encourages parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs.
Is my baby OK?
You'll probably find you can't help benchmarking your baby's progress against that of her peers, but remember that children are individuals who develop at their own pace. However, you may decide to see a health professional if you're concerned or if your baby:
  • Doesn't respond to sounds.
  • Doesn't seem to see things and isn't interested in what's going on around her.
  • Can't hold her head up by three to four months of age.
  • Squints a lot after three months.
  • Persistently and excessively cries after three to four months.
  • Doesn't babble by six months.
  • Doesn't reach out and grab things by eight months.
  • Doesn't sit well by 10 months.
  • Doesn't want to bear her own weight by 12 months.

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