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Advice For New Parents: A Guide to Baby Development Stages in Their First Year

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Being a first-time parent can be exactly what the caricatured, movie version implies: confusing, stressful, harried, sleepless — you name it. No matter how prepared you think you are, things get real the moment you bring your child home. 

One thing all parents have in common: the first year is filled with all sorts of exciting “firsts.” Read on for Vivvi’s ultimate guide to what you can expect each month. 

Baby’s First Month

What to Expect:

Congratulations and welcome to the world of parenthood. If you’ve recently given birth, this first month will be largely focused on postpartum physical and emotional recovery. Childbirth is no small feat, and many new moms need time to get back on their feet. But good news: babies will be sleeping a lot during this period, so be sure to get rest when you can. 

Month No. 1 involves frequent feedings and tummy time. This is also when you’ll get to know your little human’s body — skin texture, bowel movements, latching style, and so on. 

Developmental Milestones: 

During their first month of life, babies will: 

  • Explore their fingers with their mouth
  • React to sights and sounds
  • Focus on objects within range
  • Recognize familiar voices

Baby’s Second Month

What to Expect:

The second month feels like a whirlwind compared to the first. At two months old, babies can leave the house more frequently — a boon for them and for you. 

Taking your baby out into the world will seem scary, especially if you’ve spent the first month or two hibernating. You’ll be visiting the doctor for vaccinations, so be sure you’ve got a stroller, carrier, or car seat, plus a fully stocked diaper bag, ready to go. 

Developmental Milestones:

At month No. 2, babies will:

  • Focus on moving objects (i.e. tracking)
  • Coo and use other forms of vocal communication
  • Lift their heads and push up with their arms

Baby’s Third Month

What to Expect:

At three months, things usually get much better — for everyone — because many babies are able to sleep for longer stretches, even through the night. Babies are also starting to be more alert and awake during the day, recognizing and responding to familiar faces and voices in their lives. 

As parents may be headed back to work, this is a good time to find infant care that you trust if you haven’t already. Remember that child care centers often have waiting lists, so be sure to sign up in advance. 

Developmental Milestones:

Here are some things to watch for in the third month: 

  • Reaching for and gripping toys
  • Recognizing familiar people from afar
  • New facial expressions and vocal sounds
  • Recognizing and being excited by familiar voices
  • Kicking legs out during tummy time

Baby’s Fourth Month

What to Expect:

At four months old, babies start to enjoy playtime. They’ll show more interest in toys, especially ones with sounds — repetitive yes; effective, also yes — and show more interest in playing with their parents. Cultivate their newfound love of playing by crawling around on the floor, introducing toys and objects of different shapes and textures, and introducing mobiles. 

Developmental Milestones:

Here’s what to watch for in month No. 4: 

  • Trying to roll over during tummy time
  • Playing with rattles by making shaking motions
  • Kicking legs downwards while being held upright
  • Focusing on moving objects with more accuracy

Baby’s Fifth Month

What to Expect:

Most parents are back at work by month No. 5 — a major milestone that can be bittersweet. 

Developmental Milestones:

Here’s what to watch for in your baby’s fifth month: 

  • Passing objects between both hands
  • Grabbing their feet with their hands
  • Paying attention to the foods you’re eating; showing interest in solid foods
  • Rolling over during tummy time

Baby’s Sixth Month

What to Expect:

The half-year mark is a big milestone for parents and babies alike. At this point, your baby will be showing an interest in solid foods. 

Developmental Milestones:

During their sixth month, babies:

  • Use new vocal sounds
  • Show excitement during playtime (and get upset when playtime stops)
  • Attempt to sit upright on their own
  • React to emotions by crying, laughing, or squealing
  • Recognize their own name and respond with vocal sounds
  • Grasp at out-of-reach objects

Baby’s Seventh Month

What to Expect:

At seven months old, babies start teething, which means everything — and we do mean everything — within reach will find its way to their mouth. New parents will need to be extra-cautious when it comes to safety.

Developmental Milestones:

At seven months old, babies:

  • Recognize when you’re happy or sad
  • Exhibit new responses to facial expressions and try to mimic them
  • Put everything in their mouth, from inanimate, indelible objects to their own body parts
  • Try out new vocal sounds, like babbling
  • Start to sit upright without support more frequently
  • Exhibit the raking grasp by reaching with hands to grasp objects
  • Start to teethe

Baby’s Eighth Month

What to Expect:

By the time your baby reaches eight months old, they’ll seem so grown up compared to the newborn stage! At this age, most babies are filled with confidence and are busy making new vocal sounds, trying to stand, and experimenting with crawling-like motions. They’ll also discover a newfound love for solid food.

You may also notice signs of separation anxiety; now that they recognize you as their primary caregiver, they’ll want to know you’re close. 

Developmental Milestones:

Here are some major milestones at this age: 

  • Teething and starting to drool
  • New vocal sounds like “mama” or “dada”
  • Separation anxiety when they’re away from you
  • Attempting to stand on their own
  • Scooting along the floor and rocking on hands and knees — the precursor to crawling

Baby’s Ninth Month

What to Expect:

At nine months, babies have been out in the world as long as they were in utero. Tempting though it may be to reflect on that miracle, you won’t have that much time: This is the age when (gulp) many infants start crawling. 

Some parents may find themselves chasing after super-speedy crawlers; others may simply enjoy watching them go. At nine months, babies also consume more solid foods and develop attachments to soothing items, like pacifiers. 

Developmental Milestones:

Here’s what to watch for in month No. 9: 

  • More frequent attempts to stand independently 
  • Crawling
  • Tighter grasp and more accuracy when gripping small objects, like crackers or cereal
  • Expressing needs by pointing

Baby’s Tenth Month

What to Expect:

Ten-month-old babies are trouble: If they weren’t cruising before, they certainly are now. You’ll also find that more household objects are finding their way into your baby’s mouth — even the ones you assumed were out of reach. (This is a good time to baby-proof.) 

Your baby will develop new forms of communication and begin requesting items or attention. Regular nap times — usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon — are also part of a 10-month-old’s routine. 

Developmental Milestones:

In month No. 10, be sure to watch for: 

  • Crawling that has developed into cruising — they’re so much faster now
  • Pulling up to a standing position
  • Attempting to walk between pieces of furniture 
  • Learning new vocal communications (like waving “bye-bye”)
  • Waving for attention, greeting familiar faces, and saying “goodbye”
  • Newfound interest in banging toys together to make new sounds

Baby’s Eleventh Month

What to Expect:

At the 11-month mark, your relationship with your baby will hit a new level. At this point, babies start to comprehend concepts like “no” or “yes.” You may find yourself talking with your baby more; in return, they’ll begin babbling during your conversations and may even mimic your behavior — it’s very cute! 

Developmental Milestones:

Here’s what’s happening in an 11-month-old’s world: 

  • New vocal sounds like “uh-oh”; more frequent use of “mama” or “dada”
  • Beginning to understand simple phrases like, “No, don’t touch”
  • Babbling during conversations and mimicking your behavior

Baby’s Twelfth Month

What to Expect:

At the year mark, babies are usually standing on their own, using utensils, and intently exploring the world around them. This is a great time to reflect on the year you’ve had and focus on how far you’ve come. From teething to crawling, from crying to laughing, you’ve celebrated so many milestones in the span of 12 short (OK, long) months. 

Developmental Milestones:

Here’s what to watch for in month No. 12: 

  • Standing upright and taking steps between pieces of furniture 
  • Beginning to use utensils properly, if in an uncoordinated manner
  • Recognizing new objects and their names like “dog” or “cat”
  • Exploring new sounds, throwing objects, and hitting them on the floor

Once you’ve celebrated your baby’s first birthday, you’ll be the proud parent of a toddler. Much like the first year, toddler growth and development stage brings new changes, challenges, and milestones; visit our blog to learn more about what’s in store.

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